Model Ts and Immoral Debts

by J. Money - Published February 13, 2019

ford model t - green

This is going to sound silly, but I spent the better half of two hours yesterday pouring over Ford Model T’s and debating whether it was worth buying one or not, haha…

Of course I chose “not” (who needs a Model T these days???) but it came after reading an article in COINAge Magazine where I learned you could pick one up for only $15,000 on Ebay :)

I also learned a handful of other fun facts too:

  • Model T’s were first introduced on August 12, 1908 – in the midst of a serious depression
  • The first Model T had a top speed of 45 miles per hour and got 13-21 miles per gallon, while at the same time popularizing the left side steering wheel
  • After initially taking more than 12 hours to produce, Ford got it down to only 93 minutes!
  • They were all painted black starting in 1915 because black paint dried faster than all other colors (and is where the popular saying – “You can get it in any color – as long as it’s black!” comes from)
  • By the mid-1920s, more than half the *world’s* cars were Model T’s!!
  • They stopped being produced May 26, 1927

(If you’re wondering why a coin magazine was writing about a car btw, it’s because they do a monthly feature called “coin capsule” where they talk about what was going on at a certain time period, both in the coin industry as well as the world in general. This particular issue focused on 1908 when the first Model Ts came out, but also the release of the first Indian Head $2 1/2 and $5 gold pieces from the U.S. Mint, as well as the launch of the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa.)

But why would you care about any of this since this isn’t a car or coin site?!

Because of two other facts that were casually mentioned in the article:

#1. Henry Ford kept LOWERING the prices of his cars as he got more efficient over the years! Instead of continually increasing them and reaping (even more) of a massive profit like all companies do. (Can you imagine iPhones getting cheaper as they roll out?? Hah!)

And #2., which is even MORE amazing, Henry Ford was against personal debt – another unheard of practice in business!

“Although the car was introduced with a price tag of $850, the Model T later sold for as little as $260 because Ford passed along the savings from his production innovations. One reason Henry Ford kept lowering the price was that he thought credit sales were immoral. Lowering the price kept the volume of cash sales at high levels.”

So on top of completely revolutionizing the car industry and bringing affordable cars to the public, Henry Ford was also apparently a great personal finance mentor as well ;)

He also succeeded in creating high-paying jobs for thousands of Americans, at one point even doubling the standard daily pay for everyone! Who is this guy???! Haha…

Maybe you already knew all this stuff, but it completely mesmerized me in shock and thought I’d share in case you’re working on your own line of cars/products as well ;) You should try and copy him and see how well you fare in today’s climate! Haha… I bet you’d go viral for a hot minute, but you better pray you sell out or you’ll be waiting a looooong time for everyone to get their finances in order!

At any rate, here’s an excellent profile on Ford from Entrepreneur.com if you want to learn more (I couldn’t find the coin article online): Henry Ford: The Man Who Taught America To Drive

And then here’s a GREAT book I hear too that you can borrow from the library with over 600 pages on the guy (and cars): Model T Ford: The Car That Changed the World. There’s even a club you can join if you really get sucked in! –> The Model T Ford Club of America

Whatever you do though, don’t click this link and look at all the Model T’s for sale right now…

Henry would be rolling in his grave to see them going for 10x the original price!! 🤣

******
// Model T pic above by jjmusgrove
// Link to book above is an Amazon affiliate link

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ark February 13, 2019 at 5:21 am
2 J. Money February 13, 2019 at 6:05 am

Ack! I figured he couldn’t be perfect, but damn…

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3 Kate February 13, 2019 at 5:59 am

What a coincidence! I was just thinking about these cars! Here are the first and last paragraphs of an article in the FT yesterday. Very interesting!

“Back in 1900, a third of the cars on US roads were electric. It took Henry Ford’s mass-production of petrol-powered cars to drive them off the road. A reversal of fortunes is under way. A revival in the popularity of electric vehicles means that sales of internal combustion engine cars may well have peaked.

In the same way as the low cost of the Model T created huge demand a century ago, the falling price of EVs will expand the potential market. Consumers say their high cost is the main deterrent to buying them. Costs will be on a par with petrol and diesel engines by 2022, says Deloitte. As the market for combustion engines stalls, the EV industry will soon put its foot to the floor.”

https://www.ft.com/content/b2c9e686-2e11-11e9-8744-e7016697f225

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4 J. Money February 13, 2019 at 6:09 am

That’s wild!! I wonder how many of our cars would be electric right now if he never got into mass production?!

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5 [HCF] February 13, 2019 at 6:12 am

I knew some of these pieces of information but I like him now even better :) Will investigate further. Such an approach to business would turn the world a better place.
I am an old car lover just not that old XD Lets jump to 1969 and pick basically any of them :)

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6 J. Money February 13, 2019 at 6:38 am

So many good muscle cars!!

You ever hear of the Pantera? Recently stumbled across it and it’s purrrrty:

https://www.topspeed.com/cars/detomaso/1971-1991-de-tomaso-pantera-ar448/pictures.html#672080

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7 [HCF] February 13, 2019 at 6:46 am

I like it except for the nose. The Mangusta looks better in my opinion. My choice would be the 69 Camaro SS or a good ol’ General Lee :D

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8 Debra February 13, 2019 at 6:42 am

…Henru Ford also hired blacks before intergration, his fellow Americans. Just say i n

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9 DNN February 13, 2019 at 6:45 am

I heard my grandfather once owned a “Ford Model T,” but failed to keep it around in the family for whatever reason. Anyone who owns an original “Model T Ford” today and restored it and sells it should get some pretty $ gUaP $ for an asking price.

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10 J. Money February 13, 2019 at 4:11 pm

That’s pretty cool!

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11 Jon W February 13, 2019 at 6:55 am

Slightly off topic but related, you said you were browsing a coin collecting site. Do you do any collecting? I have always saved old Pennies and a couple other random collectables but am interested in collectables that could add a little insurance to my portfolio while having fun collecting. Junk Silver comes to mind along with some strategic gold and silver coins.

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12 J. Money February 13, 2019 at 4:14 pm

I do!

In fact, I even have a (much neglected) blog on coin collecting –> http://cointhrill.com

And you’re right – the nice thing about coins is that they can usually double as investments at the same time :) I tend to go for more older 1700s-1800s silver coins, both US and foreign, but I know a lot of people who def. snatch up as much scrap silver and gold as they can to help hedge for sure… And you know that as soon as the market crashes all that bullion is going up!

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13 Joe February 13, 2019 at 8:37 am

Interesting tidbits. It’s pretty cool that Ford lowered the price as the production became more efficient. We still see that with techs, but not Apple. That’s why I don’t buy premium brands. :)

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14 Fred Leamnson February 13, 2019 at 8:52 am

The good old days, indeed. Imagine if companies had this kind of mindset today. They’d still be made in America. Prices would come down. The entire economic system would be different. Now we focus on quarterly profits and stock prices.

Small businesses still fuel the economy. You just don’t hear enough about them. Doing good things isn’t newsworthy.

Ford’s antisemitic views are troubling. He employed a lot of people others wouldn’t and changed the auto industry forever.

Good stuff, J.

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15 J. Money February 13, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Glad you enjoyed it, Fred :)

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16 Aaron February 13, 2019 at 9:16 am

Very cool. Commend Ford for doing this. Suppose it may have limited the car to the elite – but sounds like he kept trying to make it affordable (which would lead to higher volume sales). Don’t think debt was as in fashion as it is today, either. Debtor’s prison was eliminated in 1833 so I suppose the mindset was still frugality.

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17 J. Money February 13, 2019 at 4:15 pm

I visited an old Debtor’s prison once – not pretty!!

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18 FullTimeFinance February 13, 2019 at 9:48 am

About a decade ago, before he passed, my grandfather had a model A. Slightly later in the model years. The difference between these cars and today are night and day. Steering wheels, brakes etc are all different. Each model year though gets closer to today.

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19 J. Money February 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Would be cool to still test drive if he kept it around :)

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20 Steveark February 13, 2019 at 11:42 am

Cars were the high tech item of the day and then as now high tech almost always goes down in price for quite a few years before it starts increasing. Look at PC’s. My dad paid over $2,000 for his first PC from IBM. That is $ 5,600 in today’s money. Now you can get a vastly more powerful and portable laptop PC for $300 anywhere. Look at televisions, premium televisions cost $500 in 1970, that is $3,300 in today’s money. You can get a larger 4K television now for $300. Cars were at that developing stage back then and the prices reflected the rapid decreases in manufacturing cost along with response to the developing competitive pressure from other car companies. My friend has a model A that runs great, it doesn’t even have a steering wheel, it has a tiller!

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21 J. Money February 13, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Good point on today’s “tech”. I remember when the first digital cameras came out (1 pixel!) and they were going for $1,000 a pop, haha… now you get like 30x that IN YOUR PHONE! (and incidentally some phones now cost $1,000 a pop! ;))

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