Part 3 of the Historic Vehicle Association’s documentary video series, The 15 Millionth Ford Model T, shows the profound impact that the Model T had on American society through the teens and ’20s.
Titled “Unexpected Consequences,” this chapter delves into Henry Ford adaptation of the moving assembly line to boost production while cutting costs. But the monotony of assembly line work drove workers away, that is until the automaker raised the base salary to a stunning $5 per day, which then helped create the rise of the blue-collar middle class.
That industry-leading wage brought a flood of prospective workers to Ford’s door, allowing the paternalistic company to pick and choose its employees based on their lifestyles as well as their abilities.
The new mobility of the Model T helped create the suburbs, as workers could finally afford the cars they were building. And as the ranks of workers expanded, the balance of power shifted as labor unions were formed.
Next up is chapter 4 in the series titled “The End of an Era,” when the Model T becomes outmoded and a new kind of affordable Ford takes its place.