The 1903 Ford Model A is quite historic in the fact that this model was the first Henry Ford produced. The 1903 Ford Model A aside from being the first Ford car produced was also profitable for the company. It was available as either a two or four seater and was produced in only the color red. Ford Motor Company of course reintroduced the Model A in 1928 as a replacement for the highly successful Model T.
As you can imagine, the Ford Model A of 1903 had some problems. Engineering problems were fairly commonplace with any automobile built in this very early era. The most common problems were either engine overheating and/or transmission slippage.
The Importance of the 1903 Ford Model A
Making of success of the 1903 Ford Model A was critical to the aspirations of Henry Ford. These were the first automobiles he built for sale. Ford had tried his hand with cars prior to 1903 but met with average success. Not enough success to go into full production.
By the time the Model was unveiled Henry Ford's cash was dwindling fast. On July 15 of 1903 as luck would have it Henry Ford received cash for the full price of one vehicle and down payments for two others. That in itself was enough to keep the Ford Motor Company in business. Therefore, when you look at the 1903 Model A it's significance cannot overstated. According to Ford Motor, a red 1903 Model A Rear Entry Tonneau is believed to be car number 3, chassis number. 30, and the lone survivor of the group of Model A cars sold that particular July day in 1903. That particular historic car was purchased by Ford Chairman Bill Ford.
In a way you could say that the 1903 Ford Model A helped launch the company. It's often been said that Henry Ford and James Couzens had bet the entire company on having product ready and fortunately customers signed up at exactly the moment the cash ran out.
Between the years 1903 and 1905 the Ford Motor Company built about 1,750 Model A's in a converted carriage factory in Detroit Michigan and was on firm footing for continued success. The Model A as popular as it was lasted only two years when Henry Ford replaced it with the Model C.
Ford Model A Specs
Although the Model A had somewhat of a horse buggy look to it, these horseless carriages could reach a speed of 30 MPH. Many early automakers came from the carriage building business thus the similarity.
The 1903 Model A had a two cylinder engine which displaced 100 cubic inches. The engine delivered eight horsepower. The car weighed in the area of 1,250 lbs and had a wheelbase of 72 inches. The car's light weight helped the two cylinder engine deliver ample power.
Links to additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you'll enjoy include:
Something very typical of very these early automobiles is that the driver and passenger sit very high because the engine is mounted under the seat. The drive to the rear wheels is with a chain. A distinctive item which Ford used with his first cars was an actual steering wheel. Other cars at the same time used a tiller like you would with a boat.
From 1903 on, automobile technology was changing fast and by 1905 and 1906 the first Ford Model A's were mechanically out of date.
The two seat 1903 Ford Model A cost $750 with the four seater selling for $850. The four seat model could also be purchased with an optional roof.
The 1903 Ford Model A Collectors Car
A 1903 Model A received an excellent bid in auction. The car's historical significance as detailed above has a lot to do with it's value for a collector. It represents the first product of the Ford Motor Company. As of this writing a restored 1903 Ford Model A went for around $265,000.
(Photos from author's collection)