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Past Exhibits

Please note: This exhibit is no longer on display. The Main House and all historic structures are currently closed for restoration. Please enjoy the educational video below. We will be happy to provide more information about this past exhibit and the current restoration. Contact us at info@henryfordestate.org.

In 1917, Henry Ford and his son Edsel designed and launched the Model F tractor. To celebrate the Fordson’s 100th birthday, we designed an exhibit in the historic Garage at Henry and Clara’s Fair Lane Estate.

The exhibit featured two 1920 Fordson Tractors, including one that has been fully restored, as well as other historic vehicles, videos, photographs and artifacts, telling the story of this fascinating piece of history.

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About the Fordson

"MODEL T OF THE SOIL"

Hailed as the “Model T of the Soil,” the Fordson Model F was the first lightweight, affordable tractor the world had seen.

The labor and food shortage of World War I came to an end because of the Fordson tractor. It became the foundation on which American and European agriculture flourished in a changing world.

In 1915, Henry and Edsel Ford started a new company, Henry Ford and Son, Inc., to develop and produce tractors. Two years later, their team of engineers used the farm land at Fair Lane and the surrounding area to research and develop the tractor’s design. The first Model F came off the production line in Dearborn in 1917.

WORD WAR I IMPACT

During World War I, there was a dire food shortage in Britain that could only be solved by the Fordson. With Henry Ford’s tractor, Britain and America overcame the food and labor shortages. This machine revolutionized agriculture by essentially turning the farm into a factory.

The Fordson also gave the farmer more leisure time, which allowed him to enjoy work and life more than ever before. Farmers worldwide credited the Fordson with vastly improving their work and their lives.

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FORDSON IN IRELAND

Henry set up a factory in Cork, Ireland—his ancestral home—in 1917. This was Ford’s first plant in Europe, spreading his influence further around the world.

The plant in Cork still exists today and is the only Ford Motor Company facility to bear the name “Fordson.” In fact, Cork Ireland is hosting its own celebrations this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the Fordson!

FIND OUT MORE

To learn more about Ford in Ireland and the 100th Anniversary, check out the Irish Examiner's Ford 100 project, including an interactive timeline: www.irishexaminer.com/ford100

Ford Motor Company also has a page dedicated to Ford in Ireland's 100th anniversary, including the history of the Fordson Tractor: www.ford.ie/AboutFord/ford-100-anniversary

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Photographs, from the top:
1. A poster showing the history of the Fordson Tractor, courtesy of The Henry Ford.
2. Henry Ford poses with a Fordson Tractor.
3. Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland, Tomas MacCurtain, poses with a Fordson Tractor in 1920.
4. An early drawing of the Fordson Model F. Tractor.