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World’s oldest Ford back in the family

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IOL mot pic dec19 Oldest Model A 1

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Bill Ford Jr with the oldest surviving Ford Production car.

When we brought you the story of the oldest surviving Ford production car - a 1903 Model A, chassis No.30 - in October 2013, it had just been sold at auction for $264 000 (R2.24 million), to only its sixth owner in 109 years.

Not bad for a car that originally retailed for $850 (R7200) - but what the auctioneers didn't let on was the name of the new owner.

It was Bill Ford Jr, great-grandson of the company founder - and he bought it back for a special reason. Next year, 2013, will mark the 150th birthday of Henry Ford, and last weekend the red Model A was officially unveiled at a Ford employee event to kick off the 150th anniversary celebration of Henry Ford's birth.

A Ford family legend says the old man actually helped load this car on to the wagon when it left the Mack Avenue workshop to be delivered to its first owner, butter maker Herbert L McNary of Britt, Iowa. Certainly he would have been hands-on in the workshop when the first three cars - of which this was one - were assembled, because the money those first three sales brought in had saved the company from imminent collapse.

YEAR-LONG CELEBRATION

The Model A has always been kept in running condition (it had its first major engine rebuild in 2007 - after 104 years!) and it will form the centerpiece of a year-long celebration of the life of Henry Ford, including tours, educational programming, dramatic re-enactments, lectures, integration and special events at auto shows.

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The red Model A will form the centrepiece for a year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of Henry Fords birth.

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Bill Ford said: "The timing was perfect to bring this important piece of Ford heritage back to the family as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of my great-grandfather's birth and his vision to improve people's lives by making cars affordable for the average family - which still defines our vision today."

Among the highlights will be "Coming Together" at the Henry Ford Estate in Fair Lane, Dearborn on 27 July, a free community event that will bring Henry Ford to "life" and feature many of his little-known interests and contributions.

That same weekend there will be a Maker Faire at The Henry Ford, a two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, including a special programme to recognise innovators.

MULTIMEDIA PROGRAMME

From April to December visitors to The Henry Ford will be taken through a multimedia programme using a large touchscreen monitor to access pictures and video clips in themed 20-minute shows (Henry Ford the Tinkerer, Henry Ford and the Model T).

And from May to August visitors to Greenfield Village will meet Henry Ford in an interactive 15-minute play and hear how he was inspired to build the world's universal car, why the Model T was so revolutionary and how Henry Ford's visionary thinking and hard work enabled him to put the world on wheels.

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Herbert L McNary, one of Ford's first three customers, ordered his Model A with a rear-entry tonneau body.

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There's also a dedicated website with an interactive timeline of Ford's life, tours, a calendar of 2013 events and information about efforts to preserve Henry Ford's heritage.


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