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Ford 999, the car that changed the life of Henry Ford

He created it to compete in speed tests and his sporting successes allowed him to promote his company.

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Like many brands that are currently benchmarks in the automotive industry, the genesis of Ford It was related to those first competitions that were disputed at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. In fact, the own Henry Ford he used racing to test parts for the vehicles he planned to produce, although he was so demanding with his creations that he always collided with the interest of his partners who wanted to build and sell them quickly.

These disputes led to the failure of Ford's first two ventures within the sector: the Detroit Automobile Company, which manufactured 20 vehicles in its eleven months of life in 1901; and the Henry Ford Company, in which the auto mechanic spent only four months and that after his departure served as the basis for creating Cadillac Motor Company.

Henry Ford
Henry Ford had two resounding failures before creating the Ford Motor Company.

After the last dispute with his partners, Ford decided to take the U.S. dollar 900 who had contributed and blueprints of a car for speed racing the one I was working on. With the help of the cyclist Tom cooper managed to finish two copies of this vehicle, one he painted red and another yellow.

These machines were very simple. They had no suspension or differential and the steering was controlled with a handlebar. They used a 18.9-liter engine with an estimated power between 70 and 100 hp.  

In mid-1902, while he was shaping a new company related to the nascent auto industry, Henry Ford decided to sell the cars to Cooper already Barney oldfield, who was also a cyclist, for $ 800. Nevertheless, He agreed with them that the vehicles would keep his name and that he could use them for advertisements.

Ford 999
The original Ford 999 driven by Barney Oldfield.

Oldfield and Cooper saw to it that the cars worked properly and once they got it, they christened them. Red was called 999 In reference to Empire State Express No. 999, an American steam locomotive that had set the world speed record with a mark of 181,1 km / h in 1893. The yellow, meanwhile, was named as Arrow Evoking an elegant arrow flying through the air.

With the Ford 999, Oldfield and Cooper grew tired of winning races and became legends of the nascent American motorsport. Oldfield was the most famous of the pair something that later allowed him to become a racing driver for Cadillac.

The Arrow's trajectory, on the other hand, was marked by tragedy: in September 1903 it was destroyed after an accident in which its pilot lost his life. Frank Day.

Ford 999
The Ford 999 at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.

With the 999 already withdrawn from competitions, Henry Ford bought the Arrow, painted it red and christened it The new 999, although I also told him Red Demon.

El 12 January 1904 Henry Ford himself decided to put this vehicle that he had conceived a couple of years earlier to the test in a speed competition. He got behind the handlebars and gave it full throttle on an ice rink on Lake Saint Clairen in New Baltimore, Michigan.

The businessman reached with the prototype the 147,05 km/h and set a new record. Although the brand only lasted a few weeks it was enough to give a lot of publicity to the company that he had founded six months before and that he had called Ford Motor Company...


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Diego durruty

Journalist with 32 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, teammate y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, y and on the radios Rock pop y He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He is currently the director of the portals y, host the podcast motorbit and the magazine Two Daring Guys (Campeones Radio, Radio Arroba and Spotify). In addition, he is a columnist in WorldSport (AM 570) and teacher in SPORTS.

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