5 Myths About Henry Ford

The first transcontinental car race from New York to Seattle was held in 1909 — Henry Ford's Model T won. The trip took 22 days and 55 minutes at an average speed of just 7.75 mph. (Henry Ford is shown standing next to the car.) (Courtesy of the Ford Motor Company)

The myth persists that to save money, Henry Ford re-engineered the Model T's longest-lasting parts to a lower quality. The Model T was designed for affordability and reliability, a great source of pride to Ford. Indeed, Model Ts tended to last longer than competitors' cars. As the story goes, though, Henry Ford reportedly sent a bunch of engineers out to junkyards to study Model Ts. They came back and told him that the junked Model Ts were pretty uniformly worn, with the exception of one part: the kingpin, which showed very little wear on nearly every example. Ford then said that new kingpins should be engineered to a lower quality standard so they wouldn't outlast the rest of the car. Historians seem to agree that this actually happened [source: Snopes]. However, the myth is that Henry Ford was willing to sacrifice the overall quality of his cars, and cheating his customers for the sake of pinching pennies. But that directly contradicts Ford's other quality initiatives, where he spent real money to produce a better car. Henry Ford just saw it as smart business not to spend extra money where it wouldn't have been of any extra benefit.