Since 1903, Ford created the world’s first moving automotive assembly line, produced the world’s first mass-produced car, served two world wars, and won the Le Mans. As a result, one could easily argue that Ford is the most iconic American company, having laid the foundation of the modern-day automotive industry. Its vehicles are fairly reliable, relatively cheap to maintain (assuming you use a Ford factory service manual and do some of the repairs on your own) and several of them have left their names in History.
Of course, not everyone is a fan of muscle cars and pickup trucks, but no matter whether you agree or not, you can’t deny that Ford released several interesting cars over the years. In this article, we will look at some of the best cars produced by the American giant.
1. Ford Model T — World’s First Bestseller
We simply couldn’t start this list without mentioning the Model T, the car that started it all. It came with a reverse-flow cylinder head inline-4 engine producing 20 horsepower and had a top speed of 45 miles per hour, which in 1908 was a lot faster than most horse carriages.
The Model T posted record-high sales figures mainly because of its price. At $825, it was a pretty affordable car for its time. From 1908 to 1927, the American giant sold over 16.5 million units, making it the bestselling automobile produced until then.
The car was undoubtedly an engineering marvel that revolutionized the entire automotive industry. However, Ford’s moving assembly line (an industry first) was actually the most significant advancement, as it allowed the manufacturer to produce reliable cars at a much faster rate. The invention allowed Ford to produce one Model T in under thirty seconds, making it the first mass-production car. Today, moving assembly lines are the heart and soul of all manufacturing plants and what allows carmakers to sell cars at such an affordable price.
Even today, the Model T’s engine is widely regarded as one of the best-built engines, outlasting even the vehicle itself.
2. Ford Mustang — the Most Iconic Muscle Car
When listing Ford’s most iconic cars, you simply can’t overlook the Mustang, the car that started the whole muscle car era. Dubbed as the “pony car,” it was one of the world’s most desired sports coupes of its time. First launched in 1964, the Mustang immediately attracted attention with its sporty design and impressive performance. Ford sold over a million units within two years, making it one of the fastest-selling cars ever.
So much that the Mustang’s success soon caught the attention of other automakers and it didn’t take long for Chevrolet and Dodge to jump on the bandwagon and launch the Camaro and Challenger that gave tough competition to the Mustang.
Sure, the Mustang had its fair share of ups and downs through the years but remains the most popular muscle car to this day. Today, a vintage Mustang, particularly the Shelby-tuned versions, is one of the most sought-after collector’s items among motorheads worldwide.
3. Ford GT40 — the 24 Hours of Le Mans Legend
The GT40 was built with one thing in mind, winning the 24 hour Le Mans and marks Ford’s transition from a boring family car manufacturer to an outright racing legend, smoking Ferrari on French soil. If you’ve seen the movie Ford vs. Ferrari, you are quite familiar with the picturesque all Ford finish at the 1966 Le Mans. The GT40 continued to dominate the holy grail of endurance racing from 1966 to 1969, crushing all its European competitors.
The supercar packed a massive 7-liter V8 producing over 478 horsepower and a sturdy chassis designed to last the 24 hours of ruthless French country. The widespread success of the GT40 even led to a production version being made. Today, the Ford GT is reminiscent of Ford’s iconic racing days and can still give any supercar a run for its money.
4. Ford Focus RS — the Scorching-Hot-Hatch
One of Ken Block’s personal favourites, the Ford Focus RS, is one of the most desirable hot hatches ever made. Sleek, compact, easily manoeuvrable, and yet so powerful. You might remember KB’s iconic Focus RS from Gymkhana 9 that won the 2016 World Rallycross Championship. The tiny hatchback came with a 2.0-litre engine and yet produced a whopping 590 hp.
Rallying aside, a standard Focus RS weighs around 1.5 tons, comes with AWD, and produces a solid 335 horsepower. It is also one of the most affordable hatchbacks on the market and requires a lot less maintenance than most of its competitors. It’s also a very straightforward car to work on and can easily be fixed using a Ford workshop manual — that’s not something that can be said about its more complicated German counterparts.
5. Ford Crown Victoria — Big Apple’s Yellow Cab
There is every chance that the Ford Crown Victoria has made more movie appearances as New York’s iconic yellow cab than some Hollywood stars. From 1979 to 2012, it dominated New York streets as the go-to cab model. Apart from that, a specially tuned version of the Crown Victoria called the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor was the most widely used automobile by law enforcement agencies in the US, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.
The car’s sturdy body and massive V8 made it ideal for chasing criminals. Sadly, Ford discontinued the production of this all-time classic, simultaneously increasing its inherent value in the eyes of collectors.
In true Ford fashion, they are also fairly easy to work on. If you still own one and it needs some repairs, a Ford shop service manual like those sold by eManualOnline should do the trick. I have personally resurrected several old Crown Vics by following these manuals and replacement parts are still widely available, making it a sure favourite of classic car shows for years to come
6. Ford RS200 — the Rally Anti-Hero
Another one of Ken Block’s favorite, the RS200 is probably the most infamous Ford car ever made (not counting the second-gen Explorer). It was built to take on the most powerful and sophisticated vehicles at the Group B rally, often referred to as the golden era of rally racing. The RS200 entered production in 1986 and boasted a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine producing a solid 250 horsepower.
Sadly, the RS200 was never able to showcase its full potential at the grandest stage following an incident where the car lost control and killed three spectators at the 1986 Rally of Portugal. Finally, in 1987 the RS200 bid goodbye to the rally tracks forever after a complete ban of Group B rally cars.
Still, this is a car that is sure to keep any rally enthusiast happy.
Owning a $40,000 Focus RS or a vintage Crown Victoria is certainly a dream for loyalists of the brand, but that might change when you need to spend on maintenance and repair. Luckily, most Fords are fairly easy to repair, especially if you know your way around cars and tools and have a Ford motor repair manual to rely on. Of course, not everyone is a fan of the Blue Oval but nobody can deny the impact these vehicles had on the industry. At the very least, they are the vehicles that your favourite American, Japanese or German brand had to compete with, pushing them to always do better.
In all cases, no matter where you stand on the question, we all have to thank Henry Ford for making the automotive landscape what it is today!