The Ford Model T is legendary, as is most everything and everyone associated with it. But if you look at it critically, it was absolute garbage by modern standards, as was the person who created it. Its secret to world domination, however, wasn’t that the car itself was great. It was the leaps in manufacturing that got it there.
Yes, yes, you all know the story of the assembly line (or do you? Just a hint: Henry Ford didn’t invent it), but the real story isn’t all about how fast the cars moved down the line. It’s a lot about fun engineering stuff, like very fine machining tolerances and advanced manufacturing techniques, as described in this extremely cromulent video from the joyful Youtube channel, Real Engineering:
It turns out it’s really hard to assemble cars, which require engines, if you can’t get more than one engine block out the time. Solving little bottlenecks like that enabled Model Ts to be churned out – and churned out for cheap.
But maybe the real innovation of Henry Ford was that he didn’t look at the way existing things were done and say “that’s the way it’s done.” The team at Ford looked at every little element to see how things could be improved, even incrementally.