Ford and Chevrolet may be archrivals in the marketplace, but in the annals of automotive history, they stand together as part of the bedrock of North American automaking. How fitting, then, that 2003 should mark a significant milestone in the individual corporate histories of both of these important companies.
In June 2003, the Chevrolet Corvettethat internationally recognized symbol of American automotive prowesscelebrates its 50th anniversary. In the very same month, the vast Ford Motor Co. looks back upon the 100 years that have passed since Henry Ford first incorporated his namesake enterprise on June 16, 1903.
With reference to the archives of both General Motors’ Chevrolet Division and the Ford Motor Co., the following two anniversary timelines of significant milestones have been produced as a special collectors’ feature of this guide to the 2003 Nashville International Auto & Truck Show.
Ford Motor Company Milestones
June 4, 1896 Henry Ford drove his first vehicle, the Quadricyclea buggy frame mounted on four bicycle-type wheelson the streets of Detroit.
Oct. 10, 1901 Henry Ford won a race against the auto-racing champion of the day, Alexander Winton. His win gave him the credibility to obtain the financial backing to start Ford Motor Company less than two years later.
Jan. 15, 1903 The first Ford dealership (William Hughson Co. Inc.) opens in San Francisco, Calif.
June 16, 1903 Henry Ford and 11 original investors signed incorporation papers. It was the third attempt by Henry Ford to start an automobile manufacturing business.
Oct. 1, 1908 Ford introduced the Model T. More than 15 million Model T’s were produced between 1908 and 1927, when the company stopped production.
Jan. 9, 1911 After complicated court proceedings, Henry Ford won the lawsuit against the Selden Syndicate. This win freed Ford Motor Company and all other auto manufacturers from paying royalties on internal combustion engines.
Oct. 7, 1913 The moving automotive assembly line was born. The first final assembly line was installed at Highland Park and immediately made assembly almost eight times faster. Eventually, Model T’s were rolling off the line every 10 seconds of each working day.
Jan. 5, 1914 Henry Ford announced that the minimum wage would be $5 a day (more than double the existing rate) for an eighour day (replacing the $2.34 wage for a nine-hour day).
July 27, 1917 Ford introduced it first truck, Model TT.
Jan. 4, 1918 Construction began on the massive automotive manufacturing complex. The Rouge plant made manufacturing history with its scale, degree of integration and innovative processes. The facility allowed for the complete production of vehicles from raw materials processing to final assembly.
Feb. 4, 1922 Ford purchased the Lincoln brand.
Oct. 8, 1925 Ford built the first of 196 Ford Tri-Motor Airplanes, which were later used by America’s first commercial airlines.
Oct. 27, 1927 Ford began producing the Model A at the Rouge complex.
March 9, 1932 Ford was the first company in history successfully to cast a V8 block in one piece.
Feb. 28, 1941 Edsel Ford drove the first Ford World War II vehicle off the line at the Rouge complex. Ford built the first general-purpose vehicle (Jeep) for military use in March 1941. On Feb.1, 1942, the company halted production of civilian vehicles to dedicate itself to the war effort.
June 20, 1941 Ford Motor Company signed its first closed labor agreement with UAW-CIO, covering employees in North America.
Jan. 16, 1948 Ford built the first F-Series pickup truck, the most successful vehicle line in automotive history.
April 26, 1948 Ford’s first new car model design, after WWII, went into production.
Oct. 22, 1954 Ford Motor Company introduced the Thunderbird.
Nov. 28, 1954 Ford conducted its first crash test.
April 1964 The GT40 Mark II was introduced and went on to take the top three places in Le Mans in 1966 and break almost every established track record at the Daytona 2000-kilometer race.
April 17, 1964 The Ford Mustang was introduced, and 1 million units were sold by 1966, just two years after its introduction.
Jan. 1, 1976 The retractable safety belt restraint system, a new industry standard, was placed in the Mercury Bobcat.
Jan. 1, 1979 Ford acquired a 25 percent equity stake in Mazda.
Dec. 26, 1985 Taurus and Sable were introduced. Taurus reigned as the beselling car in the United States from 1992 to 1996.
Sept. 7, 1987 Ford Motor Company acquired majority interest in Aston Martin Logonda, Ltd., the famous British maker of prestigious automobiles.
Dec. 30, 1987 Ford acquired a stake in Hertz Rental Car Company, and in 1994, Ford made Hertz a wholly owned subsidiary.
Dec. 1, 1989 Ford acquired Jaguar for $2.5 billion.
June 1, 1993 Ford was the first automaker to have dual air bags as standard equipment in most cars.
Dec. 8, 1996 Ford became the first and only auto company to certify all of its plants (140 plants in 26 countries) under ISO 14001, the world environmental standard.
Jan. 1, 1999 Bill Ford became chairman of Ford Motor Company. In October 2001, he added the role of chief executive officer.
Jan. 1, 1999 Ford announced its intention to acquire 51 percent interest in Norway’s PIVCO Industries, maker of the TH!NK two-seat electric city car.
Jan. 28, 1999 Ford Motor Company bought Volvo for $6.45 billion.
May 17, 1999 Ford announced that all pickup trucks will be low-emission vehicles, starting with F-series trucks in model year 2000 and adding Ranger for the 2001 model year, with the large majority preceding any U.S. emissions requirements by years.
Jan. 10, 2000 Ford Focus was the first vehicle to receive both “North American Car of the Year” and “European Car of the Year” awards.
June 30, 2000 Ford Motor Company officially took ownership of Land Rover from the BMW Group.
Nov. 14, 2000 Ford began redevelopment of the entire Ford Rouge Center, which will include a new vehicle assembly plant as the centerpiece of the nation’s largest industrial redevelopment project.
Nov. 21, 2001 Ford Thunderbird was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time.
Jan. 6, 2002 Ford Motor Company CEO Bill Ford unveiled the GT40 concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Several weeks later the company announced the GT40 concept will go into production as part of its 100th anniversary plans in 2003.
June 16, 2003 Ford Motor Company will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Chevrolet Corvette Milestones
1953 The first full-scale Corvette concept was displayed as a “dream car” at GM’s Motorama in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel in January.
First generation Corvettes: 1953-1962
1953 Six months after the GM Motorama debut, the first production Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Mich., on June 30. Fiberglass was chosen over steel for the Corvette’s body material for two reasons: tooling was easier to create and it allowed designers more freedom to create rounded shapes. All 300 Corvettes produced for '53 were created equal: Polo White with red interior.
1954 Three new exterior colors (blue, red and black) and a new interior color (beige) were offered.
1955 The small-block V8 displacing 265 cubic inches was introduced, and a three-speed manual transmission became available.
1956 Roll-up windows were introduced when Corvette’s styling was revised.
1957 Corvettes equipped with fuel injection were available with an optional steering column-mounted tachometer.
1958 Dual headlamps with separate high- and low-beams appeared for the first time on Corvette.
1959 The T-handle shifter debuted on Corvette, as did a storage bin under the passenger-side grab handle.
1962 Corvette’s last year with exposed headlamps, a solid rear axle and a trunk opening.
Second generation Corvettes: 1963-1967
1963 Corvette received a total restyle based on Bill Mitchell’s 1959 Sting Ray race car.
1964 The spliindow design was eliminated on the coupe because it “intruded into the driver’s rearward vision.”
1965 Corvette’s first year for four-wheel disc brakes and the last year for conventional fuel injection.
1967 Standard features of the Sting Ray included an energy-absorbing steering column, four-way hazard warning flashers and a dual master cylinder brake system.
Third generation Corvettes: 1968-1982
1968 The totally restyled Corvette featured an industry first for production cars”T-top” removable roof panels.
1969 The 250,000th Corvettea gold convertiblecomes off the St. Louis production line on Nov. 19, 1969.
1970 The ZR-1 optional factory-installed racing package was offered on Corvette for the first time.
1971 All Corvette engines were now designed to run on unleaded fuel.
1973 Corvettes used a new body-colored front bumper and steel side-beam passenger protection.
1974 Corvette’s first year with one-piece lap-and-shoulder safety belts; it was also the last year of the 454 cubic-inch V8.
1975 The last model year for a Corvette Convertible until its return in 1986.
1976 An over-the-radiator carburetor air induction system was a new standard feature.
1977 The 500,000th Corvettea white coupe with red interioris produced in St. Louis on March 15, 1977.
1978 The new “fastback” body style marked Corvette’s 25th year of production.
1980 Styling changes included a new low-profile hood and a rear bumper cover with integral spoiler.
1982 Corvette assembly moved to the new Bowling Green, Ky., plant on June 1, 1981. Assembly of the '82 models featured the new hatchback design.
Fourth generation Corvette: 1984-1996
1984 The all-new Corvette had a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.34, a 24-percent aerodynamic improvement over its predecessor. The 750,000th Corvette (a 1984 model) was produced at Bowling Green on Oct. 26, 1983.
1985 The addition of tuned-port injection on the 230-horsepower 5.7-liter V8.
1986 A convertible model returned to the Corvette line in '86 (after a 10-year absence), and it served as the Indy 500 pace car.
1987 A new Z-52 suspension option was available for all-around ride and handling improvements.
1989 A new Corvette option was a Selective Ride Control System offering driver selection of three modesTouring, Sport and Competition.
1990 The Corvette ZR-1 debuted and a driver’s-side air bag became a standard feature.
1992 Performance of the new 300-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 engine was so impressive that it was given the legendary LT1 designation.
1993 The 1-millionth Corvettea white convertible with red interior, matching the first Corvetterolled off the Bowling Green assembly line on July 2, 1992. A special 40th Anniversary Edition featuring 'Ruby Red’ exterior paint was offered on coupes and convertibles.
1994 New standard features included a passenger’s-side air bag and introduction of Sequential Fuel Injection.
1995 The final year of ZR-1 production; also the third time that a Corvette paces the Indy 500.
Fifth generation Corvette: 1997-present
1997 The all-new Corvette featured numerous technological advances, including hydroformed side frame rails produced from a single piece of tubular steel.
1998 For the first time since '62, a separate trunk with outside access returned on the Corvette Convertible.
1999 A Hardtop model, with permanently-fixed roof panel and external trunk lid, joined the Corvette family.
2001 The Z06 was introduced with a 385-horsepower LS6 V8 and quickly earned the distinction of being “simply the quickest, best handling production Corvette ever.”
2002 Z06 performance reached another plateau with the infusion of another 20 horsepowerfor a total output of 405 horsepower.
2003 Corvette is the longeseigning, dedicated sports car in North America. In commemoration, Chevrolet is producing the 50th Anniversary Edition Corvette. At the 2003 Nashville International Auto & Truck Show in January, Chevrolet will display a kickoff salute to “50 Years of Corvette History,” which will culminate with a formal, international celebration for owners and enthusiasts at the Nashville Coliseum in June.
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