Photo journal

Feb 24, 2007

Mass production began in Detroit in 1914 when Henry Ford discovered that a moving assembly line using interchangeable parts could radically reduce the cost of making motor cars. He sold 28m Model T Fords, transforming America into the first car-owning democracy, at a price that dropped from $600 to $250 over 15 years.

Ford was even more determined to resist unions than GM, and Henry Ford employed 3,000 “service department” personnel to prevent them taking hold. In 1937 they beat up key UAW union organisers attempting to hand out leaflets near the River Rouge factory. But in 1941, even Ford was forced to yield to union power, to ensure industrial peace during wartime. But the legacy of bitter industrial relations endured.