The truth about “faster horses”

Some insist that Henry Ford believed, “if I’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” In “My Life and Work” (Henry Ford in collaboration with Samuel Crowther. 1922) Henry Ford provided information critical to dispelling the myth of the ‘faster horses’ attribution.

Associating Henry Ford with “faster horses” is not consistent with his perspectives.

My Life and Work by Henry Ford in collaboration with Samuel Crowther. 1922

My Life and Work by Henry Ford in collaboration with Samuel Crowther. 1922

It was life on the farm that drove me into devising ways and means to better transportation. I was born on July 30, 1863, on a farm at Dearborn, Michigan, and my earliest recollection is that, considering the results, there was too much work on the place. That is the way I still feel about farming.” (Ford. Page 22)

My ‘gasoline buggy’ was the first and for a long time the only automobile in Detroit. It was considered to be something of a nuisance, for it made a racket and it scared horses.’ (Ford. Page 33)

Henry Ford knew a lot about horses and his potential customers.

He documented his vision of the future:

I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.” (Ford. Page 73)

Deaths from Horse-related Accidents

Perhaps the most compelling information to dismiss the possibility that Henry Ford considered ‘faster horses’ a desirable outcome comes from the Antique Automobile Club of America. When the Model T production was beginning to scale in 1909,

The American death toll in horse-related accidents is 3,850-more than in motor vehicle accidents

A go-to-market strategy of “faster horses” would have been problematic.

Ford Model T Production 1909-1927

Ford Model T production numbers derived from
Worldwide production except for Canada.
Model T production ended 25 May 1927. 15 million were produced.
The 1920.5 data discontinuity reflects the transition from a fiscal year to a calendar year.
The Model A was launched at the end of the 1927.


This post is a companion to the “The truth about ‘any color so long as it is black’” post.

Leave a Reply