Ford Model T Design Challenge

Ford Model T Design Challenge

As part the celebrations for the Model T’s centenary, Ford has launched a design challenge open to five universities, with the task of creating a modern concept which is simple, lightweight, practical and affordable.


cover image: Ford Model T 2008 by David Beasley

Teams of both undergraduate and graduate students will work to create revolutionary concepts that address transportation needs of the future.  Participating schools are: 

  • Aachen University, Cologne, Germany;
  • Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, Calif.;
  • Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia;
  • Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Mich.;
  • University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn, Mich.

The Model T for the 21st century

The universities are challenged to create "a revolutionary global vehicle for today that shares the Model T’s attributes:  simple, lightweight, practical, compelling – and priced below $7,000".

Two winners will be selected, earning their school $25,000 each in scholarship funds.

"The Model T is a true product of an engineering genius.  Although simple and practical, it changed the way we live, work and play and met the needs of millions," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s vice president of Engineering for Global Product Development.

 "Through this challenge we’re looking for the students to push the boundaries and deliver an alternative transportation concept for tomorrow – and beyond."

Each university received $75,000 in funding from Ford Global Technologies, LLC to support the creation of a vehicle concept through sketches, models, research papers and potentially even working models that deliver on the brief.

Students have until 1 September 2008 to submit their proposals.  Five judges from Ford Motor Company, including Mascarenas and Coughlin, will critique each concept.  The two concepts that best embody the Model T spirit, personify the Ford brand and meet the challenge criteria will each be awarded $25,000 from Ford Global Technologies for university scholarships on the anniversary of Model T – Oct. 1, 2008.

1911 Ford Model T line up adThe teams are challenged to create a vehicle that is simple, durable and lightweight.  Each vehicle must accommodate at least two passengers and offer solutions that address assembly, powertrain and sustainability.

Plus, perhaps the most challenging task, the vehicle must have a range of at least 200 kilometers (approximately 125 miles), and come equipped with a base target price of only $7,000.

“It’s not often we celebrate the centennial anniversary of an iconic vehicle, so we created the Model T Challenge as the perfect opportunity for students to conceptualize future transportation in a way that is unique to Ford," said Bill Coughlin, president and chief executive officer of Ford Global Technologies, LLC.

 "To date, there has never been a vehicle that has left such an impact on the lives of millions, and Ford is challenging students to present an alternative that just might do so again."

Celebrating an Icon

1912 Ford Model T Ford Model T - History Timeline

During the next six months, Ford will recognize the Model T’s historic milestone through a series of regional celebrations joined by thousands of Model T owners and global enthusiasts. 

Beginning on Sept. 5, Ford along with The Henry Ford will host the largest Michigan gathering of Model Ts. 

The weekend event will kick off with a Model T display on the grounds of Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn for employees, families and friends. 

More than 200 Model Ts are expected to appear. 

Those vehicles also will cruise over to celebrate at The Henry Ford’s Old Car Festival on Sept. 6 and Sunday, Sept. 7.

Ford Model T Facts

  • 1912 Ford Model TOctober 1, 1908 marks the anniversary of the first Model T built for sale.
  • The Model T was the first low-priced, mass-produced automobile with standard, interchangeable parts.
  • The Model T was equipped with a 20-horsepower, four-cylinder engine with a top speed of approximately 45 miles per hour, weighed 1,200 pounds, and achieved 13-21 miles per gallon.
  • The first Model Ts sold for $825 – an unexpected bargain compared to other cars and even more remarkable is that during its 19 years of production, Ford continued to steadily lower its price, thanks to manufacturing efficiencies.
  • The moving assembly line for the Model T revolutionized manufacturing in 1913.
  • More than 15 Million Model Ts had been sold by May 26, 1927, when a ceremony marked the formal end of Model T production.
  • Henry Ford called the Model T "the universal car," a low-cost, reliable vehicle that could be maintained easily and could successfully travel the poor roads of the era.
  • In 1921, the Model T accounted for almost 57 percent of the world’s automobile production. 
  • On Dec. 18, 1999, the Ford Model T was named "Car of the Century" by a panel of 133 automotive journalists and experts who began with a list of 700 candidates in 1996 and sequentially narrowed the nominees through seven rounds of balloting over three years.

(Source: Ford)

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