Henry Ford's Greatest Invention

Henry Ford's Greatest Invention

The Quadricycle

Henry Ford was born on the family farm on July 30, 1863. By all reports Ford was happy on the farm, indulging his technological inclination by repairing farm equipment for his father. However, when Henry was 16 years old he decided to move off the farm and secured a job in a machine shop in Detroit. By 1893, Ford had married Clara Bryant and welcomed the birth of his only child, Edsel Bryant Ford. 

Henry was captivated by the invention and development of the horseless carriage. Working by day as an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company to support his family, he tinkered endlessly at night in his home workshop to design and build his own automobile.

In 1893, Ford completed his first automobile. The Quadricycle was a metal frame supported by four bicycle tires. It was a rear-wheel drive and had a two speed transmission without a reverse gear. The driver steered with a tiller and sat on a seat under which rested a 3 gallon gas tank full of pure ethanol. The vehicle was chain driven and powered by a two-cylinder 4-horsepower engine.

Ford had devoted over two years to the development of the Quadricycle and after successfully driving it through the streets of Detroit, was seized with a greater zeal than ever before to develop a practical family automobile.

Henry was 32 years old, with a wife and 6-year-old son, when he finished the Quadricycle and within a few short years quit his job at Edison to work full time on the development of his design of an automobile.

The Quadricycle was more of a curiosity than a practical method of transportation. Yet, it was the victory that inspired Ford to devote the remainder of his life to his true passion of developing automobiles.

In the years that followed, the man who spent the first part of his life on the farm metamorphosed into a brilliant and ruthless businessman and entrepreneur who constantly utilized his inventive mind to improve the design of the automobile as well as the methods of producing it. Along the way, he changed the course of the world and became one of its richest inhabitants.