Ford Enthusiast’s Guide

Enthusiast Guides

Love the noise of the Mustang, the retro appeal of the Sierra, the transatlantic styling of the Capri or the 1960s chic of the Cortina?

Appealing to young and older drivers alike, Ford have built some of the most cutting-edge, entertaining and accessible classic cars money can buy.

Ford Motor Company was established by Henry Ford in 1903, and since then a wide range of classic Ford cars have achieved beloved and even cult status. 


Yellow Ford MKII RS 2000 drawing by Ian Cook @POPBANGCOLOUR
Heritage customer Kevin Cannon’s Ford MKII RS 2000, drawn by POPBANGCOLOUR for our Customer Stories Project


Fast Fords such as the legendary Escort MKII RS2000 will always be a sought-after crowd pleaser, enjoyed on and off the racing track, while the Fiesta remains a high performance leader, a great starter modern classic.

There are now millions of enthusiasts across the world who’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy their time as Ford owners.

We wanted to celebrate the upcoming 120th anniversary of Ford with a little timeline of Ford Motor Company, some classic Ford car history, and a lot more besides.

Ford history timeline

1879-1893: Henry Ford’s career beginnings

At age 16, Henry Ford becomes an apprentice in a Detroit machine shop servicing steam engines. After other machining stints, time working on the family farm, and several years running a sawmill, he was hired by the Edison Illuminating Company in 1891 and became their chief engineer in 1893.

1888-1893: Clara and Edsel Ford

In 1888, the young inventor marries his wife, Clara Jane Bryant. A few years later in 1893, their only son, Edsel Bryant Ford, is born.

1892-1896: Henry Ford builds his first car

Throughout the 1890s, Ford experimented with different engine designs for “horseless carriages.” In 1896 at age 32, he built his first car, the quadricycle, and drove it down the streets of Detroit.

Henry Ford on his quadricycle, Detroit, 1896

Ford Motor Company is established

The Ford Motor Company is founded in Michigan by Henry Ford and 11 investors. It will go on to become one of the largest family-controlled companies in history.


Four young people aboard a 1916 Ford Model T touring car
Four young people aboard a 1916 Ford Model T touring car

1908: Ford introduces the Model T

The Model T, or ‘Tin Lizzie’ as it became affectionately known, is introduced. It brings motor vehicle ownership to millions of ordinary people and plays a key part in popularising the car as an affordable means of transport. The Model T remains in production until 1927, becoming one of the most famous cars in the world.

Why is the Model T called the Tin Lizzie?

In 1922, Noel Bullock entered a championship race in Pikes Peak, Colorado with his Model T, nicknamed “Old Liz.” Spectators quickly compared Old Liz to a tin can as it lacked a paint job and a hood, leading to the moniker “Tin Lizzie”. Despite being against much more expensive cars in the match, Tin Lizzie won the race. This was widely reported in newspapers at the time and the name stuck for all Model T cars.

1914: Ford offers the $5 day wage

Ford takes the radical step of introducing the $5 per day wage for eight-hour shifts, replacing the $2.34 day wage for nine hours. This encouraged 15,000 job seekers to apply for the 3,000 available jobs at the Model T Plant in Michigan.

1919: Edsel Ford is elected president of Ford Motor Company

Henry Ford turns over the presidency of the business to his son Edsel Ford, and buys out all other stockholders, giving the family complete control of the business.

1922: Ford acquires Lincoln Motor Company

Edsel Ford was instrumental in convincing his father to close the $8 million deal for Lincoln Motor Company, which became Ford’s first luxury division.

Edsel Ford in 1938, photo courtesy of the Library of Congress. Ford enthusiast guide
Edsel Ford in 1938, photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
1941: World War II pauses civilian production

Ford shifts completely to military production after Pearl Harbour, as WWII continues to the point of American involvement. They produce hundreds of thousands of automobiles for the U.S. military, before civilian car production resumes again in July 1945.

1943-1947: Later career and death

Edsel Ford dies of stomach cancer and Henry Ford resumes control of the company. In 1945, he was forced to hand over control to Henry Ford II, his grandson. Henry Ford I died in 1947.

Steve McQueen in Bullitt with his Ford Mustang
Four years after the Mustang was launched, it was immortalised by Steve McQueen in the hit film Bullitt

1964: Debut of the Ford Mustang

The first ever Ford Mustang arrives to the public in 1964 and is an immediate hit. The beloved model is immortalised soon after in the 1968 film Bullitt.

What is the name Mustang based on?

There are many theories of what the Ford Mustang was named after, from the wild Mustang horses that roam the American West to a college football team admired by Lee Lacocca, general manager of the Ford Division when the Mustang was being developed. While this is still debated, most historians credit executive stylist John Najjar, who designed the prototype 1964 Mustang and was a fan of the World II P-51 Mustang fighter plane.

1966: Historic victory in Le Mans

Ford claims its first ever – “24 Hours of Le Mans” – title with Ken Miles winning, an accolade it would retain in – 1967, 1968 and 1969. The story of the first victory would go on to be dramatised in the 2019 film “Ford vs. Ferrari”.

1967: Ford of Europe is established

Ford of Europe is established, merging the operations of Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany. A year later the first gen Escort is launched.

1976: Ford Fiesta debuts

Ford brings the Fiesta to the market – their smallest car on sale and the best-selling car in UK history.

The early development for the Fiesta (project Bobcat) took place in a new production facility in Valencia, Spain. Once the Fiesta was launched, Ford split production between Valencia, Saarlouis in Germany, and Dagenham UK.

The Ford Fiesta Mk1 in 1976. Henry Ford II named it based on its Spanish production roots.
The Ford Fiesta Mk1 in 1976. Henry Ford II named it based on its Spanish production roots.
1988: Record profits

Ford’s profits jumped to $5.8 billion in 1988 – the highest annual earnings of any auto company in history.

1990: Ford introduces the Explorer

The Ford Explorer debuts and becomes the best selling SUV in U.S. history, but later declines in popularity with sales hitting an all time low in November 2005.

Does Ford own Jaguar and Land Rover?

Ford Motor Company took over ownership of Jaguar in 1999 and Land Rover in 2000, selling both to Tata Motors in 2008, which then created the Jaguar Land Rover – still in production today. Find out more about the history of Land Rover with our guide for Landy enthusiasts.


2000: Ford Explorer tyre defect controversy

Ford is inundated with lawsuits after 271 rollover deaths in Ford Explorers – 6.5 million tyres are recalled. The tyre controversy damaged the brand’s reputation and likely contributed to the decline of the Explorer.  

2005: Market share decline

Ford has one of its worst years in history – selling 2.9 million vehicles for 17.4% market share. GM’s Chevrolet replaces Ford as the best-selling brand in the U.S.

2009: Ford provides an Eco boost

Ford’s EcoBoost engine, which delivers more power at a better rate of fuel economy, becomes a popular choice in the US and beyond.

2021: The electric revolution continues

While Ford first ventured into the world of electric vehicles several years earlier, 2021 sees its biggest involvement to date, as they announce a $30 billion dollar investment into electrification.

Fords on Film: Top 5

1. Ford vs. Ferrari

The most famous example of Ford on film is probably the 2019 sports drama Ford vs. Ferrari, based on the true story of the match between Ken Miles in the Ford and Lorenzo Bandini in the Ferrari, and the historic first-ever win of Ford against Ferrari at 24 Hours of Le Mans 1966.

The film details the history of the rivalry between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari, which led to the two iconic car manufacturers going head-to-head at Le Mans, and – most significantly – to the development of the GT40 in the first place,  which went on to dominate Le Mans in the late 1960s. The film featured a star-studded cast led by Christian Bale and Matt Damon, with the Ford Mustang and Ford GT40 Mk II also featured prominently. It went on to make over $225m at the box office globally, and also won two Oscars.

Ford vs Ferrari 2019 movie poster_Ford enthusiasts guide
Ford vs Ferrari featured Christian Bale as Ken Miles and Matt Damon as Caroll Shelby
Starsky and Hutch Ford Gran Torino
The 2004 Starsky and Hutch remake still had the Ford Gran Torino, aka the striped tomato

2. Starsky & Hutch

The classic detective TV show received an updated film remake in the early 2000s. If there was one thing the Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller-led flick carried over from the 70s show more than anything else, it was the classic red 1975 Gran Torino that is even more famous than the detectives who drove it.

3. Grease

Although the car didn’t feature as prominently in the plot of this iconic film, it features highly on our list due to the fact that the 1948 Ford Deluxe is the centrepiece of one of the most beloved songs of all-time, “Greased Lightning.”

Ford Deluxe made famous by the movie Grease_Ford enthusiasts guide
The T-birds with Greased Lightning before her makeover
Ford Thunderbird Thelma and Louise_Ford Enthusiasts Guide
Thelma and Louise in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird

4. Thelma & Louise

The cult-classic 1991 comedy about two friends – played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon – on a crime caper is notable not just because of the stunning 1966 Ford Thunderbird they drove, but also because it is one of the few films, even to the present day, which focuses on female drivers.

5. Bullitt

While Ford first ventured into the world of electric vehicles several years earlier, 2021 sees its biggest involvement to date, as they announce a $30 billion dollar investment into electrification.

No list of the iconic appearances of Ford in cinema would be complete without mention of one of the coolest ever pairings of actor and car, namely Steve McQueen and the 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback. 

Not only did the car look incredible, it was also showcased to its full potential as it took part in one of the longest car chases in film history, racing through the streets of San Francisco for over 10 minutes of screen time!

Steve McQueen, Bullitt, Ford Mustang
That Mustang again, in colour

Five fascinating Ford facts

As Ford enthusiasts, we’re sure you’ll be familiar with much of Ford’s history and the range of classic Fords that have hit the market over the years, so we’ve delved a little deeper to find some facts that may surprise even the most ardent Ford enthusiast.

It’s hard to imagine the iconic Ford Capri under any other name, but it almost didn’t exist as the Capri at all.

In fact, for much of its development, it had been due to be called the Colt (in tribute to its ‘big brother’, the Mustang), before a late name change. The Capri was intended to be a hit with a younger audience, hence the short tail, long bonnet and fake air vents in the rear wings.

While the Ford Colt is a strong name, we definitely think they made the right choice with Capri!

When Ford Motor Company was first established in 1903, the original logo was far more intricate with an art nouveau border.

The emblem was then redesigned dozens of times to keep up with modern times, with the signature Blue Oval not being used in 1927, first appearing on the Ford Model A.

Find out more about it by reading our guide on the History of the Ford Logo.

Henry Ford rightly believed that gasoline exhaust fumes polluted the air and was intent on finding alternatives; for instance, experimenting with alcohol fuelled engines for the Model T.

Ford Motor Company was an early adopter of the Green initiative and started using biofuels in their manufacturing plants in 1930. Ford also used Ostrich feathers to dust cars before painting as an alternative to plastic. 

While Ford first ventured into the world of electric vehicles several years earlier, 2021 sees its biggest involvement to date, as they announce a $30 billion dollar investment into electrification.

American Presidents past and present have owned some legendary Ford cars. John F. Kennedy drove the 1961 Thunderbird Convertible and 1963 Thunderbird Hardtop. Bill Clinton was a big fan of the Mustang and owned a light blue 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible. Barack Obama owned the eco-friendly 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid while in office. While for years, George W. Bush’s personal car was a 2009 Ford F-150, which sold at auction in 2013 for $300,000. Today,  the prototype of the electric F-150 minitruck is owned by the current U.S. President Joe Biden.

Ford Motor Company purchased the electronics manufacturer Philco in 1961 and worked with NASA to build and maintain the Mission Control Centre in Houston for Apollo 11.

Philco-Ford was involved in all Apollo missions, launched more satellites than any other company in the world and later played a significant role with operations for Skylab and the Space Shuttle under the new name Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation. 

Classic Ford insurance is easy to get with Heritage, and it can cover your vintage and classic Fords as well as any modern examples of Blue Oval engineering that you own. For more info and a quote, just click below.

Ford Enthusiasts clubs and events

Ford clubs have been around almost as long as cars have been available, forming the basis for many shared interest communities.

Enthusiasts today can meet like-minded owners at events around the UK and the world. Some of the best known Ford events include Cars in the Park, Ford Fair, the Classic Ford Show, Bromley Pageant, the Tatton Classic Car Show, the Old Ford Rally, Ford on the Fairway and Fiesta in the Park.  

Fans of all ages have an open invitation to attend these events, with retail stands, competitions, live action and much more on offer.

You can become a part of this community today – if you’re not already – by joining an owners club, forum or community. Some of the most well-known are:

Ford Group UK – with monthly meetups in Essex

Ford’s the Only Way – with 56k strong followers

Ford Club GB – with events in Kent, Wiltshire and more

The Ford Classic and Capri Owners Club – with biannual meetings in Essex

Old Skool Ford – dedicated forum for classic Ford enthusiasts

The Capri Club – international club with monthly magazine

Ford Cortina Owners Club – follow the blog and get the latest Cortina news

Ford Anglia 105E Owners Club – with spares and a bi-monthly magazine

Ford Cortina MKII Owners Club – with an annual National Rally in Stratford upon Avon

Ford RS Owners Club – with annual events and local groups worldwide


There are bound to be Ford clubs and events we’ve missed, so if you want to see yours added to our list, just send us an email at marketing@heritagecarinsurance.co.uk 


We speak with classic Ford enthusiasts nearly every day to help them find the ideal Ford classic car insurance. Become a part of this community, and read our owner stories for the Ford Fiesta MKII and Ford MK11 RS 200.

Insuring classic Fords

If you’d like to talk about specialist insurance for your classic Fords, we’d love to help. Give us a call on  0121 248 9229 or get a free, no-obligation quote below.