Any Colour – So Long As It's Black - John Duncan

Title: Any Colour – So Long As It's Black

Author: John Duncan

Date: 2008-03-01

Any Colour – So Long As It's Black - John Duncan

Henry Ford’s design of the Model T automobile between 1906 and 1908 was an extraordinary achievement.  The industry was, at the time, still in an experimental phase and yet this design lasted without major change for nearly two decades.  More than 15 million Model Ts were built: performance and price gave the car an edge.  In this sense they were ‘popular’, yet owners were apologetic about owning one.  Mr Ford had the audacity to provide the car people needed, not the car they wanted. 

The reasons for the car’s success can be found in the details of the mechanical design.  There is a vast technical literature available for the expert or the enthusiast and there are 20,000 Model Ts still on the road.  This book provides a concise and fresh look at the design one hundred years later.  It is not an engineering treatise or an owner’s manual; the aim is to get inside the mind of Henry Ford and to explain the design features that accounted for the car’s success and to do so in a way that will appeal to anyone who would like to know why it has generated so much enthusiasm.  The story is as much about people as it is about nuts and bolts.  The character of the engineer and his design are interwoven to a surprising degree, and the singular personality of Mr Ford is shown to be reflected in his car.

John Duncan was born and educated in Australia, and has had a distinguished career as an engineer in industry and later in tertiary education. After practical training in manufacturing in USA and Australia, he pursued postgraduate work in the UK and was appointed a professor of mechanical engineering in Canada and subsequently in New Zealand. Since retirement, his life has been divided between a small farm near Auckland and research in automotive manufacturing at the University of Michigan, USA, and Deakin University, Australia. He has restored a number of historic vehicles and owns a 1918 Model T tourer built by his grandfather's company, Duncan & Fraser Ltd., which assembled and built bodies for Model T Fords in Adelaide from 1909 to 1927.