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July 15: Ford takes its first customer order on this date in 1903

Justin Hyde

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According to the lore of Detroit, by midsummer of 1903 Henry Ford's engine builders — the Dodge brothers — had made clear that if Ford wouldn't pay them soon, they would take their debt with their fists to Ford's face. The Ford Motor Company had spent most of its capital developing the two-cylinder Model A, and was down to about $220 when a Chicago dentist named Ernst Pfenning ordered a fully loaded model for $850. Ford's first customer got his car a week later, and paid Ford in much-needed cash. With 8 hp, the Model A was the fastest vehicle of its time, and by the end of the year Ford was a thriving automaker. Here's what Pfenning heard when he started his prize:

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