Henry Ford

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An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous.
Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863April 7, 1947) was the founder of the Ford Motor Company. He was one of the first to apply assembly line manufacturing to the mass production of affordable automobiles.



  • I don’t know whether Napoleon did or did not try to get across there and I don’t care. I don’t know much about history, and I wouldn’t give a nickel for all the history in the world. It means nothing to me. History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today.
    • Interview in Chicago Tribune (25 May 1916)
  • An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous.
    • Remarks from the witness stand, to a court in Mount Clemens, Michigan (July 1919), as quoted in Thesaurus of Epigrams: A New Classified Collection of Witty Remarks, Bon Mots and Toasts (1948) by Edmund Fuller, p. 162


  • Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.
    • Remark about the Model T in 1909, published in his autobiography My Life and Work (1922) Chapter IV, p. 71; this has often been paraphrased, e.g.: "You can have any colour as long as it's black."
  • I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one — and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces.
    • My Life and Work (1922)] Chapter IV.
  • I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was twenty six. Religion offered nothing to the point. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilise the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan I realised that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more. The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease. If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men’s minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us.
    • Interview in the San Francisco Examiner (26 August 1928)


  • The provision of a whole new system of electric generation emancipated industry from the leather belt and line shaft, for it eventually became possible to provide each tool with its own electric motor. This may seem only a detail of minor importance. In fact, modern industry could not be carried out with the belt and line shaft for a number of reasons. The motor enabled machinery to be arranged in the order of the work, and that alone has probably doubled the efficiency of industry, for it has cut out a tremendous amount of useless handling and hauling. The belt and line shaft were also tremendously wasteful – so wasteful indeed that no factory could be really large, for even the longest line shaft was small according to modern requirements. Also high speed tools were impossible under the old conditions – neither the pulleys nor the belts could stand modern speeds. Without high speed tools and the finer steels which they brought about, there could be nothing of what we call modern industry.
    • Henry Ford and Samuel Crowther (1930). Edison as I Know Him. Cosmopolitan Book Company. p. 15
  • The average man won't really do a day's work unless he is caught and cannot get out of it. There is plenty of work to do if people would do it.
    • On reasons for the Great Depression, as quoted in The Zanesville Sunday Times-Signal [Zanesville, Ohio] (15 March 1931)

Attributed from posthumous publications[edit]

  • You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.
    • As quoted in International Encyclopedia of Prose and Poetical Quotations (1951) by William S. Walsh
  • A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.
    • As quoted in News Journal [Mansfield, Ohio] (3 August 1965)
  • When I see an Alfa Romeo go by, I tip my hat.
    • As quoted in Alfa Romeo. I creatori della Leggenda (1990) by Griffith Borgeson
  • You will find men who want to be carried on the shoulders of others, who think that the world owes them a living. They don't seem to see that we must all lift together and pull together.
    • As quoted in Wisdom & Inspiration for the Spirit and Soul (2004) by Nancy Toussaint, p. 85
  • As long as we look to legislation to cure poverty or to abolish special privilege we are going to see poverty spread and special privilege grow.
    • My Life and Work by Henry Ford (autobiography)
  • Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail.
    • My Life and Work by Henry Ford (autobiography)
  • Mediocrity is the worst enemy of prosperity.
    • My Life and Work by Henry Ford (autobiography)

About Henry Ford[edit]

  • He draws upon his subconscious mind.
    • Thomas Edison, as quoted in The Living Age, Vol. 312 (1922), p. 742
  • If there is any certainty as to what a businessman is, he is assuredly the things Ford was not.
    • John Kenneth Galbraith, as quoted in Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time (1997) by Daniel Gross, p. 79
  • I regard Ford as my inspiration.
    • Adolf Hitler, attributed in Bill McGraw, "Forced Labor and Ford: History of Nazi Labor Stares Ford in the Face", Detroit Free Press, 21 December 1999, p. B1; as cited in Timothy W. Ryback, Hitler's Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life, p. 71 & footnote p. 275.
  • "Progress" is for the convinced ochlocrats a consoling Utopia of madly increased comfort and technicism. This charming but dull vision was always the pseudoreligious consolation of millions of ecstatic believers in ochlocracy and in the relative perfection and wisdom of Mr. and Mrs. Averageman. Utopias in general are surrogates for heaven; they give a meager solace to the individual that his sufferings and endeavors may enable future generations to enter the chiliastic paradise. Communism works in a similar way. Its millennium is almost the same as that of ochlocracy. The Millennium of Lenin, the Millennium of Bellamy, the Millennium as represented in H. G. Wells's, "Of Things to Come," the Millennium of Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford — they are all basically the same; they often differ in their means to attain it but they all agree in the point of technical perfection and the classless or at least totally homogeneous society without grudge or envy.
    • Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn writing under the pen name Francis Stewart Campbell (1943), Menace of the Herd, or, Procrustes at Large, Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company, pp. 35-36
  • It will take a hundred years to tell whether he helped us or hurt us, but he certainly didn't leave us where he found us.
    • Will Rogers, as quoted in Henry Ford and Grass-roots America (1972) by Reynold M. Wik, p. 195

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