Talk:Henry Ford

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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Henry Ford page.

Any color, as long as it is black[edit]

In Henry Ford´s 1923 autobiography "Henry Ford - My life and work" he quotes himself as saying "Any customer can have a car painted any colour he wants so long as it is black.".

According to the BBC program QI the quote "People can have the Model T in any color - so long as it's black." OR: "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." Was never actually said by Henry Ford or at least there is no evidence he did do.

Luke Corcoran, United Kingdom

Really? I won a table quiz on that quote as a kid. I'm disillusioned.

  • He did say this; the quote is from his autobiography. Incidentally, the spelling of colour with a 'u' is intentional. Despite being an American, that is how it is spelled in his autobiography. 14:54, 28 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I think the point being made in QI was that, whether or not Henry Ford said it, it was untrue - early Model T Fords were not black. Fys. “Ta fys aym”. 11:42, 9 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Exactly -- he generated this quip after the more fully adopting the assembly line. After he realized that drying paint took the longest of any step, he had his factory switch to the fastest drying paint they could find, which, of course, was black. --JamesDMurray 14:42, 16 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

History and fact[edit]

Something like "History is just one damn fact after another" (Jared Diamond, Guns, Gems and Steel, p. 420) is attributed to Henry Ford by a few pages on the web [1] [2]. Another (peer-reviewed?) reference from 1991 [3] mentions Woodrow Wilson as the source. Any comments? - Fnielsen 11:44, 5 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

about communism/socialism[edit]

I recall reading in a Reader's digest once that he said something in the lines of "Socialism is an attempt to everybody make a living without having to work", but I'm not sure.

Unsourced Quotes[edit]

Weren't some of the unsourced quotes from his book? 19:15, 21 November 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Disputed / Misattributed[edit]

  • Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.
    • Attributed to Edward Everett Hale in: United States. President (1922). Addresses of the President of the U.S. and the Director of the Bureau of the Budget. p. 80
  • Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.
    • Attributed in several pre-1950 source to Hannah More, or to the Construction Digest
  • Why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached?
    • Attributed to Ford in: Ricardo Semler (2004). The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works. p. 60
  • Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently
    • Attributed to Ford in: Pam Farrel (1999). A Woman God Can Use: Finding Your Place in His Plan. p. 81
    • The original is found in Ford's book My Life and Work on page 19. I've corrected the quote on the page. --Jrowen42 (talk) 19:13, 26 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Part of the quotes here are moved back to the article, or moved up to the above section.

  • there is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something
  • The secret to success is to understand the point of view of others.

"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."[edit]

I think this quote is apocryphal. The earliest variation of the quote I can find in Wikibooks is from the Franternal Monitor in 1962. But I found an earlier connection with Henry Ford and the basic quote as part of a poem in Napoleon Hill's The Law of Success, where they appear on the same page in 1946, but clearly is not a quotation of Henry Ford. Thus, I suspect that later attributions originated from this. It appears that the original sentiment came from the poem Thinking by Walter D. Wintle.

I think this should be added to a misattributed section, but I wanted to put it out to the community first. --Jacob J. Walker (talk) 05:17, 18 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can you cite any notable or seemingly plausible sources that attribute this to Ford, or is it just something found in internet chatter? ~ Ningauble (talk) 11:51, 22 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
According to Google Books, there are around 649 books that attribute that quote to Henry Ford. So the misattribution is fairly common. I started to research it, because my daughter saw the "quote" at her school on a poster. And while I agree fully with the sentiment of it, I don't like inaccurate information to be disseminated in schools. --Jacob J. Walker (talk) 13:17, 22 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am not impressed by the gravitas of those books, but the attribution does appear to be repeated in print widely enough to be worth debunking.

Franternal Monitor in 1962 does appear to be the earliest known attribution to Ford. The earliest occurrence I found of this exact aphorism (with "'re absolutely right") was a year earlier in a first-person essay, without attribution to anyone, in Field Notes, Vol. 61 (1961: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company), p. 21; but I can't identify the author from Google's snippet view.

Being attributed to Ford just a few months later looks like a classic case of a close corollary to the the second axiom of misquotation: memorable words need famous authors. ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:54, 22 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A quick Google search came up with an entry on the website Quote Investigator that lists a September 1947 attribution to Henry Ford in Readers Digest that is similar to this quote. According to them, the original quote was "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right," and was published five months after Ford's death. Littlejohn657 (talk) 19:43, 16 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Shouldn't the quote be in a section "disputed", or something like that? Now it is nowhere. 09:15, 31 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse"[edit]

Does anyone know if this quote is apocryphal , or did Ford really say it? 16:37, 23 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ford did say that, but it's "... said faster horses" instead of "... asked for a better horse"

—This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

I, too, would like to see a source for this. It seems that this quote has become VERY common in the past two years, but was not used at all before that. Can someone look through their quote books to find this pre-2000s, perhaps even pre-1990?

—This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

Tom Wood contacted the Henry Ford Museum which has an archive of his letters and writings. They politely declined to help but with this rather telling statement: “In the past research on this topic has not yielded satisfactory results either for the researcher or the research staff. Mr. Ford wrote numerous articles for a variety of periodicals and newspapers and the quotes attributed to him were varied and often unsubstantiated.'

Source Another source

There is no evidence that Ford ever said this. It only began being attributed to Ford in the early 2000s. Earlier versions of the quote have nothing to do with Ford. Source

"If you need a machine and don't buy it, you will ultimately find that you have paid for it and don't have it."[edit]

This one is painted up and down the tubes (google who said "if you need a machine and don't buy it") Haven't located a source. 05:09, 31 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Clay Worker magazine of 1926 vol. 85-86 p. 230 (well within Ford's lifetime!) has the quote as "If you need a machine, you pay for it, whether you get it or not." But no source.

The one aim of these financiers is world control by the creation of inextinguishable debts.[edit]

I cannot find any sources for this, but it's a very important thought. (- I think I read it in the International Jew)

The International Jew, Volume 1, Chapter 17 "There is nothing that the International Jew fears so much as the truth, or any hint of the truth about himself or his plans." Read the last line here:

"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs"[edit]

I see this ascribed to Henry Ford in various places, notably the Civilization game series as an aphorism related to replaceable parts or the assembly line. Any source? 04:50, 15 September 2013 (UTC) == Hitler !?!?!==not true The quote ascribed to Hitler by Bill McGraw has any countercheck? I mean: if Ford was an inspiration to Hitler, how could he never be nominated, not even a single time, in Mein Kampf or in any other speech by Hitler except in this book of the 1999?Reply[reply]

Important quote not in here[edit]

"It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

Why is this quote not in here!? I'd have added it right now if I knew what time he made it.

(Your spam filter prevents me from entering the quote source!) Wikidrift (talk) 14:04, 22 August 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's a good question. This has been addressed in this Skeptics.StackExchange post, and it turns out to have been a paraphrasing, by congressman Charles Binderup, of a passage of Ford's 1922 book "My Like and Work" (emphasis mine):
“The people are naturally conservative. They are more conservative than the financiers. Those who believe that the people are so easily led that they would permit printing presses to run off money like milk tickets do not understand them. It is the innate conservation of the people that has kept our money good in spite of the fantastic tricks which the financiers play — and which they cover up with high technical terms. The people are on the side of sound money. They are so unalterably on the side of sound money that it is a serious question how they would regard the system under which they live, if they once knew what the initiated can do with it.
Henry Ford, My Life and Work, p. 179
--Waldir (talk) 17:16, 24 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Corrected the quote from My Life and Work. --Hughh (talk) 18:58, 26 February 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.[edit]

Widely quoted in quote collections and social media, but I haven't been able to find a primary source. W\|/haledad (Talk to me) 16:32, 28 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is quite clear that according to Google Books the quote When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. is:
  • First mentioned without attribution in : Vern McLellan (1988), Shredded Wit, p. 166, and
  • First attributed to Henry Ford in:
  1. Jan Bailey, ‎Jan Bailey Mattia, ‎Patty Marler (1996). Job Hunting Made Easy. p. 77
  2. United States. Army Recruiting Command, ‎United States. Army Recruiting Command. Public Affairs Office (1996). Recruiter journal, Vol. 49. p. 6
  3. Words of Wisdom, Gramercy Books, 1998, p. 154
It is however unclear how this information should be interpreted: Disputed or even Misattributed. None of these three sources seem to be very authoritative, and none of the more recent sources give more detailed information. -- Mdd (talk) 18:08, 30 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it[edit]

I haven't found this quote attributed to anyone but Ford on the internet. As a result, I am surprised it is not attributed to Henry Ford here. Taxee (talk) 22:57, 8 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ford said it, but not exactly as described above on the first occasion it was published (April, 1928), thus I have made a correction in the main article. Ford stated " the probable reason..." NOT " probably the reason..." (which came later, in an article published in 1929).

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.[edit]


this quote is all over the place (internet) attributed to Henry Ford. Is anybody able to weigh in whether that's we he said originally or it's from somebody else?


Ulf 16:57, 18 December 2019 (UTC) 20191218 1755METReply[reply]