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Ford Model T: Ultimate starter car

A 1914 Model T might not seem great compared to today's cars, but it changed the world.

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The beginning of it all
The beginning of it all
1914 was the first year in which the Model T was available in "any color, as long as it's black." (The red you see is the cherry wood firewall.) It was also, not coincidentally, the first year of full operation for Ford's assembly line manufacturing system. The simplicity of using a single, fast drying paint, kept costs down.
It almost goes without saying that the Ford Model T was ahead of its time. It had to be because it largely created the times that came after it.

Any street in America - whether it was Main Street or Broadway - in 1904, when the Model T was introduced, looked nothing like it would in 1926, the year it finally went out of production.

By then, America was filled with roadside hotels, parking spaces, street signs, speed limits and ads for cars, car repair, car parts and gasoline.

And the changes in America during the early 20th century were almost exclusively due to the Ford Model T, the car that made cars virtually ubiquitous.

The 1914 Model T I recently drove cost about $500 in its day. Adjusted for inflation, that's about $10,000 today - still dirt cheap for a car.

By today's standards, it is, of course, a primitive machine. But, if you followed all the directions carefully, you could get in and it would take you places at a speed that would have killed the average horse.

But first, you had to start it - without getting killed yourself.

NEXT: Cranking it up
Last updated April 22 2008: 5:03 PM ET