Henry Ford Didn’t Invent the V-8

June 1, 2009 at 8:10 pm 1 comment

Contrary to popular belief, Henry Ford didn’t invent the V-8 engine. If Ford didn’t do it then who did? The V-8 was actually invented in 1902 by a Frenchman named Leon Levavasseur. That same year he took out a patent for his V-8. This was thirty years before Ford’s first V-8 powered automobile rolled off the assembly line. The reason we all think Henry did it was that he and later Chrysler perfected the V-8 for mass production.

Up until 1932 most V-8’s had individual cylinder sleeves that bolted onto a block containing the crankshaft. They were expensive to manufacture and appeared mostly in luxury cars of the time. Ford wanted a V-8 with the cylinders cast in the block not bolted on and he wanted it to be cast in one casting to cut down cost. He wanted an affordable V-8 to power his car so that the common man could afford to buy it. Ford was a visionary. He knew it could be done but he didn’t know how. What he did was to hire the smartest engineers of the time. He gathered them together and told them what he wanted. They told him it  couldn’t be done. So he gave them some motivation. He offered them a choice. Come up with a way to do it or find employment elsewhere. In 1932 a new Ford rolled off the assembly line and it contained the new cast in one V-8 engine. Ford had revolutionized the industry. Chevrolet didn’t have a V-8 available until 23 years later in 1955.

So here’s my point. Ford didn’t know how to do what he envisioned. He had built his first prototype motorized carriage in his backyard shop about the same time Levavasseur patented his V-8. Ford had mechanical skills. By 1932 Ford was a captain of industry not a mechanic or engineer. What he envisioned was way beyond his skill set. He could run a huge corporation but he didn’t have a clue how to cast a V-8 engine block in one casting. What Ford did know was how to pick good people and motivate them and that’s just what he did. The result was the dominance of the auto industry for over 20 years. It was Ford’s little V-8 that helped start the hot rod craze of the late forties and fifties. The technology that the Ford Motor Company came up with in 1932 was to set the standard for automobile manufacturing for years to come.

Small businesses owners need to learn from Ford’s example. Ford didn’t know everything. He didn’t try to. He knew that whatever he needed was out there. It was just a matter of finding it. So he hired smart, thinking, idea people to make his dreams a reality. Small Business owners have the same problem Ford had. They often have great ideas on how to market and promote their business. They may understand the need for advertising and marketing but they are at a loss as to how to get it accomplished. Many attempt to wing it with disappointing results, many headaches and wasted investment. Others don’t try at all because of the frustration involved with trying to do it on their own. Then there’s the time factor. Proper marketing and advertising takes time to develop and execute. Not many small business owners have the luxury of a lot of time.

The small business owner can do just what Ford did. They can hire smart, thinking, idea freelance talent to do the marketing and advertising of their business, the owner can see his vision come alive just as Ford’s dream of a innovative V-8 did. Freelance creative talent can take that vision and make it come alive with less cost than a large advertising firm. Freelance talent can also be more cost effective than trying to hire someone in house to do the work. By hiring a freelancer by the project or the hour the cost stops once the project is completed, but the well crafted project keeps making the small business owner money.

Henry Ford went down in history as one of our industrial giants. Yet as you can see it was his ability to delegate, select the best minds, and motivate them that really made him a success. By following Ford’s example, small businesses can benefit by hiring great freelance talent to meet their marketing and advertising needs.

Next week I answer the question: “Just what is a Creative Project Manager?”

If I can be of help to visionary small business owners struggling to tell her or his story please contact me at mirvin1129@yahoo.com or give me a call at 913-677-7060. I can make your V-8 vision happen.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

The Revolution Has Begun! But Don’t Call Me Johnson

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Michael Burns  |  June 4, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Well written article. I really enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.


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