Ford in Europe - An historical time line
1906: First sale of a Ford automobile to a Spanish customer when Don Eduardo Chalaux of Barcelona buys a Model N.
1907: Ford has distributors in Germany, Belgium, Spain, Holland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Poland and Russia.
1908: World show premiere of Model T Ford at Olympia (London) Motor Exhibition in November. Establishment of Paris Branch Company to supervise European sales.
1909: Percival Perry appointed manager of new Ford London branch company. Ford Canada waives rights to British and Irish markets.
1911: March 8: Ford Motor Company (England) Ltd. incorporated. October 23: Production begins in a former tram and railway carriage works at Trafford Park, Manchester, the first Ford factory outside North America.
1913: Model T assembly begins in rue Fondaudége, Bordeaux, in premises owned by French Ford agent Henri Depasse.
1914: Europe's first moving production line installed in the UK at Trafford Park.
1916: May 25: Perry forms Automobiles Ford in Paris to take over Ford operations in France. Bordeaux factory acquired from Depasse in July.
1917: Henry Ford & Son incorporated in April with headquarters in Cork, Ireland to manufacture Fordson Tractors. Its plant was the first purpose-built Ford factory in the Old World.
1919: June: Ford turns down a proposal for a joint venture from André Citroen. June 25: Ford Denmark incorporated. July 3: First Fordson tractor leaves Cork production line.
1920: Ford Motor Company SAE begins production in April in a former wine bodega in Cadiz, Spain.
1922: January 30: Ford Motor Company (Belgium) founded in Antwerp. Ford Italiana SpA opens its Trieste plant, which has 75 percent of a market covering 36 countries on three continents.
1923: August 5: Dagenham (UK) chosen as the site of a new Ford Britain factory. October: Conference of foreign managers held in Dearborn (European general manager, seven European company managers, managers of three South American companies plus Cuba).
1924: March 6: Foundation of Ford Motor Company of Holland. May 16: Ford Motor Company A/B founded in Stockholm, Sweden. July 10: Official announcement of the intention to build a huge new factory at Dagenham.
1925: Ford France moves to a new factory at Asnières, Paris. April: Trafford Park builds its 250,000th Model T. August 18: Ford Motor Company Aktiengesellschaft founded in Berlin. Lifting of postwar embargo on import of foreign cars into Germany allows the importation of Fords from Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
1926: January 30: Foundation of O/Y Ford A/B (Ford Finland) in Helsingfors (Helsinki). April 8: First Model T truck leaves production line in Berlin-Westhafen factory. November: Sir Herbert Austin proposes a joint venture with Ford for the English market.
1927: August 17: The changeover of production from Model T to Model A causes the temporary shutdown of the Berlin plant (9,000 cars built). Model T production also ends in Manchester, with 300,000 cars built.
1928: April 6: Henry and Clara Ford, travelling as "Mr & Mrs Robinson," arrive in Southampton to inspect Ford's British operations, meeting the King and Queen and business and political leaders. Henry appoints Sir Percival Perry to relaunch Ford Britain as the hub of a new European Ford organization. The proposed Dagenham plant will be the center of manufacture for Europe, serving assembly plants in Manchester, Cork, Paris, Berlin, Antwerp, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Trieste, Stockholm, Helsinki, Rotterdam and Istanbul. December 7: Ford Motor Company Limited (UK) is floated with a capital of £7 million. December 31: End of Model T assembly in Cork (10,000 cars built) signals the end of production with almost 16 million cars built by all Ford plants worldwide.
1929: The Office of Sir Percival Perry is set up to coordinate Ford's European activities. Perry tours Europe with Charles Sorensen from the USA to consider sites for new assembly plants. Turkish assembly plant opens in Istanbul. May 16: Edsel Ford digs the first sod of earth at Dagenham with a silver spade. November: Ford Italiana announces expansion plans based on its new factory site at Livorno, but these are blocked after Giovanni Agnelli of Fiat protests to Mussolini.
1930: January 20: Ford buys a 44-acre site for a new German factory in Cologne. Building a car plant at Gdynia in Poland is considered. September 6: Henry Ford sails to Europe to monitor progress of the1928 Plan.
1931: Ford establishes a Romanian sales company in Bucharest. June 12: 10,000 motorists rally to Cologne from all over Europe to celebrate the official opening of the plant. May 4: The first Model A leaves the assembly line at the Cologne plant. October 1: Dagenham's first vehicle - an AA truck - is driven off the production line.
1932: February 19: A new small European Ford, the 933cc Model Y 8hp, developed in just four months, is unveiled at the Ford Exhibition in London's Albert Hall and goes into production at Dagenham on August 10. Ford Motor Company (Egypt) is founded with headquarters in Alexandria.
1933: January 2: Model Y production begins in Cologne, where the model is called the "Köln."
1934: To get around local production laws, Ford and Mathis of Strasbourg merge to build "Matfords."
1935: V-8 engine production begins in Dagenham and Cologne. October 17: The launch by Ford Britain of the £100 Ford Popular, the only family sedan ever sold at this price.
1936: Ford V-8 assembled from spare parts in Bucharest by two motorsport enthusiasts, Zamfirescu and Cristea, wins the Monte Carlo Rally. Ford's first Eastern European plant begins operation in Bucharest in May, assembling 2,500 cars and trucks annually.
1938: January: Bud Bakker Schuut wins the Monte Carlo Rally in Ford V-8. It is Ford's best year ever. Twenty-six Fords enter and 19 win cups. Fords finish 1-4-5-6-7-14-15 in the general classification. Emile Mathis agrees to sell his interest in Matford. The Ford France board approves the construction of a new factory at Poissy near Paris. October 1: Ford Hungary founded as a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Germany.
1939: June 23: Fordair founded as a subsidiary of Ford France to build aero engines in Bordeaux. Ford France begins truck production at Bordeaux in October.
1941: June: A purpose built aero engine factory at Urmston (Manchester) builds its first Rolls-Royce Merlin supercharged V-12 power unit. Over 30,000 will be produced for the RAF's Hurricanes, Mosquitos and Lancasters. June 10: Matford company dissolved.
1944: December 12: Dagenham builds its 250,000th wartime V-8 engine.
1945: March 6: Occupation of Cologne by US Forces. The Ford plant has been damaged by shelling but Ford Werke’s first postwar truck, assembled from components on hand, leaves the plant on May 8, V-E Day. May 25: Dagenham resumes peacetime production.
1946: January: The Hungarian government transfers 100 percent ownership of Ford Motor RT to the Soviet Union. Dagenham builds its millionth car, a 10hp Prefect.
1947: April 7: Henry Ford dies at age 83. September 19: Ford International created in the USA to coordinate overseas operations.
1948: February 10: Henry Ford II arrives in Southampton aboard the Queen Mary to visit the European Ford companies. June 23: Senior managers of all Ford subsidiaries worldwide attend the company’s first ever full international management meeting in Dearborn. The Romanian state nationalizes the Bucharest Ford plant.
1950: January 27: Ford USA acquires direct ownership of the continental Ford companies previously coordinated by Ford of Britain. October: The new Consul and Zephyr launched at the Olympia Motor Show are the first Fords with monocoque body/chassis construction and the first cars in the world with MacPherson Strut front suspension, now an industry standard. They are also the first Fords with overhead valve engines.
1951: April: Ford of Germany launches its first diesel truck.
1952: January 8: Ford Werke launches its first new postwar design, the Taunus 12 M.
1953: Dutchman Maurice Gatsonides wins the Monte Carlo Rally in a Zephyr Six. Ford Britain acquires Briggs Motor Bodies and its five UK plants for £3.2 million.
1954: November 30: Ford France sells its production plant at Poissy to Simca.
1955: January: Ford Werke buys a factory site at Wülfrath for a new stamping plant. Ford is the first British manufacturer to offer front and rear seatbelts plus child harness.
1956: Ford Britain is the first British motor manufacturer to use a computer and opens its first research and development center, in an old glass works in Birmingham. The new Aveley Parts Centre (UK) ships its first order.
1958: Ford sells its 15.2 percent stake in Simca to Chrysler.
1959: Ford Britain installs its first in-house computer at the Aveley plant. September 3: Production of the new 105E Anglia begins at Dagenham. December 26: The first race for the Cosworth-modified 105E Anglia engine (Brands Hatch).
1960: Ford Britain announces it is to build a new factory at Halewood on Merseyside. October 1: Ford Norway established.
1961: May 29: The millionth Ford built in Cologne leaves the assembly line. July: Work starts on a new central Parts Depot at Cologne-Merkenich. Ford Britain unveils the new sporty Consul Capri at the Frankfurt motor show in September.
1962: The first engine leaves the line at the new Cologne plant on February 12. The new Taunus 12 M “Cardinal” is introduced with a V-4 engine and front-wheel drive. Ford of Britain launches the new Cortina, the first car with a monocoque bodyshell stressed on aircraft principles to save weight without losing strength.
1963: Lotus Cortina with twin-cam Lotus engine is launched in January. The Lord Mayor of Liverpool drives the first car, an Anglia deluxe, off the Halewood line on March 8. Ford deal to buy Ferrari is called off by Enzo Ferrari in May just before contracts are due to be signed. Azambuja (Portugal) assembly plant is completed in November.
1964: Ford is the first company to use computer-aided design to develop new vehicles. Production begins at Genk (Belgium) on January 2. The Ford of Britain Central Office is completed at Warley. Prototype GT40 completed at Slough (UK) facility in April. Cologne’s millionth V-engine leaves the assembly line. Introduction of Aeroflow ventilation by Ford of Britain.
1965: May 30: A twin-cam Lotus Ford driven by Jim Clark wins the Indianapolis 500 at a record speed. October: Launch of Transit van range, the first joint European program for Ford. October 15: Opening of Lommel proving ground in Belgium.
1966: April 4: Purchase of a site at Düren for a new axle plant. Ford signs £100,000 contract on March 1 with Cosworth for the development of a new Formula 1 engine. Construction of a new Engineering Center at Cologne-Merkenich begins. Ford Britain establishes a transatlantic computer link between Aveley and Dearborn on July 1. Ford Britain announces “ADA”, the motor industry’s first computer drafting system. The Dunton Research & Development Centre (UK) is completed. Work starts on a new factory at Saarlouis (Germany). Ford engines power the first five finishers in the Indianapolis 500. The winner is Graham Hill (Lola-Ford), making his Indianapolis debut, the first “rookie” to win Indy since 1927. June 19: First Le Mans victory for Ford GT40 (Amon/McLaren) with Mk IIs finishing 1-2-3.
1967: January 25: Approval given for Escort Twin-Cam project. June 4: Ford Cosworth DFV Grand Prix engine wins its first race, the Dutch GP at Zandvoort, in a Lotus 49 driven by Jim Clark. June 11: Ford GT40 Mk IV driven by Gurney/Foyt wins Le Mans. June 19: Founding of Ford of Europe Inc, headquartered in London. November 17: Escort goes into production at Halewood.
1968: January 18: Escort goes into production in Germany as “joint European model.” April 3: Ford Werke’s 4 millionth vehicle leaves the assembly line in Cologne. June 20: Opening ceremony of the Research & Engineering Center at Cologne-Merkenich. August 1: Production starts at Saarlouis body plant. September 25: Fully automatic wheel plant begins production at Genk. September 29: Ford GT40 #1075 driven by Rodriguez/Bianchi wins the Le Mans 24 Hours race.
1969: January 21: Launch of the Capri, “the car you’ve always promised yourself.” Henry Ford II visits Russia in April. June 15: Fourth Le Mans victory for the Ford GT 40, driven by Ickx/Oliver. September 9: Ford USA announces an agreement with Alejandro de Tomaso of Ghia for an “exchange of technical services.” September 30: The millionth car leaves the assembly line at Genk. Jackie Stewart (Matra-Ford) becomes World motor racing champion in a year in which every GP winner is powered by the Ford Cosworth DFV engine. Matra-Ford is the constructors’ champion.
1970: January 14: Announcement of the formation of Ford Advanced Vehicle Operations. April 19: Start of the London-Mexico World Cup Rally, won by Mikkola/Palm in an Escort. August: Ford buys 84 percent of De Tomaso shares. De Tomaso Inc. is formed to coordinate Ford interests in Italy. October 4: Jochen Rindt (Lotus-Ford 72) is killed in a practice crash at Monza. He wins the world championship posthumously. Lotus-Ford is the constructors’ champion.
1972: April: Mikkola/Palm’s Escort scores the first “non-African” win of the Safari Rally. Emerson Fittipaldi (Lotus-Ford) is world champion driver. Lotus-Ford is the constructors’ champion.
1973: January 8: Ford buys the outstanding De Tomaso shares to create Ghia Operations in Turin. June 14: Ford chooses Almusafes (Valencia) as the site of its new Spanish plant. June 19: Inauguration of the Bordeaux Transmission Plant by Henry Ford II. Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell-Ford) wins his third world championship and retires after establishing a record total of 29 wins. Lotus-Ford is the constructors’ champion. September 26: Ford Espana formed.
1974: Emerson Fittipaldi (McLaren-Ford) wins world championship. McLaren-Ford is the constructors’ champion.
1975: First preproduction engine built at Valencia Engine Plant and completion of the first Fiesta transmission in the new Bordeaux Transaxle Plant.
1976: September 3: European launch of Fiesta. Fiesta is the first complete vehicle ever to receive an Award from the British Design Council. October 26: Henry Ford II inaugurates the Valencia Plant in the presence of King Juan Carlos.
1977: October: Merkenich Parts Center burnt down.
1979: October 8: Mario Andretti (Lotus-Ford) wins world drivers’ championship; Lotus-Ford wins the world constructors’ championship.
1980: Completion of Bridgend (Wales) engine plant. Inauguration of Special Vehicle Engineering under Rod Mansfield. Alan Jones (Williams-Ford FW07B) is world champion driver and Williams-Ford is world champion constructor. September: Escort Mk III introduced, it is named Car of the Year 1981. The XR designation makes its debut, on the new XR3 Escort.
1981: Escort sales reach a million after 13 months. This is the fastest ever first million. Nelson Piquet (Brabham-Ford) is world champion driver and Williams-Ford is world champion constructor.
1982: Announcement of Henry Ford European Conservation Awards. Henry Ford II is appointed an Honorary Knight of the British Empire. March 22: Berlin Plastics Plant inaugurated by Henry Ford II. July 22: Dagenham builds the last Cortina. October 1: Launch of the Sierra. Keke Rosberg (Williams-Ford) is world champion driver. Cork assembly plant closes.
1983: Record 155th victory for DFV Grand Prix engine. October 14: Ford buys 30 per cent of Otosan (Turkey). December 9: Ford and Cosworth to develop new GP racing engine. New Fiesta range with first-in-class diesel option.
1984: Ford is the best selling carmaker in Europe for the full year, for the first time. Ford is the first European company with in-house videoconferencing facilities. April 26: Launch of new Transit with the industry’s first direct-injection diesel engine.
1985: May: Launch of Scorpio/Granada and Sierra XR4x4. Scorpio is the first car range to be fitted with antilock braking as standard across the range and is named European Car of the Year.
1986: April 25: Iveco Ford Truck formed with Ford Britain owning 48 percent. December: The last Capri is built; production totals 1,886,647 of all versions.
1987: January 1: Ford New Holland formed. September 29: Death of Henry Ford II. October 21: Ford purchases Aston Martin Lagonda.
1988: March 1: Alex Trotman becomes Chairman Ford of Europe.
1989: December 1: Jaguar shareholders vote to accept a £1.6 billion Ford takeover. Launch of new Fiesta with antilock braking.
1992: May 28: New Alba plant at Szekesfehervar, near Budapest, Hungary, begins production of state-of-the-art ignition coils and fuel pumps.
1993: March 5: Announcement of Mondeo “world car.” November 1: Alex Trotman becomes the first chairman of Ford born outside the USA.
1994: September: North American and European research departments merge. Mondeo is voted European Car of the Year. Escort is first in its class in western Europe to be fitted with a driver’s airbag as standard across the range. New Scorpio pioneers multiplex wiring.
1995: January 1: Ford 2000 corporate restructuring program begins with the merging of North American and European Operations. April 19: Dagenham builds its 28 millionth engine. April 26: Inauguration of Portuguese Autoeuropa plant to build Ford Galaxy/VW Sharan minivans. May 5: $656 million Zetec-SE engine plant opens in Valencia. September 29: Plonsk (Poland) plant begins production of Escort cars and Transit vans. New Fiesta with Zetec engine announced. It is the first supermini to combine advanced four-channel electronic antilock braking system with electronic brake force distribution and traction control.
1996: January 5: Ford and Jackie Stewart announce a five-year agreement to form a new Grand Prix team. March 27: Ford opens a sales office in Moscow, 89 years after the first Ford agency was established there. May 23: Announcement of a new Belarus joint venture to assemble Escorts and Transits near Minsk. October 8: 250 millionth Ford vehicle produced, a Fiesta. It is also Dagenham’s 10 millionth vehicle since production began there in 1931.
1997: September 9: Visteon Automotive Systems is launched at the Frankfurt Show incorporating plants in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the UK. December: Major new facilities opened at the Dunton Engineering Center as part of a $128 million investment program.
1998: Ford Motor Co. acquires Cosworth Racing. Ford Focus wins the prestigious European Car of the Year award.
1999: January 28: Ford Motor Co. reaches agreement with AB Volvo to buy its worldwide passenger vehicle business, Volvo Car, for $6.45 billion. March 19: Ford creates the Premier Automotive Group to cover Jaguar Cars, Volvo Car, Aston Martin and Lincoln.
2000: January: Nick Scheele becomes Chairman of Ford of Europe. New Mondeo is the first digitally created Ford, cutting 13 months off the development program. Plonsk (Poland) Escort/Transit factory closes. Ford dissolves Belarus joint venture. New Fiesta launched. Escort production ceases at Halewood, which will be taken over by Jaguar to build its new X-type from 2001. Focus becomes the world’s best selling car. Land Rover acquired and integrated into Premier Automotive Group.
2001: January: Transit production commences at a new $650 million Ford Otosan plant in Turkey. February: Getrag Ford joint venture for the engineering and manufacture of manual transmissions comes into operation. August: David Thursfield becomes Chairman Ford of Europe. November: Fiesta Job 1 at the newly renovated Cologne plant, where $500 million has been invested.
2002: February: Car production ceases at Dagenham after almost 71 years and Dagenham becomes the global center of excellence for Ford diesel engine design and manufacture. A new St. Petersburg car factory begins production of the Focus in Russia. October: Official opening of the new Duratec HE engine plant at Valencia, which is part of a E600 million investment at the site. November: Fiesta wins the Golden Steering Wheel award.