Two American Legends: Ford and Harley-Davidson
7 January 2000Two American Legends: Ford and Harley-Davidson
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6 -- Two legends of the American road, Ford Motor Company and Harley-Davidson Motor Company, are preparing to celebrate their centennials in 2003, and each company is proud of its rich heritage and contributions to American motoring. Both enjoy leadership positions in pickup trucks and heavyweight motorcycles, respectively, strengthened by customers who are fiercely loyal to their products. In March 1999, Ford and Harley forged a powerful strategic alliance to celebrate their corporate heritage and their common centennials. "A strategic alliance between the Ford Motor Company and Harley-Davidson makes mutual historical and business sense," noted Gurminder Bedi, vice president, Ford North America Truck. "Our common heritage as American motor vehicle manufacturers and our common centennials of 2003 were just too good to pass up as a natural business opportunity. "The partnership makes good business sense," Bedi added. "The world recognizes both companies as original American innovators known for exciting, quality products." The strategic alliance between Ford and Harley-Davidson was announced last year during the famed Daytona Beach "Bike Week" festivities. At that time, the two companies also announced that, with Ford's experience in racing, Ford would provide technical support and sponsorship of the Harley-Davidson AMA Superbike racing program. "There is a natural synergy and benefit to our loyal customer base," said Jeff Bleustein, Harley-Davidson chairman and chief executive officer. "We each bring value to this strategic alliance." In August 1999, the two companies used the scenic backdrop of the Sturgis Rally & Races in Sturgis, S.D., to introduce the first product of their historic partnership -- Ford's limited edition 2000 Harley-Davidson F-150 pickup truck. "This truck combines the quality and durability of the F-150 and the F- Series line, the top-selling pickup trucks in the United States for the last 22 years, with the popularity and appeal of the Harley-Davidson brand name," Bedi said. "We believe this truck will appeal to Harley-Davidson enthusiasts and truck owners alike." "Harley-Davidson and Ford are leaders in our respective industries," Bleustein added. "The power of Harley and Ford alone is very strong. The power of our two brands together creates a number of exciting opportunities for us and for our customers." DETROIT AND MILWAUKEE: PUTTING THE WORLD ON WHEELS The legends of two great American companies were born at the same time at the turn of the century with the hard work and dedication of their visionary namesakes. From humble beginnings in a small garage in Detroit, Ford Motor Company was incorporated in 1903 and sold its first Model A. In 1913, Ford developed the world's first moving assembly line in Highland Park, Mich., realizing Henry Ford's dream of affordable personal transportation. Mass production meant higher volume and lower prices. A 1913 Ford Model T Roadster cost $525, compared with $850 for the 1903 Model A. Also in 1903, across Lake Michigan, the founding namesakes of Harley- Davidson toiled away in a 10- by 15-foot shed in Milwaukee, Wis., in the family back yard of William, Walter and Arthur Davidson. Joined by William S. Harley, with hard work, ingenuity and the goal of "taking the work out of bicycling," the four men crafted their first motorcycle. Through the subsequent decades came two world wars, a crippling economic depression, a tide of foreign competition, government regulations and the ever-changing tastes of consumers. But through it all, each company survived and thrived, today standing as two of the most respected and recognizable companies in the world. Ford Motor Company & Harley-Davidson: Nearly 200 Years Of Combined Motoring Excellence Historical Highlights 1903 Ford Motor Company incorporated. 1,708 Model A's sold. First Harley-Davidson motorcycle built by brothers William D., Walter and Arthur Davidson and William S. Harley. Total production -- three motorcycles. 1904 Ford sets world record for timed mile -- 91.37 mph. Harley sells first motorcycle. 1907 Harley-Davidson incorporated. 150 motorcycles produced. Ford introduces its famous slogan, "Watch the Fords Go By." 1908 Ford introduces Model T. It sold for $850. Harley triples production -- 450 motorcycles. 1909 Harley introduces its famous V-Twin engine. Ford Model T wins New York-to-Seattle race. 1913 Ford develops the first moving auto assembly line in Highland Park, Mich. Harley forms its first factory racing team. 1917 World War I -- Ford and Harley-Davidson contribute vehicles to the war effort. 1932 Ford introduces first mass production V-8 engine, the "Flathead." 1936 Harley-Davidson introduces overhead valve Knucklehead engine. 1941 World War II -- Once again, both companies contribute to the war effort. 90,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles are used in WW II. Ford builds B-24 bombers and tanks. 1948 Ford F-1 pickup introduced. Harley-Davidson introduces Panhead engine. 1953 Harley-Davidson and Ford celebrate 50th anniversaries. 1956 Ford goes public with first stock sale. 1964 Ford Mustang creates "pony car" sensation. 1965 Harley-Davidson goes public with first stock sale, ending 62 years ycle introduced. 1967 Ford of Europe established. 1973 Middle East oil embargo hits America's gas pumps. 1983 U.S. government imposes heavyweight motorcycle tariff to protect Harley-Davidson from foreign competition. 1984 Harley-Davidson introduces Evolution engine. 1986 Ford Taurus introduced. 1987 A revitalized Harley-Davidson petitions U.S. government to remove tariffs one year earlier than scheduled. 1996 Ford celebrates production of 250 million vehicles. 1998 50th anniversary of F-Series pickup. 1999 Historic strategic alliance announced between Ford and Harley-Davidson. Harley-Davidson enjoys more than 54 percent of the domestic heavyweight motorcycle market. Limited edition Harley-Davidson F-150 introduced in Sturgis, S.D.