For years, Henry and Edsel Ford had been denying that the day was approaching. Asked whether they were working on a new model of car, after nearly two decades of producing the famous Model T, they kept mum. But, as TIME noted back then, “in the U. S. motor industry it is considered unpolitic for a manufacturer to say that he will do this or that. When he can produce, he talks.”
That changed in late May of 1927, the day that saw the creation of the last-ever, first-ever mass-market car. Over the nearly two decades since it had first been introduced in 1908, it had evolved somewhat—as can be seen in these photos—but it had never lost its signature look. Even though it took a little longer for the actual last Model T in the world to be produced, as various factories wound down those operations, the official date of production of the last Model T at the landmark Highland Park plant was May 26, 1927, according to Ford.
The end of an era came shortly after the company churned out its 15 millionth car, an event that was, TIME noted, celebrated in the only way that would be appropriate: by driving.
Besides being thus frank last week, Mr. Ford, hale again after his motor car accident two months ago…, went with his son Edsel to the Ford assembling plant; watched the 15,000,000th Ford car being completed. Father and son mounted to the seat, Edsel at the wheel, and drove to the Ford museum. There Mr. Ford took the driver’s seat of the first motor car that he ever manufactured, a two-cylinder contraption that he made and sold in 1903. He tinkled the doorbell that served Ford Car No. 1 as signal, and he and Edsel were off in their separate vehicles for a brief tour of the museum neighborhood.
Read more, from 1927, here in the TIME Vault: New Fords