May 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT

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.

Read more, from 1927, here in the TIME Vault: New Fords

A Ford Advertisement for Model T Automobile, circa 1909.
Fotosearch—Getty Images
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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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