Meet the First-Ever Owner of a Ford Car

While Ford is well-known for its many successes and groundbreaking achievements, that wasn’t always the case for the company. With a heavier focus on motorsports and performance-style cars, the team’s efforts were initially met with little fanfare. As a result, Ford was in the midst of immense financial difficulties and an uncertain future by the time the Model A rolled out in 1903.

Ford’s destiny was ultimately sealed by Chicago-based dentist Dr. Ernst Pfennig, who bought the first ever Model A for $850 (or well over $30,000 in 2024) in July 1903, only a month after Ford reincorporated into Ford Motor Company. Pfennig was born in Germany and moved to the United States to continue his practice in 1883, at a time when the dentistry profession was met with skepticism from much of the public. To the automotive industry, however, those working in the medical field were prime marketing targets due to their high incomes and needs to perform house calls, making cars a more efficient investment over a horse and wagon.

Whether he realized it or not, Pfennig’s purchase would secure Ford’s place as an industry juggernaut. The company’s stream of success continued with hundreds of Model As sold over the following months, accumulating nearly $100,000 in sales within a year. The monumental hit paved the way for new achievements from Ford that would soon overshadow the Model A and cement Ford’s many successful creations into the history books.

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