The Model A assembly line at Ford’s Rouge manufacturing complex in Dearborn, Mich., in 1928. Photo credit: FORD

The Model A, Ford Motor Co.’s successor to the Model T, is introduced to the public and dealers on Dec. 2, 1927.

Ford, under pressure from General Motors and other automakers, saw its U.S. sales slump throughout the 1920s, in part because few changes or improvements were made to the Model T.

Ford founder Henry Ford first hinted at a successor to the Model T in a secretive telegram to dealers on May 26, 1927, advising that Ford was “starting early production entirely on a new Ford car … with superior design and performance to any now in low price light car field.”

The debut of the Model A was among the most significant vehicle introductions in automotive history at the time and among the most momentous events of 1927, including Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic.

On the day of the car’s introduction, Ford claimed that 10,534,992 people came to see the Model A, a figure that represented roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population at the time.

The Model A, available in seven body styles at launch, was priced comparably to the Model T, with the Model A roadster tagged at $395.

The Model A offered buyers elegant styling — described by some as a “downsized Lincoln” — four-wheel brakes, improved fuel economy, a laminated safety glass windshield, hydraulic shock absorbers, and a four-cylinder engine rated at 40 hp, enough to deliver a top speed of 65 mph.

Unlike the original Model T, available only in black, Model A buyers could choose from four colors — Niagara Blue, Arabian Sand, Dawn Gray and Gun Metal Blue.

Deposits from eager customers poured in, and in the first two weeks the automaker reportedly accumulated 400,000 sales orders from dealers (adding to the thousands of orders that had been placed prior to the car’s reveal).

The Model A was only produced from 1927 through early 1932, with Ford generating sales of over 4.3 million, even amid the Great Depression, and the car helped Ford transition from pioneer to modern automaker.

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