Ford Model A, 1931

Discover the cars of The Automobile and American Art

Media - AHS.510 - SAAM-AHS.510_1 - 138451

Ford Model A, 1931 (model car, 1:18 scale)1931, metal, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Albert H. Small, 2017, AHS.510

About this Car

The Model A was Ford’s second successful vehicle to hit the commercial market. It cemented Ford’s reputation as an automobile manufacturer and carried the company through the early years of the Great Depression. The new car featured several innovations, including laminated safety glass, which was manufactured at Ford’s Rouge factory in Dearborn, Michigan.

Artwork Connections

Artist Marvin Beerbohm’s mural Automotive Industry was painted as part of the Works Progress Administration employment program for artists during the Great Depression. Created for a library in Detroit—the car capital of the world—the mural celebrates the industrial might of the nation and the skill and sweat of the laborers who made it possible.

Andrew Moore’s 2008 photograph The Rouge, Detroit, MI documents part of the Ford Rouge River Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, where the Model A was manufactured. In Ford’s heyday, the cavernous hall would have teemed with thousands of workers and machines. The abandoned factory is a reminder of the Motor City’s glory days as well as its economic decline.