Upton Sinclair Redux: How the Model T caught on, making Henry Ford ‘The Flivver King’

Here’s another passage from Upton Sinclair’s 1937 novel “The Flivver King: A Story of Ford-America”:

The little black beetles were out on all the roads, and were beginning to be known by pet names; they were “flivvers,” they were “jitneys,” they were “tin Lizzies,” or sometimes “Henrys”. People were making up funny stories about them; everywhere you went you heard “Ford jokes.” The general trend of them was that half a dozen tomato-cans and a bedspring were mistaken for a Ford car, and after they had been repaired they ran perfectly. Every such joke was a free advertisement.

…The plant was so big now that no workingman saw much of what was going on; but he heard about it, in one way or another, and it was like being on hand at the creation of the world. God said, Let there be light, and there was light. Henry said, Let there be flivvers, and one of the “Ford jokes” told about a man who went through the Highland Park plant, and came out scratching his hair, exclaiming: “Seems like I feel those little things crawling all over me!”

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