Ford Heritage Vault celebrates automaker’s 120th birthday

After being online for a year, Ford’s free public collection of archival material currently hosts about 40,000 digital assets.

A picture of the production line at the Willow Run bomber plant is Ypsilanti, Mich. during World War II.

A picture of the production line at the Willow Run bomber plant is Ypsilanti, Mich. during World War II.

Ford Motor Company is celebrating its 120th birthday this month. The Dearborn-based automaker was founded in June 1903.

To mark the occasion, the Ford Heritage Vault — which has worked over the past year to digitize materials from the company’s archive — is adding a series of location photos from around the world.

Listen: Ford archivist Ted Ryan discusses the Ford Heritage Vault

Ted Ryan, the archives and heritage brand manager at Ford, says the new uploads include everything from the Willow Run bomber plant the automaker built during World War II to historic Ford sites overseas.

“Fifty different locations — almost 500 photos from around the world,” says Ryan. “And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re going to continue to add location photos to the vault over time.”

Read: Win a classic 1964 Dodge Custom 880 once owned by the Dodge family

After a year of being online, Ryan shares nearly 14,000 assets have been posted on the website so far. However, that only represents less than one percent of Ford’s total collection of archived material.

“Our goal from the beginning was to have the vault be the one-stop-shop for all things Ford,” says Ryan. “And that’s still the north star for the system.”

Listen to the entire interview using the media player above. The archive can be viewed at

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.