Ford Heritage Vault
(Photo/Ford)

100 Years of Classic Ford Photos & Brochures Now Online: Ford Heritage Vault

The best photos and some of the worst brochures from decades of Ford are online for you to look at, laugh at, and get nostalgic for.

Ford is opening up its archives to the public. The Ford Heritage Vault is the new home for more than 5,000 photos and brochures from the company’s first 100 years. It’s all there for you to search and explore, all for free.

More Than a Century of Ford Documents

Ford Heritage Vault
(Photo/Ford)

Company archivists spent more than 2 years putting together the assets that have gone into the Ford Heritage Vault. They took high-resolution images and original brochures dating from 1903 through 2003 and scanned them all to make them available and searchable online.

The automaker worked with its archivists as well as graduate students from Wayne State University’s library and information science program. Even current and some retired employees were brought in to test out the Heritage Vault before the site went live, and Ford said it was a hit.

One employee, Ford said, was brought to tears on seeing the old photos for the first time in decades.

A Treasure Trove of Old Photos

Ford Heritage Vault
(Photo/Ford)

“We’re opening up in a way we’ve never done before,” said Ted Ryan, Ford archive and heritage brand manager. “Our archives were established 70 years ago, and for the first time, we’re opening the vault for the public to see. This is just a first step for all that will come in the future.”

Seeing photos and images of vehicles from as far back as 1896 is incredible. Yes, Ford said the Vault starts with 1903, but it turns out there are photos of models even older than that.

The simplicity of the 1903 Ford 999 race car is fully on display, as is the Model A in both period and more contemporary images.

Ford Heritage Vault
(Photo/Ford)

Ford and Lincoln are most prominent since they’re Ford Motor Company’s main brands today, but there are more in the Vault. Mercury is there, along with Meteor, Monarch, Edsel, and even Merkur. Images from Canadian vehicles and even some U.K. right-hand drive models have been added to the collection.

A Wonderful Waste of Time

Ford Heritage Vault
(Photo/Ford)

Searching for photos of your first Ford is a fun way to spend an afternoon. Diving into brochures to find out about strange and special option packs is even better.

Ford has included some older RV and trailer towing guides in the Vault as well. So if you’re not sure just how much your older Ford is capable of bringing along with you, it’s a great way to look it up.

Ford Heritage Vault
(Photo/Ford)

Of course, there is no shortage of extremely strange examples of marketing from over the years. Like this 1971 Ford van brochure cover that has us absolutely terrified.

Building a dream classic Bronco or Mustang, looking up your old rides, or just trying to find out how bad the selection was the year you were born. Sorry, fellow late ’70s and early ’80s kids.

The Ford Heritage Vault is a great way to browse away a summer afternoon ahead of a long weekend. We’re sorry, and you’re welcome for the distraction.

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Evan Williams
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Evan has been drooling over cars since the time he learned to walk. Since then he's worked on controlling the drooling and expanded his interests to include hiking, cycling, and kayaking. He went to school for engineering but transitioned into a more satisfying career and has been writing automotive and outdoors news for nearly a decade