Early car factory, Bishops Green, Coventry, West Midlands, 1907.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph by Argent Archer. Early motor cars were produced on a small scale, with all parts fitted by hand, until the advent in 1909 of Henry Ford's assembly line for producing the Model T Ford in Detroit, Michigan, United States. With the growing popularity of the motor car in Britain, the West Midlands became the centre of the vehicle manufacturing industry, as it had been for the bicycle-making industry in the 19th century. Both processes required similar engineering skills. Many manufacturers sprang up, some of which went on to become household names and large producers. Others were small-scale businesses which made only a handful of cars, and whose existence was only fleeting.