Ford is officially 119 years old, and in celebration, the Blue Oval is launching an online archive so car enthusiasts can sift through its long and storied past.
The Ford Heritage Vault is a digital database that contains more than 5,000 curated photographs and product brochures from Ford and Lincoln vehicles, spanning from the company’s founding in 1903 to its centennial in 2003.
The vault allows anyone to view and download the images for “personal use, free of charge,” Ford says. The automaker will update the archive with more automotive ephemera over time, so the vault will only grow in size.
“We’re opening up in a way we’ve never done before,” said Ted Ryan, Ford archive and heritage brand manager, in a statement. “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.”
It took two years for Ford’s archives team to collect all the material. The archive was piloted with the help of employees, retirees, and graduate students from Wayne State University before being opened up to the public.
There’s a lot of great stuff to dig through, including a brochure for the 1961 Ford Falcon, complete with cameos from Peanuts characters, including Snoopy and Charlie Brown. You’ll also find advertisements for a set of pre-Hot Wheels Ford toy cars and trucks that “look and work like the real ones.” And my personal favorite, the Ford Aerostar van concept from 1985. (Please, Ford, electrify this immediately.)
The database is searchable, meaning Ford Mustang, F-150, and Bronco owners can go back in time and find early incarnations of their vehicles. Fans of defunct nameplates, like Meteor, Fairlane, Galaxie, Model A, and Edsel, will also find a treasure trove of material to sort through. Ford claims that one user found the Tempo models their mother and grandmother owned in the 1980s and ’90s.