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Ford Motor Company is 100 Years Old

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On June 16 Ford Motor Company will be 100 years old and Oy Ford Ab of Finland will be 77 years old. But it wasn't Oy Ford Ab that imported the first Ford automobile to Finland. It was the Nyberg brothers of Nedervetil, who later moved to Gamlakarleby. A history of the pioneers of Nedervetil 1911-18 relates in detail the work of the Nyberg brothers.

When Ford started production of his Model T, the three brothers Alexander, Fritjof and Tor Nyberg from Nedervetil were emigrants in Arizona. With their business sense they realized that the Model T Ford was something in which to invest. What followed was the introduction of the Ford automobile to Finland when the brothers imported the first Ford and built up a sales system.

They went to the Ford sales office in New York and negotiated to establish a sales network in Finland which was still a part of Russia at that time. While Ford was producing and setting up sales of his automobile, he received assistance from pioneers in other countries. He revolutionized the way of life with the combustion engine's triumphal march around the world. On the basis of the experience of the first five years, by 1908 he began production of the world famous Model T which brought a world-wide demand for the Ford cars.

While Henry Ford was building his own enterprise without foreign financing, Ford's first representatives were mostly "self-made men" - businessmen without other capital but with a lot of energy. Their first operation became a great adventure for them with shining results which they had never vizualized. The three brothers from Gamlakarleby were pioneers and adventurers whose foresight we can thank for the coming of age for Ford in Finland.

They were happy to receive an affirmative reply from Ford's New York office as to whether there was an opening for a Ford representative in Finland. During the hectic production schedule no one had time to give a thought to remote Finland as a place for a Ford sales office.

After the Nyberg brothers received approval to their proposal they were urged to contact Ford's chief agent for Europe who had his office in Paris. Light-heartedly Fritjof and Tor rushed back to Finland, while their oldest brother Alexander went to Paris. He used the "captain's title" he had received as a mining foreman in America and reported to the European director, H. B. White. White, who had a hundred irons in the fire, tersely announced that he could give the Finlander only two minutes of his time. But Alexander, slow and thorough by nature, took his time and explained his proposition. When White heard what Alexander said he became interested and asked all about Finland and the two minutes stretched into two hours. Alexander left the office with an agreement in his pocket.

The brothers first had to take a test for a professional driver's license. Their instructor was the known motor vehicle inspector and engineer Thornwald Tawast. Then they set up a sales office at Norra Magasingatan 6 and immediately began to cultivate business from their countrymen. The first Ford was expected to arrive in the country during late winter of 1912.

Drivers were in the minority at this time. Consul Nikolajeff had begun to import automobiles to Finland in 1905, but no one would have dreamed the effect the Ford Model T would have when it came to the country. Automobiles were still a rarity on the roads and were considered a luxury item reserved for the rich.

Three roads reached Helsingfors by 1912 which gave the brothers an opportunity to tour in their own auto around Finland. The first Model T was equipped with a brass hood, carbide lamps and a cloth top. For their first car the brothers had to pay a total of 2500 marks, including freight and customs. The Ford factory established a retail price of 4400 marks. The first test drive only went to Uleåborg and the car generated great excitement everywhere. For the first time people saw a vehicle that drove without a horse and they foresaw that wild reckless driving would lead to the speedy destruction of the world. Gallen-Kallela, who made the first auto posters was at the steering wheel.

Despite old women rolling their eyes, the first Ford was a huge public success. People gathered to see with their own eyes a vehicle that went with its own power, and it was impossible to arrange for test drives for all who wanted to ride. Orders came thick and fast for the brothers who already received a hundred names during the first demonstration drive.

Ole Granholm, Österbottningen newspaper, 8 May 2003

Translated by June Pelo


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