The story of the Model T begins at the Piquette Avenue plant, while the Ford Model N was still in production. By the end of 1906, an astonishing 2,194 Model Ns had been built and shipped. With that many cars in service, a number of flaws in the car's design were emerging.
It was at this same time that Ford had learned about a special alloy steel being used in European automobiles. This specialty steel was much stronger than what was then available in the United States. The distinctive ingredient in the alloy steel was Vanadium.
Ford though it was time to begin designing a new car to correct the flaws in the Model N and to take advantage of the new alloy steel. The new car was to be called the Model T.
In January 1907, Ford gave instructions to have a secret Experimental Room created in the back corner of the third floor of the Piquette plant. Work immediately began on the new designs. They were tested on a Model N chassis to reveal any flaws or weakness.
The initial design and development phase of the Model T lasted about ten months. By October 1907, the first two prototypes were built. The design, testing, and refinement phase had advanced to the point where Henry Ford felt that final production drawings could begin. The process of closing out Model N, R and S production and retooling the plant for the new designs began during the winter of 1908.
The first production Model T was completed on September 27, 1908. Production began with only a trickle - just 11 Model Ts were built in October. By December, production had risen to 200 cars a month.
Even before production was started, Ford knew that the Piquette Avenue plant would not meet the long term needs for Model T production. The company's Board of Directors began looking at new factory sites as early as January 1907. By the end of 1909, a new plant in nearby Highland Park was ready and production was transferred from Piquette Avenue to Highland Park in January 1910. Over 12,000 Model Ts in all were built at the Piquette Avenue plant.