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Ford owed Tin Lizzie to son of Makó

February 3, 2011

Some would say mass manufacturing was born in Hungary, for if was József Galamb who not only created Ford's Model T, or "Tin Lizzie" but was elemental in introducing the conveyor belt to production lines. Galamb was born 130 years ago.


Galamb (1881-1955), the designer of the assembly line, was remembered on the birth anniversary in his home town, Makó, southeast Hungary this Thursday.

Born to a poor family of eight children, Galamb attended school in Makó and in 1901 earned an engineering degree in Budapest. He returned to Makó many times and set up a foundation to support the town's poor but talented students.

Appropriately, Makó's vocational college is named after Galamb, and events celebrating the life of Ford's chief designer will begin with wreath-laying at his bust in the town centre, followed by a talk at the college about Galamb's career by car designer Gábor Szakács. In the afternoon, a caravan of Ford vehicles will drive guests to a ceremony at the one-time Ford outlet.

Galamb's first job was with Magyar Automobil (today Arad, SW Romania), which sponsored a trip to Germany in 1903 to study at Daimler-Benz.

The next year was decisive. He sailed to the United States to see the International Automobile Show at the Saint Louis World Fair, and traveled on to the car-manufacturing hub of Detroit.

It was there in 1905 that Henry Ford took him on after seeing his first sketches, assigning him to oversee the design and production of the new Model T. During that time, Galamb invented the planetary gearbox and the electric ignition plug, landmarks in auto technology. Galamb was also responsible for the seminal Fordson light tractor and the first conveyor belt installed in 1913, and he designed ambulances, light army tanks, trucks and racing cars.

Never forgetting his home town he shipped the first batch of Ford cars to Makó through the port of Fiume (today Rijeka, Croatia) in 1921. Galamb himself returned to the town next year to help finish work on one of Hungary's first car saloons and shops his two brothers had opened.



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