Being the first of something or at something, especially something monumental, is memorable. We all know Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest (and the first to get back down again, alive), but the second man to reach the peak (Tenzing Norgay) is sometimes less remembered. Likewise, everyone knows Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, but ask people to name the second guy to leave Apollo 11's Lunar Module (Buzz Aldrin, for those paying attention) and most people would come up blank.
Cars carry have a similar 'first-one' kind of importance. A vehicle that is the first of a series of successful vehicles (such as the very first 1953 Corvette or 1964.5 Mustang, both of which I'll cover soon) is highly prized over the dozens, hundreds, or even millions that follow it. But what about the first car ever built by a brand that is one of the most important car manufacturers in history? That is the importance of the car featured here.
The primary reason for the grave importance of this car is that it was the machine the launched Henry Ford on his way to becoming the foremost American car builder. Barely able to stay afloat, the sale of this first Ford vehicle in July of 1903 for the princely sum of $850 ($750 for the car, $100 for the body). With the sale of this, and three other similar cars, Ford was on his way to creating the car that would really make a name for himself, the Model T, which he would release only five years late in 1908.
This car was sold on January 19th, 2007 at the RM Auction in Phoenix, AZ for $693,000 (including commission). It represents one of the most historical vehicles in history. Detailed information can be found on RM's site, the car is listed under lot number 247. More pictures of the car, as it was auctioned, can be found on the Autoblog post on the car. The car was purchase by Texas lawyer John O'Quinn and will join his car museum, which will be opening in the future in Houston, TX.
The car pictured here is not the same as the car auctioned, but rather another surviving 1903 Ford Model A Rear Entry Tonneau. It can be seen at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV.