Ford Archive site crashes after releasing car photos, brochures

Ford Motor Co. revealed photos so delicious that they crashed the computer system.

Public response to free access to images of classic Ford, Lincoln and Edsel vehicles and vintage sales brochures (including Mustang, Bronco and F-150) wowed collectors and gearheads on June 16.

A screenshot from the homepage of the new Ford Heritage Vault.  Car collectors, gearheads, journalists and researchers swamp Ford Heritage Archive site for free photos, brochures as project launches.

“We created demand for people across middle America to go see the cars they grew up with,” Ford archivist Ted Ryan told the Free Press. “Unfortunately for us, everybody went at the same time and it took the site down.”

In the first two weeks, 64,000 users generated 750,000 searches of the Ford Heritage Archive site, he said Friday.

The sales brochure file already includes Mercury vehicles with photos to follow soon.

“My car was a 1977 Mercury Capris,” Ryan said. “People had to hunt for brochures of vehicles on the Internet. Often, they’re behind paywalls.”

What may sound like a gearhead convention to some people is a fantasy come true for others.

Ted Ryan, Archives and Heritage Brand Manager at Ford Motor Company, at world headquarters in June 2018 in Dearborn with a 1903 Model A, the oldest surviving Ford car.  It was one of the first three ever produced.

“I warned everybody this would be popular. No one believed me,” Ryan said. “It’s not just a website, it’s sharing Ford history.”

The company booked him for more media interviews than any single topic except the launch of the all-electric 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, he said. They weren’t The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. It was small broadcast news outlets, ranging from a community station in Howell, to a syndicated car show in San Diego to a Christian radio program in North Carolina.

“Station after station after station,” Ryan said. “I got a note from (Ford CEO) Jim Farley that said, ‘Ted, thanks for breaking the internet.’ He gets it. People love their cars.”

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