FACT CHECK: Did Henry Ford Say, ‘If I Had Asked People What They Wanted, They Would Have Said Faster Horses’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims industrialist Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Verdict: False

The Daily Caller News Foundation found no evidence that Ford ever said or wrote this expression.

Fact Check:

Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, revolutionized the automobile industry with his use of the assembly line to mass-produce Model T cars, widely considered the first affordable automobile. As such, he is often quoted in the context of business and entrepreneurship.

However, the quote attributed to him in the Facebook post appears to be apocryphal. The DCNF keyword-searched the Henry Ford Museum’s digital archive for the statement, but found nothing matching it. It doesn’t appear in his autobiography “My Life and Work,” either.

Furthermore, the Henry Ford Museum does not include the saying on its list of more than 200 verified quotations from the automobile manufacturer.

A variation of the expression was first connected to Ford in a 1999 cruise industry publication, though elements of the saying appeared earlier in other contexts, according to the website Quote Investigator. In this instance, the author did not credit Ford directly with the statement.

“There is a problem trying to figure out what people want by canvassing them,” wrote cruise ship designer John McNeece, reported Quote Investigator. “I mean, if Henry Ford canvassed people on whether or not he should build a motor car, they’d probably tell him what they really wanted was a faster horse.”

The earliest attribution to Ford occurred in a 2001 letter sent to British publication Marketing Week, decades after Ford’s death in 1947.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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