Travel Back In Blue Oval History With 5,000-Image Online Archive

Whether you are a car scribe working on a story or just a fan of automobiles, you might have found yourself in a frustrating internet search spiral seeking an old image of a classic ride. If you are a Ford fan, the company is making it easier to find those historic images and information by cracking open its archive and offering a treasure trove of archival materials online on the Ford Heritage Vault website.

These assets were born analog, and we have worked hard to bring them to the digital world. -Ciera Casteel, Ford Motor Company

“We’re opening up in a way we’ve never done before,” said Ted Ryan, Ford archive and heritage brand manager. “Our archives were established 70 years ago, and for the first time, we’re opening the vault for the public to see. This is just a first step for all that will come in the future.”

Ford recently launched its Heritage Vault, a publicly accessible online archive featuring more than 5,000 images of Ford vehicles from 1903 to 2003. (Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company)

The company celebrated its 100th anniversary 19 years ago and established its archive some 70 years ago. As such, the Ford Heritage Vault provides a curated look at Ford and Lincoln vehicles from the company’s beginning in 1903 to its centennial in 2003.

However, the company isn’t just posting historic images, this archival website will include digital replicas of classic vehicle brochures, which capture moments in time. For example, one set of brochures provides a look back at the ’70s and ’80s. The colors and imagery within these marketing materials showed how the company tried to reach out to the youth of the time.

“Complementing all of the vehicle photos available in the Ford Heritage Vault, brochures like these add so much more information and impact for people who want to learn about our products, heritage, and accessories,” said Ciera Casteel, processing archivist, who prepared materials for the Heritage Vault.

To bring its archives to the public, the company worked with employees, retirees, and graduate students from Wayne State University’s library and information science program in Detroit to test the online archive before its launch, including accessibility for blind and visually impaired visitors.

Ford opened up its 70-year-old archive and curated more than 5,000 images and brochures that are now accessible to anyone online.

“These assets were born analog, and we have worked hard to bring them to the digital world,” Casteel, who spearheaded the Ford Heritage Vault effort, added. “But digitizing isn’t enough. It was important to us that the Heritage Vault is accessible for everyone to enjoy.”

To take a trip back into Blue Oval history, check out the Ford Heritage Vault right here.


In addition to vehicle photos, the Ford Heritage Vault offers digital versions of classic vehicle brochures that can also be downloaded.

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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