On this day in auto history - July 6th

Tue 6th Jul 2021

It was on this day in 1906 that John S. Gray – the major investor and inaugural president of Ford Motor Company - died suddenly, paving the way for Henry Ford to assume overall control of the company he had first inspired.

The Scottish-born immigrant first earned his fortune as a candy-maker before bolstering his wealth further by becoming chairman of the influential German American Bank.

Because of his enormous reputation in the banking sector, it was primarily through Gray’s initial $10,500 investment (for a 10.5% share) that the fledgling Ford Motor Company was able to attract the high-level of capitalisation it needed to bankroll the company in 1903.

With Gray elected as the company’s first president and Henry Ford serving as vice-president, Ford Motor Company proved incredibly profitable from the outset, with shareholders receiving an astonishing 300% return on their investment within two years.

After Gray's unexpected death from a heart attack, Henry Ford became president, though Gray’s estate retained control of his highly-lucrative shares until Ford himself purchased them outright in 1919 for $26 million.

When dividends were added, it worked out that Gray’s initial $10,500 investment had yielded an incredible $36.6 million within 16 years.