The first Ford to arrive in South Africa was a 1903 Ford Model A, which was
imported by Mr Arthur Youldon of Johannesburg.
In September 1903 Mr Youldon, an importer, was in New York where he saw
Henry Ford demonstrate his new car. He immediately placed his order with
Henry Ford, who informed him that it would be the first Ford to be sold
outside North America. The Ford Motor Company was founded earlier that
year, on 16 June 1903.
The car only arrived in February 1904 in Port Elizabeth from where it had to
be transported by train to Johannesburg. This car survived to this day and
can be viewed at the Heidelberg Transport Museum near Johannesburg.
The first two Ford agents in South Africa are believed to be Arkell & Douglas
of Port Elizabeth and Georges Chapart of Durban. Mr Chapard, a Frenchman,
travelled throughout Natal and later also the Orange Free State, selling the
popular Ford Model N, the predecessor of the Model T.
Other early Ford dealers followed such as Mr H.G. Holmes of Kimberley who
later moved to Cape Town and Atkinson's Motor Garages of Bloemfontein,
which much later were incorporated in the McCarthy Group of companies.
During July 1923 Mr Holmes and Mr H.F.A. Stockelbach visited the Ford
factory in Canada to investigate the possibility of starting an assembly plant
in South Africa. Due to preferential tax and duty applicable to Commonwealth
Countries, it was advantages to source the kits from the Canadian Ford factory
rather than the USA.
This was realised in February 1924, when an old wool packing shed in Port
Elizabeth was used to start to assemble the Ford Model Ts.