The quintessential American car brand, Ford has a proud and unparalleled history -- and today, maybe the most promising future among homegrown automotive marques in the U.S. Famously founded by Henry Ford in 1903, the company introduced the Model T -- which came to be known as the "Tin Lizzie" -- in 1908 and then pioneered mass production. Ford emerged strong from the post-World War II rationalization of the industry. In 1964, it put a signature on the "muscle" era by introducing the Mustang. Ford struggled with import competition but then took the auto world by storm with the 1986 introduction of the jelly-bean-shaped Ford Taurus sedan, which became the best-selling vehicle in the land for more than a decade. Lately, Ford's most popular vehicle by far has been its F-150 truck series, which has dominated the company's identity and helped offset a series of unremarkable Ford cars. Most recently, Ford has stood out among the old domestic Big Three in harnessing hybrid technology and, with Sync, regarding in-vehicle communications. Now, new models including Fusion and Flex have given Ford renewed leadership in design, quality and fuel economy. Its refusal of a federal bailout in 2009, in contrast with General Motors and Chrysler, has increasingly endeared Ford again to American consumers.