Without doubt, Ford has one of the most illustrious pasts of any automaker, if not, of any company, in the modern world, so just imagine the wealth of history the Blue Oval must have locked away in its archives.

Well, Ford has now announced that it is making its archives public and that it will be releasing more than 5,000 images showcasing the lifespan of the company. In fact, Ford claims that it has millions of images locked away in its archives and will continue to upload them in the hope that more than 10,000 images will be online by 2012.

Most of the images need to be purchased and/or licensed, and it turns out dealers are the biggest early purchases of the material. And it’s not just images of cars; the collection also includes portraits and photographs from press releases, events, factories, motorsports and product development, just to name a few.

One of the most popular sellers so far has been a reprint of the ad that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1925. The ad was titled “Opening the Highways to All Mankind” and is pictured in our gallery above.

Click here to visit Ford’s dedicated online image database. Just a warning, you may end up spending hours looking through the collection.