Is manufacturing flexibility a purely contemporary phenomenon, an outgrowth of computer-controlled technologies, volatile markets, and sophisticated consumers that did not exist in a previous age of Fordist mass production? Or did mass manufacturers in earlier periods face comparable problems of combining high productivity, low costs, rapid product innovation, and frequent adjustments to shifting demand? And if so, what technological and organizational solutions did they develop in response? Did the flexible manufacturing practices made famous by Japanese firms in the 1970s and 1980s such as just-in-time logistics, collaborative supplier relations, joint product development, quick tooling changes, and mixed-model assembly represent a sharp break with the canonical principles of Western mass production? Or were these innovations anticipated—and even to some extent inspired—by earlier experiments with manufacturing flexibility pioneered by American and European firms during the heyday of mass production itself ? Focusing on the archetypal mass production industry at the height of the Fordist era between the 1920s and the 1970s, the papers in this special issue of Enterprise & Society offer new and surprising answers to these questions.