“I will build a motor car for the great multitude”
The words of Henry Ford, of which he was true to with the Ford Model T (1908 – 1927) affectionately known as the ‘Tin Lizzie’. Now everyone could own a car, not just the wealthy, thanks to Ford’s application of the moving assembly line and lowering product cost and profit margins in exchange for increased sales volume.
Ford had managed to cut chassis production time from over 12 hours to 1.5 hours in the beginning, and by 1927, Ford was producing an automobile every 24 seconds, now that’s productivity!
The Model T was an affordable machine that changed the world. In 1909, for $825 you could buy a reliable car that was easy to drive.
Ford sold over 10,000 in the first year. This was a record for any automobile model.
By 1925 prices of the Model T were just $300 per vehicle but the car was almost antiquated by this time and production stopped in 1927. In 1999 a panel of 133 motoring journalists and experts voted the Ford Model T ‘Car of the Century’ narrowing down a list of 700 cars to 1.
|Years Produced||1908 - 1927|
|Performance||0 - 60mph N/A sec / Top Speed - 45mph|
|Power & Torque||22bhp / 83Ib ft|
|Engine||2896cc / four cylinder / 8 valves|
|Drive-train||front engine RWD|
|Transmission||Two speed manual|
A BUYERS GUIDE
The Ford Model T can feel like a daunting experience to today’s driver, but the reality is that in its heyday it was probably the simplest car to own and drive. There are three evolutions of the Model T in its production life, although plenty of variants but we will stick to the basics in this buyers guide.
1st evolution is the Brass cars built between 1908 and 1916; these hold the highest value being the earliest built.
The Steel cars built between 1917 and 1925 were the Ford Model T’s, painted all black as per the alleged phrase “you can buy one in any colour as long as its black”.
The last evolution was the improved car with balloon tyres and upgraded brakes. It takes time and patience to learn to drive a Model T so bear this in mind before you buy one.
Under the bonnet
If there is any rust on the body of the car then beware, as there could be wood rot underneath, with these cars having wooden frames over pressed steel.
Early models have leather seats but later ones are leatherette in the roadsters and cloth in the hard tops. Engines should start well when hand cranked, some will have self starters as a retro fit. You should always make sure the car has plenty of history with it, as a car of this age could have been through anything in its life time.
Radiators were round tube but many Model T’s will have had a more efficient flat tube replacement by now. Safety glass should replace original front windscreens, and bear in mind the brakes take a long time to stop you!
Wheels are of the wood spoke variety, with late cars treated to wire ones (cruising speed is around 30 mph but will do 40 plus at a push). The Ford Model T is not a driver’s car by any means but it is a classic icon of motoring history.
Between 1913 and 1927, Ford factories produced more than 15 million Model Ts.
Mark Wilkinson (Managing Partner of Heritage Classic Car Insurance) says
“Henry Ford’s idea of producing a car for everyone was way ahead of its time and the Ford Model T was the perfect vessel to fulfil this vision. Simple, practical and inexpensive the Ford Model T is the classic example of efficiency and innovation.”