Perhaps more than any other vehicle, the Ford Model T’s ubiquity and versatility meant that its owners put it to a wide variety of uses. For collectors, that means it’s still entirely possible to either restore one to the exact same specifications as a million other restored Model Ts out there or, alternatively, to find some historically accurate way to stand out from those million other restored Model Ts.
The seller of this 1914 Ford Model T listed on Hemmings.com chose the latter by re-creating one of the first motorized ambulances employed by the hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. We’re sure there’s a story behind that very specific decision, and we can also appreciate the research that went into the ambulances and the effort that went into applying that research to a Model T that, based on the photos alone, would likely do well in points judging at an MTFCA gathering. From the seller’s description:
This 1914 Model T-Touring was built as a historically accurate replica of the two ambulances used by Yale New Haven Hospital in 1914. It has the original 1914 frame, period-correct headlights, cowl lights, tail lights and running boards. The fenders are from a 1915 T. The car was painted around 2016 and shows in great condition. Since restoration, it has always been kept in climate controlled storage. Under the hood is the later 2.9L inline 4-cylinder engine equipped with a 6 volt generator and electric starter. Making roughly 20HP this is a great touring car and runs like a sewing machine.
The Ford Model T was in production from 1908 to 1927, it mobilised the US middle class and is today the car credited with putting America on wheels. Over 16 million were produced in nearly two decades and with many Model T parts either re-manufactured or available second-hand, the Model T is probably one of the easiest veteran/vintage cars to own and drive in the 21st century.
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An older post from a while back, but it’s just a cool car so…
During twenty years of production (1908-1928) the Ford Motor Company produced a lump of 16.6 million Model T motor cars. A staggering number that still affords the Model T a place on the listings for most produced automobiles of all time. Ford built them quickly and cheaply to get Americans out on the road. Fast forward another twenty years, and you will find the popularity of the Model T is still lofty. Although America had long-since gained her license to drive and laid the pavement to do so, the soldiers returning home from the second world war discovered a reinvigorated passion for automobile modification and the Model T was the perfect starting point. With a surplus of spending money and spare parts from the mass-produced Model T inexpensive, ideas for enhancements to the platform took root and formed the foundation of hotrodding
Today on our auction block is a starling showcase of how early hotrodding and racing merged. The 1922 Ford Model T we have was initially built together and completed in 1948 by Tommy Garland of Buellton, California. Transformed from a coupe into a roadster the Model T was shaved of weight and heavily modified for dirt track racing, which it heavily competed in during the six years after its birth. Driving at tracks such as Old Ascot, Thunderbowl, Bakersfield, Porterville, and Lompoc, the Model T saw success. Still sporting its authentic 1950s blue livery complete with hand-painted numbers, sponsors, and the driver tag Chuck Hulse, who piloted this craft a decade before his years racing in the USAC Championship Car series this fast Ford is a time capsule.
Unfortunately, by the mid-1950s the roadster was ready for retirement. Placed into storage for thirty years the roadster was eventually put into a museum collection until 2016. RM Sotheby’s sold the car to the current seller who immediately turned it over to renown hotrod restoration expert Jimmy Shine. One hundred hours were put into the repairs and rehabilitation work that reinvigorated the mechanical components and discreetly added some engineering improvements. Under Shines watchful eye the brakes were restored, and the shock absorbers were also rebuilt. A few significant welds were refinished then aged to match the current state of patina. However, there are still several small areas of rust. Included with the sale are the original red painted wheels with dirt track tires from the 1950s plus the current gold painted mesh wire wheels that have new dirt track tires installed
Last night, I decided I can’t continue with my Model T project. It’s a tough decision. I’ve wanted a Model T touring car since I was about eight years old (that’s 30 summers now) and I’ve now owned two different touring car bodies and a complete car. I’ve tried really, really hard to make a Model T happen, but it never seems to work out.
Nevertheless, I’m an adult and not independently wealthy. It’s tough enough to have three kids, a house, and two cars for transportation. A purely “fun” car is great but it would be an irresponsible avenue to continue pursuing–I’ll live off ramen to fund a project, but I won’t ask my family to do that. We have more practical needs to look after first. In fact, I’ll be putting my Model T and parts up for sale soon and putting that money into the home-improvement fund
This doesn’t mean I’m done with old cars, though. Far from it. It just means that I’ve got to rethink my driver situation. Our current fleet consists of a 2008 Dodge Charger police car and a 1983 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. The Charger we’ve had for five years, and while it’s fun to drive, it has an increasing number of electrical maladies and has been spending a lot of time in the shop. Once it’s fixed, it can find a new home with someone who enjoys working on late-model Mopars.
The Cadillac we got just last week. It is very cool but I can’t see us keeping it—it’s too nice. That sounds weird, but the biggest problem with the Cadillac is that it was purchased new by my wife’s grandfather the same year she was born. A car with that level of sentimental value is something of a white elephant in and of itself. It only has 23,000 miles on it and it’s a perfectly preserved cream puff. Putting wear and tear on it would be heartbreaking, and fixing all the luxury features as they age would be an utter nightmare. Instead, I intend to polish it up (I’ve been spending a lot of time researching paint care), tune it up, and try to find it a good home before the end of the summer.
How to Drive a Ford Model T in Plain English (Summary)
For the visual learners out there, the following video shows you what to do. If you learn better by reading, the “how to” section is below the video.
With the car on level ground and the engine off, climb up behind the wheel. Notice the hand lever on the floor to your left, the two levers on the steering column beneath the steering wheel, and the three pedals on the floor.
Let’s start with the hand lever. All the way back it sets the rear wheel parking/emergency brakes and puts the transmission in neutral. Half-way released it maintains neutral, and fully released it engages the planetary transmission in high gear. Feel it a few times, notice that it holds the left pedal in neutral mid-position, then release it, and notice that the left pedal is all the way up.
Next, the lever to the left beneath the steering wheel is the spark adjust advance/retard from before top dead center ignition to after top dead center. To retard the spark it is moved up, to advance the spark it is moved down. The Model T is always started in the retard position, as it was designed to be started by hand cranking. Unless it is retarded the engine can and will KICK BACK and do damage to hands, wrists and arms. NEVER crank it except in the retard position. After the engine is running, the lever can be moved down to advance the ignition until the engine chuckles smoothly, and when rolling to get the best performance.
The lever to the right is the throttle lever, there is no foot pedal like a modern car. Up is idle speed, down is as fast as it will go. Maximum performance in a Model T is like with a mule, with both ears laid back.
Next, the foot pedals on the floorboard – The left foot pedal changes your forward gear ratios, up is high, down is low. The Model T has just those two forward ratios, high gear and low gear. Midway between high and low is the neutral “out of gear” position of the left pedal.
To engage first gear, let the handbrake lever off and push the pedal all the way down until it becomes HARD. Pull the handbrake up and feel how the lever holds neutral position on the gear pedal.
The center pedal is for reverse gear engagement, but either the hand lever or the left pedal must be in neutral position before engagement, or the engine will stall. All the way down HARD is reverse position.
The right pedal is the brake. It engages a band around a braking drum in the transmission, operating in the engine oil bath. Therefore, to avoid burning off the oil due to friction heat, and wearing out the band quickly, apply the brake in relatively short duration thrusts to allow the oil to wash and continue lubricating and cooling it.
Note: The Ford Model T only applies braking to the rear wheels.
Braking by right pedal is via the driveline to the rear wheels only, does not actuate the rear drum brakes, and can cause dangerous skids in slick road conditions, as the differential will allow one wheel to spin forward and the other backward. Therefore, in slick conditions, use the hand lever to apply braking to the rear drum brakes.
Get the feel of the controls, they will become familiar quickly
1. Raise the right side of the engine hood and check that the engine oil level is adequate, within the limits prescribed. This is done by opening the lower petcock at the rear of the engine. If it does not flow, close the lower petcock, open the upper petcock and add oil until oil flows from the upper petcock. Close the upper petcock, lower and latch the hood.
2. Remove the radiator cap and top off the radiator with fresh water and/or antifreeze solution in freezing weather. A 30-40% methanol (wood alcohol)/ water solution may be used, but a 50% ethylene glycol/water solution is recommended for all seasons.
Please observe that the hand crank is located in the center of the car below the radiator. To crank the engine, one must stand in the path the car will take if the engine starts while in gear. The car is NOT OUT OF GEAR UNLESS the Emergency brake/neutral lever is all the way back and the rear brakes set. This must be done FIRST, or you will get run over by your own car should the engine start, MOST EMBARRASSING!
NEXT, move the spark advance/retard lever all the way up to retard position. Move the throttle lever down approximately ? of the quadrant.
Observe that the Magneto/OFF/Battery Switch (or key) on the coil box or dash panel is in the OFF position. The Model T may be started in either Magneto or Battery position, usually in Battery position unless the battery has lost charge.
Observe the wire ring at the lower left corner of the radiator as you face the car. This is the pull wire of the hand choke. PULL IT OUT.
With the switch (or key) OFF, push the crank in and crank the engine over one or two turns, finishing by coming up against compression and just past.
Turn the Magneto/OFF/Battery switch to Battery. The coils will buzz, and sometimes the engine will start without further cranking, especially if warm. If it doesn’t, the engine must be cranked through one more cycle of intake/compression. Do this carefully with your LEFT hand, pulling up ONLY by ratcheting the crank as necessary. Do not grip the crank handle but cup it in the palm of the hand with the thumb on the same side of the handle as the fingers. As the cylinder begins to come up on compression, ratchet the crank down to the bottom. Now pull up swiftly, and the engine will start. If not, repeat the process.
NEVER start the car with your right hand. If the engine were to misfire or kick back, you would likely suffer a broken wrist and/or arm. The right hand may be used for priming the engine, as you need your left hand free to operate the choke, but when ever the ignition switch is ON, you MUST use your left hand. again, do not grip the crank handle but cup it in the palm of the hand with the thumb on the same side of the handle as the fingers.
In cold weather the choke may need to be left out until the engine warms. It may be released (or set) from the driver’s seat by pushing down the choke/carburetor adjust knob to the right side of the dash panel.
Speed up the engine with the throttle lever, advance the ignition with the advance/retard lever about half-way, then return the engine speed to an idle. It will now chuckle over smoothly at about 400 rpm.
These days, we’ve become accustomed to track noses as just another option in the sea of hot rod aftermarket items. Sporty, yes, but all too often backed up by an otherwise standard street rod. However, the track nose on this 1927 Ford Model T-based street rod for sale on Hemmings.com is entirely fitting, given that the builder of the car chose to power it with a real-deal Drake Offenhauser dual overhead-camshaft four-cylinder. Once the hood is up, not even the screaming yellow zonkers paint can divert focus away from that jewel of a racing engine, and we’re sure there’s a story about how the engine came to power this car, along with many stories of frightened and delighted passengers who went for a ride thinking it was just a regular ol’ 1-800-street-rod. From the seller’s description
includes: A 255 cu in Drake Offenhauser engine with original magneto and water plumbing system, Dual two barrel Mikuni carburetors, Dry sump oil system, Custom built tube headers and exhaust system, Steel tube chassis, Ford automatic transmission, Ford 9 inch rear end with three link rear suspension with coil over shocks, Front drop chrome axle, Ansen type five spoke wheels CNC profile cut for original machine finish, Wilwood front disk brakes with chassis mounted master cylinder and bias valve, Custom radiator with electric cooling fan, Rear mounted battery with under seat disconnect, Hand fabricated upholstery and carpets, Fiberglass body with aluminum hood, radiator nose and louvered side panels. Car is currently licensed and insured and ready to drive