Tag: Period Modifications

A Runabout with Period Modifications in Search of a New Owner at Hershey – David Conwill @Hemmings

A Runabout with Period Modifications in Search of a New Owner at Hershey – David Conwill @Hemmings


“Have you heard the new Fords? They’re much quieter since they took the brass band off the front.”

World War I-era humor aside, a lot of people feel that the best-looking era for the Model T was 1915-’16, when the old brass radiator was joined with a streamlined metal cowl. This created a transitional step from the era when the T was new and coveted to the period when it would simply be too cheap not to own. Those more utilitarian Ts used a stamped-steel radiator cover painted the same black as the rest of the car. It wouldn’t be until 1925 that Ford once again brought some color back to the nose of the Tin Lizzie, adorning some cars with nickel-plated radiator shells from then until the end of production in 1927.

So how do you make a collectible, brass-era T even more coveted? Try accessorizing it with some of the 1920s aftermarket’s greatest hits. This car, seen on a street corner in 1925, would appear to be the property of someone who bought it new and, instead of trading up, just spent the decade making it a better car.

The centerpiece is a Rajo cylinder head, mounted to the original 1915 block— meaning this is a crank-start only car, but a real ’15 for sure. Rajos of various types were produced in Racine, Wisconsin, by ex-racer Joe Jagersberger and still today they have a reputation on par with or ahead of period competitors like Roof and Frontenac. In this case, the Rajo is an F-head, or “intake over exhaust” as they say in motorcycle and British-car circles: The intake valves are overhead and the exhaust valves remain in the block, flathead style, maximizing the real estate available to both.

Equally coveted, as Model T accessories go, are those wire wheels. The sign indicates a certain uncertainty as to their real pedigree: Houk? Maybe Pasco? In any event, they were said to have new rims and spokes, and along with the all-white tires (still factory equipment as late as 1924 on new Fords), make a strong visual statement alongside the brass radiator.

Other upgrades included: aftermarket auxiliary brakes working on the small parking drums (Ford furnished the T with only a transmission brake); a taller 3:1 ring and pinion, in place of the 3.63:1 gears, for higher cruising speeds; and a Ruckstell Axle that added underdrive gearing for quicker starts or climbing hills.

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