You can almost hear the sound of the roaring 20s as you view the rare 1923 Ford Huckster Model T automotbile on display at the Armed Forces History Museum. The automobile is as much a piece of art as it is a car and is definitely a huge piece of Americana history.
The Ford Model T first went into production in 1908 and was often referred to as the Model T or Tin Lizzie. The Model T is remembered as the first affordable automobile. Contributing to that affordability was Ford’s integration of the assembly line production. The Ford Model T is also attributed with opening up travel to middle class Americans for the first time. The first Model T rolled off the assembly line on August 12, 1908. Less than 20 years later, on May 26, 1927, the 15 millionth Ford Model T came off the assembly line.
Model T Design
Though different from today’s reference, Model Ts were known by their ‘model years’, referring to the year the car was made. This Ford automobile maintained its name ‘Model T’ throughout its 20 year production run despite its many revisions. It had a 177 cubic inch engine which was mounted in the front with all four cylinders located on one block – something that was uncommon at the time of its production. The top speed of the Model T was 40 to 45 mph with fuel economy averaging 16 to 21 miles per gallon. The engine could run on a few different fuels: Gasoline, kerosene and ethanol.
Combustion on the car was ignited by a fly wheel magneto, electrical generator. This magneto was upgraded in 1915 when electric headlights became available. Starting the car required the use of a hand crank which was designed to minimize injury should the engine ‘kick back’. A number of additional steps were required to successfully engage the engine.
The Ford Model T was assembled in three different US plants and nine overseas plants. Prior to the Model T, though many never made it past the prototype phase, were Models A thru S. Depending on the production year, the automobile designs included touring, roadster, pickup, coupe, Coupelet, Town Car, C-cab wagon and sedan.
A number of other features evolved with each new design, such as the electrical start. Front doors were not added until 1911. Up until then, the model had an open body. Major visible changes to the Model T were few but a quite a few smaller changes which assisted with smoother production. Henry Ford’s overseeing the design of the car, keeping reality – such as unpaved streets – in mind is one of the reasons the Model T was successfully built as a rugged, all-terrain vehicle. The Model T was often converted by its owners into a piece of custom farm machinery, with prefab kits eventually being sold by aftermarket companies to assist with a car to tractor conversion.
No doubt, the Ford Model T was well-designed car which served as the catalyst for both future car designs and their manufacturing techniques.