Cohort Outtake: Ford Model T – In Praise of Driving a Hundred Year Old Car

Neither robader (who posted these shots at the Cohort) nor I seem to be able to pin down the exact year of this Ford Model T, but we can be sure it’s now over 100 years old. And these T’s can still be readily repaired and overhauled; everything for them is still available. I doubt our grand kids will be saying the same thing about a 2010 Camry in 2110.

This T was built by one of Ford’s many foreign subsidiaries, The Ford Motor Co. of Canada. Needless to say, I’m not going to delve into the Model T story in any depth here; you all know it.

I am always fascinated in Ford’s early years. Just the other day, I found myself perusing the 1903 Ford brochure (oldcarbrochures has an excellent collection of early Ford brochures) and admiring his genius for building a car that was just inherently right, and better in just about every way than the competition. Ford’s cars from the very beginning were always relatively powerful and light. The Model T had superb performance in its early years, thanks to its 1200lb weight and 20 hp.

And almost from the beginning, Ford saw the possibilities of the benefits of scale. No, he couldn’t possibly have imagined the scale he would eventually achieve with T. But very early on, Ford was proclaiming in his brochures that by committing to an annual production of 25,000 cars, he could buy parts in volume and spread his overhead of a large base. And gratuitously saying that if they didn’t all sell, Ford would take the resulting loss. No worries on that account; Ford struggled to meet demand for some two decades before the T finally hit the wall.

Now that’s a hub cap.

And genuine wood.

And a genuine brass lamp, along with a brass radiator out front.

And a few other brass parts, like that wonderful squeeze-bulb horn. This is a car for the really long haul.