CC Global: Ford Model T — Pride of Henrik Ford

1 Front

After previous CCs about 50 year old and 60 year old American classics still in regular use in Sweden, it is time to profile a really old American classic spotted on the street in Stockholm:  a Ford Model T.  It is at least 86 years old and could be as old as 105, given the Model T’s production run from 1908 to 1927.  Seeing one parked in front of an office building in downtown Stockholm during morning commute time, surrounded by European and Asian hatchbacks, was surprising to say the least.  Even Stockholm pedestrians, normally so accustomed to classic American cars that they rarely look at them, stopped to gawk at this survivor from their great-grandparents’ time.

2 Side closeup

The presence of a Model T in Sweden is not in itself remarkable, since the Model T was the first internationally produced car, as well as being the first mass-produced and affordable car.  Ford produced knock down kits and distributed them to multiple continents for assembly soon after the start of Model T production in Dearborn.  Foreign production began in Canada in 1909 and in the United Kingdom in 1911.  By the 1920s, countries with Model T assembly plants included Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia, making the Model T the first car to be produced simultaneously on every continent inhabited by humanity.

3 Grille

This particular Model T appears to be an older restoration, and its combination of shiny but chipped paint and light surface rust looks appropriate on a vintage Ford that is driven rather than displayed in a museum.  Perhaps this detailed view of the front end will enable a Model T expert to identify what model years this car could be from, assuming that its major components are original.

The hand crank for the starter is a reminder that driving a Model T is a complicated experience for anyone accustomed to modern cars, and this video gives some idea of how complicated it is.  It begins with the need to start the engine using the hand crank and continues with a control layout completely unlike that of a modern car.  Three pedals (clutch/reverse/brake) and three hand levers (accelerator on the steering column, spark advance on the wheel, and a handbrake/gear selector floor-mounted lever) require the driver to forget familiar instincts and think constantly about each hand and foot action necessary to start moving, accelerate, and stop.  Furthermore, even though a Model T is a slow car by modern standards, the minimal effectiveness of the rear wheel only brakes makes stopping precarious.  One has to respect the attention and effort required to drive this Model T through modern urban traffic.

5 Door

This closeup shows what is likely to be part of the reason why this Model T is still driven and parked on the street.  Like many classic and exotic cars in Sweden, it is used as an advertising billboard, in this instance for a brand of sparkling wine.  Cars seen used for this purpose in Stockholm included 1960’s Volkswagen Beetles, a Citroen DS, a Lotus Elise, and even a Lamborghini Gallardo.  Given the Model T’s apparent ability to attract the eyes of even classic car-saturated Swedes, it is a good choice for the role.

4 Side closeup

After never seeing a Model T driven normally on a public street in my entire life back in the United States (parades and antique car events excluded), seeing one parked on the street in Sweden was surprising but somehow not really shocking.  As the most numerous car in history until surpassed by the Volkswagen Beetle in 1972, the Model T has survivors around the world that could appear at any time, and the abundance of American classics on the streets of Sweden makes almost any car sighting imaginable there.  The appearance of this Model T on an ordinary street in Stockholm is yet more evidence that Sweden is a unique haven for classic American cars.