The New Automobile
The Ford Model “T” was one of the most widely used vehicles the world has known. What made the “T” popular was not so much it’s performance, which was not spectacular, but it’s reliability, ruggedness, low cost and ease of maintenance and repair. The "T" was durable, and could take a lot of punishment and neglect.
The design was extremely simple. The solid front and rear axles were live, each set on a single transverse leaf spring. The engine was a 177 cubic inch four-cylinder side-valve engine developing 20 to 22 bhp at 1600rpm. It had a two-speed forward and reverse planetary transmission operated with pedal actuated bands rather than a clutch and sliding gear transmission -- for easier driving than using the conventional clutch and stick operated sliding-gears, no gears to crash. There were no water pumps, oil pumps, starters or generators to fail. The engine was hand cranked to start. There were no ordinary brakes, as such, instead there was a contracting band on a drum in the transmission. There were hand-lever operated emergency mechanical brakes on the rear wheels, which were rather inadequate except for parking, the problem being that the operation of the hand-lever placed the transmission in neutral, thereby eliminating engine braking. However, with the lever pulled back, the reverse pedal band could be slipped to achieve a measure of engine braking. "Rocky Mountain" rear wheel brake assemblies by other manufacturers for better braking were a popular add-on.
Its success came also from the ease with which it could be adapted into a large number of different roles. The Model T came in five body styles, five-passenger Touring, two-passenger Runabout, seven-passenger Town Car, seven-passenger Landaulet and two-passenger Coupe. Depot hacks, light vans and pickups, ambulances, patrol cars and paddy wagons, and the railroad section maintenance cars running on the tracks, were all custom fabricated on the basic chassis and cowling. The variant shown here is a 1914 Depot Hack.
During World War I, before the entry of the United States into the war, some charitable organizations offered Model “T” ambulances to the Allied forces. The standard Ford Model “T” basic chassis and cowling was provided, but without any bodywork beyond the cowl. Legend has it that the first ten ambulance bodies were made out of the wood of the transport cases! Later bodies were produced by the Kellner Carriage Works of Boulogne, France. The ambulance could carry three patients in litters or four patients seated, and two more could always sit up front with the driver. Some 27,000 ambulances were built and used during the war.
The Model T proved to be an excellent vehicle for its time, affordable by the ordinary citizen. It’s light weight of about 1200 pounds made it well-suited for use on the muddy and rough roads of the nation and the world, paved roads being unknown except within towns. If it got stuck in a hole or mud, a small group or a span of mules could haul it out without much ado.
Media and Celebrity Connections
- Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy often drove a Model T in their comedy films.
- The character of Lizzie in the children's Disney film Cars was a black 1923 Model T doctor's coupé. Her name is also inspired by the nickname of this vehicle, Tin Lizzie.
- A 1917 Model T called Gabriel, bearing the number plate 'T 42', appears as Father Unwin's car in Gerry Anderson's half-live action, half-puppet TV show The Secret Service.
|Ford of Britain vehicles|
|Classic production cars||1900s||Model T|
|1930s-1940s||Model B • Model Y • Model 48 • Model 91 • Model C Ten • Model 7W • Model 7Y • Prefect • Anglia • Pilot|
|1950s||Consul • Popular • Squire • Zephyr|
|1960s||Capri • Corsair • Classic • Cortina • Escort • GT40|
|1980s||Orion • RS200 • Sierra • Sierra RS Cosworth|
| Classic commercial vehicles
||A-Series • Model AA • Model BB • Model TT • Cargo • D-Series • E83W • R-Series • Thames 300E • Thames 307E • Thames 400E • Thames 7V • Thames ET • Transcontinental • Transit • Trader|