New 1914 Ford Model T
I have newfound respect for Henry Ford and his Model T. You see, since 2003 was Ford Motor Company's 100 birthday, Ford decided to resurrect the production line for Henry's car for the working folks. You heard right! Ford built the Model T again. We got the chance to ride and even drive one of them and I came away very impressed indeed. I expected a bone jarring ride and a Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang sound coming from that ancient 4 cylinder engine with the hand crank and crude ignition system. Instead, I found a car that rode almost as well as a modern compact sedan, and the sound of the engine was more akin to a purr than a pop pop.
No, it's not like the new Thunderbird which is really a modern car with retro styling. This is a genuine 1914 Model T with every nut and bolt faithfully reproduced to the last detail. No catalytic converters here. As you can tell by some of the photos, Ford even faithfully reproduced the 1914 emissions output.
Ford produced the Model T from 1908 through 1927 and sold more than 15 million of them. It was the first car that was affordable for the working class, partly because it was made with mass-produced, interchangeable parts. The T started out at $850 but in later years was sold for as little as $260 due to the savings gained from mass production. These cars were quite reliable and, when they did break, were easy to fix. Mechanically, they hardly changed at all over the 19 years of production.
The new Model T in these photos was patterned after the 1914 Model T Touring. Every part on these new T's are interchangeable with the original Ford from 1914. All the parts were either newly manufactured by Ford from original drawings or available today through antique car parts suppliers.
Driving the Model T is an exercise in forgetting everything you know about driving. For one thing, the throttle is a stalk behind the steering wheel while gear changing is handled by two of the three pedals on the floor. The left pedal allows you to shift between low and high (and also serves as a clutch), the center pedal is reverse and the right pedal is the brake. The headlamps are gas operated and are lit with a match
Before you get all excited, I should tell you that you can't buy one. There are only six cars built with no plans to produce any for sale. The one you see in these pictures is number 5 and is on tour around the United States for Ford's centennial celebration with a second one touring Europe. The other four will be at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan where you will be able to take rides in them. At a future date, Ford plans to donate them to as yet unnamed museums
Click each photo for a larger view