Ten Things You Should Know About the Model T
By James Grahame
As part of our celebration of the Ford Centennial Model T Party in Richmond, Indiana, here are ten things you might not know about this classic:
1. Although Henry Ford is famously quoted as saying "You can have any color you want, as long as it is black," the 1908 Model T touring car was painted red and the roadster was pearl grey.
2. Black became the only paint color in 1914, following the introduction of Ford's moving production line. Not only did a single color simplify the manufacturing process, black paint was also the fastest drying. Ford historian Robert Kreipke explains that this made quite a difference, "With numerous coats applied, the bodies could be finished in one-tenth the time." Color returned in 1926 with the addition of maroon and green on certain models.
3. Only 308 Model T's were produced in 1908. The Model T's top production year was 1923 with 2,011,125 cars manufactured worldwide. That year, the Ford Motor Company made a profit of roughly $37 on each car sold.
4. Electric start was available in 1919. Prior to that, owners had to hand-crank their vehicles. It was a sometimes dangerous process, especially if you forgot to apply the parking brake beforehand. The 1919 Model T's also saw the arrival of a full electrical system that included a generator, battery and electric headlights and taillights. There was no iPod dock.
5. The Model T has no stick shift or accelerator pedal. The throttle lever is mounted on the right side of the steering wheel shaft. To add to the confusion, there are three pedals. The leftmost allows you to shift between low, neutral and high gears, the middle pedal shifts between forward and reverse and the rightmost is the brake. These quirks ensure that your Model T is unlikely to be stolen, even if you leave the key in the ignition.
6. The Model T was produced for seven years before the introduction of electric headlights in 1915. It is still legal to drive with the original oil lamps, since motor vehicle regulations simply require your car to meet the safety regulations in force when it left the factory.
7. The popularity of the Model T helped to standardize the placement of the steering wheel on the left throughout much of the world. That said, Model T's produced in Great Britain had their steering wheels on the right.
8. The fuel tank is located under the front seat, making it slightly cumbersome to check the fuel level. The fuel system is gravity-fed, requiring drivers to reverse up particularly steep hills to ensure constant fuel flow to the engine.
9. The original Model T got up to 21 miles per gallon (mpg). One hundred years later, the average passenger car in America still only gets 23 mpg.
production ceased on May 25, 1927 the plants simply shut down. It is estimated that over 30,000 of the original 15 million Model T's still exist. Unbelievably, there was no replacement waiting in the wings; the
subsequent Model A didn't start rolling off the assembly line until