Is This the Oldest Ford Model T Still Running?
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If you know your car history, then you’ll know that the Ford Model T is more than a car. It is the machine that turned the automobile from an interesting concept, a status symbol for the ultra-wealthy, into a widely adopted means of transportation for the masses.
It is no exaggeration to say the Model T propelled America into the modern era, prompting massive federal investment into a network of highways and redefining our landscape.
Almost 100 years have passed since the last Model T rolled off the production line in 1927, so you’d be forgiven for assuming they are now confined to history books and automotive museums.
Amazingly, there are still a few Model Ts in working order, lovingly cared for by their owners and protected by classic car insurance. Read on to learn about the oldest Ford Model T that is still running.
The Ford Model T is one of the most famous cars in history.
The oldest Ford Model T still running
It is hard to know for sure, but most classic car enthusiasts agree that the oldest running Ford Model T belongs to Matt Lee, a resident of Plymouth, Michigan.
His Model T was built in 1920, but thanks to Lee’s devotion, it has aged beautifully and remains in full working condition. In fact, Lee still drives the car around his hometown and uses it as a teaching aid in an automobile class at a local community college.
Lee has never touched up the paint or refurbished any part of the wooden frame, so this old Ford is as authentic as it gets.
As a result, you might expect Lee’s Ford to be worth millions, as many classic cars have seen a jump in value.
Surprisingly, as reported by Motor Trend, it is only valued at $10,000. While this marks an increase of almost 1,000% compared to the 1920 purchase price of $975, it does seem extraordinarily low for such a unique and iconic vehicle.
The low valuation probably suits Lee though, as he has no intention to sell, and it will prevent his car from being very expensive to insure.
Motor Trend reports that Lee’s original Model T has a 2.9-liter engine, 2-speed pedal-controlled planetary transmission, 20 horsepower, a 35 mph top speed, and a surprisingly good fuel economy of 20 mpg.
What is it like to drive a Ford Model T?
One lucky writer from Motor Trend’s Automobile Magazine was allowed to take Lee’s car out for a spin, and here’s what he found:
The Model T is started by a hand crank poking out of the front of the car. The engine starts with a satisfying “chuff-chuff-chuff” sound. While it idles, heavy pistons cause the whole car to shake.
Upon climbing into the vehicle, the driver feels the suspension dip. Once the parking brake is released and the driver steps on the left pedal, forward motion commences.
Lifting off the left pedal shifts the Model T from low to high gear. The center pedal is for reversing, and the right pedal slows you down. The throttle, or accelerator, is a hand lever to the right of the steering wheel.
The biggest challenge faced by the driver from Motor Trend was ignoring the muscle memory associated with driving a modern manual car, and trying to hold the left pedal in a neutral position when stopping or reversing.
He points out that stalling a Ford Model T engine is difficult, but not impossible. Low gear is capable of speeds up to 12 mph, at which point the driver must quickly release the left pedal out of low and into neutral, and then slow the release as the high gear catches.
If it sounds difficult, that’s because it is! The ride is loud and uncomfortable, requiring full attention just to drive straight, even at slow speeds.
But that’s not the point is it? This clunky old motor is a sacred relic, a connection to America’s proud automotive history, and long may it continue to run!