Model T Museum

Seeing the Model N car, I got to thinking about what predated the Ford Model T. Why T? What happened to A through S?

I read on. Model N, Model R, and Model S preceded the Model T, which debuted in 1908 with the 1909 model.

I mentally refined my question. What happened to Model A through M and Model O through Q? (I suppose no one would want to buy a car named Model Q. On second thought, such a car model might be popular these days with Star Trek fans.)

I was left wondering.

The 1909 Model N was kind of neat—a little race-about-town car with a small trunk (or cubby hole as the museum guy called it) that Ford’s wife drove.

Then there was the 1909 Model T Touring. The car at the museum is one of the earliest Model Ts still in existence. With two-pedals/two-levers, it was one of the first 500 (serial number 337) to be manufactured. After the 500th, the car model was changed to have three-pedals/one-lever.

The museum boasts a white replica of the 1909 Model T Racer, a two-seater open to the elements. This model was used in the 1909 transcontinental race from NYC to Seattle. A gigantic photo above the car shows Ford standing next to the goggled drivers, who were muddied and tired looking but the winners of the race.

The race arguably allowed Ford to standout in the ultra-crowded field of car manufacturers in the early 20th century. Unfortunately, several weeks after the race, the racers and Ford were stripped of the title; it was discovered that they had actually replaced the engine during the race.

The transcontinental race was re-run in 2009. As I peered at photos showing the driver slogging through a downpour, my excitement about the two-seater open to the elements waned a bit.

The museum also showcases a 1914 Model T Touring, one of the first models produced on an assembly line. Contrary to popular belief, Model Ts were available in a variety of colors; it was only for a few years immediately after instituting the assembly line that Model Ts were only available in black.

The museum displays several other early Fords.

A 1918 Fordson tractor proves that Ford didn’t just make sedans.

A 1922 Model T Snowmobile made out of wooden crates and used to deliver mail is equipped with wooden skis by the front wheels and chains on dual rear wheels. (The snowmobile is reported to be haunted.)

A 1923 Model T has a sole door on the center of the body. Another 1923 Model T is an English version with the steering wheel on the right; this particular car in the museum graced the silver screen in Chariots of Fire.

A green 1924 Model T served as an ambulance.

A 1925 yellow taxi was renovated from the wooden frame up.

Likewise, a 1925 Ford TT Fire Engine was lovingly restored.

Later models, like the 1926 Model T Touring, 1927 Ford Dump Truck, and the 1927 Ford Coupe all have wooden spokes. The only thing Ford about the dump truck is the body; the aftermarket cab and dump body were manufactured by Smith-A-Truck Company—an example of Ford selling their chassis to other companies to develop their own vehicles.

And then for something completely different: the Pietenpol Sky Scout, which used the 1931 Model T engine. Interestingly, the plane at the Richmond museum is mentioned in the Wikipedia article on Pietenpol Sky Scout.

For you car—and especially Ford and even more especially Model T—fan-boys and girls, the Model T Museum in Richmond is an interesting stop. A car or two are on loan but many seem to be in their permanent collection.

1906 Ford Model N
1909 Model T Touring
1909 Model T Racer
1911 Model T
1914 Model T Touring
1918 Fordson Tractor
1922 Model T Snowmobile
1923 Model T Town Car
1924 Model T Ambulance
1925 Taxi
1925 Ford TT Fire Engine
1926 Model T Touring
1927 Ford TT Dump Truck
1927 Ford Coupe
1931 Pietenpol Sky Scout

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