The Ford Model T, also known as the Tin Lizzie, is recognised as the most influential car of the 20th century. Produced by Ford Motor Company from 1908 to 1927, the Ford Model T provided inexpensive transport to the masses and sold an incredible 16.5 million units, enough for 8th on the top-ten list of most cars sold.
We're lucky enough to house one of these fascinating models, produced in 1912, at our Old Trafford dealership, near to Trafford Park where some 480,000 Model Ts were produced 100 years ago. This particular example had its body renewed in 1920, and the bonnet/radiator were replaced shortly after World War 2, following bomb damage to the dealership.
To ensure our Ford Model T is well maintained, enthusiast Alan Ward has looked after it for 30 years, having fallen in love when he first drove it in 1987. We asked Alan a few questions to get to know a little more about the car and what it's like to be connected with such an important historical artefact.
"A Motorcar for the Great Multitude"
Alan tells us all about how to drive the Model T and describes how it usually has to have its back wheel jacked up to start up in the morning. However, that doesn't stop him feeling as though every ride in this magnificent car is simply like driving a piece of history and its character blows him away every time.
The Model T was made to be affordable for those less well-off who were in need of transport during the 20th century. Farmers, doctors and schoolmasters would be behind the wheel, meaning the only comparison they had was horse and trap (carriage).
When taking the Model T out for a run, all Alan needs to do is pull the choke and press the starter button, which is hidden under the floor-board, and off she goes. With a compression of only 4-to-1, the 2896cc, four-cylinder engine is forgiving and torquey, which explains why it only has two forward gears.
The Comparison to Daily Driving
The only part of the car's controls that would be familiar to a modern-day driver is the steering wheel. There are three foot-pedals in the Model T, but they activate the two forward gears, reverse and brake - unlike today's manual cars which have a clutch, brake and accelerator.
Engine speed is managed by a lever on the steering column, whilst another lever controls the mysterious advance or delay of the ignition timing and the foot-brake works on a band in the gearbox. Incredibly, there are no brakes on the front wheels, meaning driving needs more concentration to avoid road hazards.
Depending on condition, this wonderful piece of history was worth a whopping £25,000 in around 1910, which was then halved ten years later and today, the Model T is worth a few thousand pounds.
Replacement parts are generally in good supply through the worldwide network of enthusiasts and the UK Model T Register. Alan is knowledgeable in the maintenance of the Model T, but a few years ago a half shaft broke, which he explains was 'a nightmare' as there were no brakes, but thankfully a new one was sent to them in the post.
The Evans Halshaw Model T Story
The car was taken in part-exchange in 1927 and has remained at the Old Trafford dealership ever since.
The Model T has also been used as an apprentice training vehicle and has been the wedding car to a member of the Quicks family (previous owners of Evans Halshaw) and finally attended pioneering heart-transplant patient Jim Quicks' funeral in 2000.
In the last few years, Alan has regularly completed the Manchester to Blackpool run in the Model T, but the 160-mile round trip is now probably a challenge too far. Although, the historic example has featured in the Classic Car show in Manchester and for over 20 years has also taken Father Christmas to the local Lymm (Cheshire) Christmas parade. The Model T remains displayed at the Ford Old Trafford Dealership.
Although Alan may have a long-lasting love for the Model T, he also really likes the look and spec of the Ford EcoSport. With advanced engineering in the same spirit as the Model T, which used light and strong vanadium steel for the chassis, it is very similar to the 106-year-old car. He's also a fan of the beautiful Mustang V8.Ford Old Trafford