model t waterfall-2

At we interview hundreds of old car owners every year, and to a person, they are incredibly dedicated to their vehicles.

‘Then there are Model T owners. “T” owners represent the best of the hobby, because they are typically the most grounded, practical and unpretentious people in the old car hobby.’

Their cars are nearly 100 years old but these guys still want to drive them-no matter what the season and that makes them unique in the collector car world.

You just won’t find a Hemicuda owner willing to take his car out on a regular jaunt in January but in T world this is pretty standard stuff.

 T guys do this routinely and with pride in full bore winter weather.

Bill Harper is a typical winter Model T driver because while he respects the age of the car, the real fun is found in keeping his cars running all year round.

He begins with the obvious-starting the car: “the first hurdle is getting poor ol’ Lizzie started. I keep my cars in good tune and have the clutch and the parking brakes correctly adjusted. I will not claim that the cars readily spring to life, they do need a bit of extra coaxing, but I have not had to jack up a rear wheel. I do chock both front wheels and use 5W-30 oil. I have started the 1914 touring (stem winder) in temps down to 10 above zero (F) and the 1924 coupe in 4 above”.

Bill is realistic about when he actually drives these old legends “I don’t take them out during a storm (don’t need someone sliding into me) nor when the roads are white with ‘salt’.”– good, sound advice given the scary cell phone equipped, idiot driver factor on today’s roads.

That salt issue is worth noting as well– you can live with a Volkswagen taking a salty hit but these old timers deserve more respect.

Bill’s cars don’t come with any kind of modern climate control but T owners improvise because… they’re T owners. If they wanted modern comfort they’d own a new Lexus. Bill, again, in typical T owner style, solved the heat issues this way: “I have no heater in the coupe yet (just this summer I acquired a manifold heater, there is a hole in the firewall- something was there previously) but removing the top floor board and folding back the carpet does let some engine heat into the cabin. After a while it is not too bad inside.

You can unfasten your coat but keep on the hat and gloves. You must be mindful of your exhalations, lest they collect on the glass, frost up and then you must scrape inside the car! Pulling down the quarter window to hand signal lets out whatever heat you might have built up.

As to the touring car; you really must bundle up. A real challenge is warm footwear that will still allow you to deftly manipulate the pedals. I do remove the steel dash plate to allow engine heat to waft onto my boots. The hand warmers and toe warmers used by hunters have proven helpful”.

Good sound advice from a guy who knows how to enjoy a collector car.

Bill has driven the car thousands of winter miles: “I have been out in one of the cars after 12:00AM on January 1st (several years) to “ring in the New Year with the Old Car”. There have been jaunts around town of course and there have been a few longer trips: driving to work and back- 46 miles, a regional Model T snowmobile meet in Townsend, Mass- 78 miles, another regional meet in New London NH- 94 miles, and a National snowmobile meet in Meredith NH- 200 miles”.

You often hear how dedicated hard core Harley Davidson owners are, but Model T owners take this concept to another level- one that Harley guys could only dream about.

Bill is not an exception to this T owner rule because he lives his old cars 365 days of the year.

Many Model T owners take real pride in their all season vehicles because they like to celebrate the sheer toughness of these legendary Fords. A fair number of owners use them as backup second cars but Bill summed it up best when he described the reaction that he gets when he shows up driving the T in January winter weather: “You do need to be prepared, have a car that is in good shape, and you MUST be properly dressed. The look on the faces of people when you arrive, after they find out where you have driven from is Priceless. It’s a hoot. For me, anyway. Your mileage may vary”.

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We’d like to end this with a piece of advice-if you see an original Model T at a car show do yourself a favor and talk to the owner.

‘Model T owners-the most genuine, interesting and down to earth people you’ll meet at any show.’

Jerry Sutherland

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