Ford Model T

Runabout 1910

  • All-purpose, universal and accessible; more than 15 million units were built between 1908 and 1927.
  • It was powered by a 20 hp 4-cylinder engine linked to a pedal controlled transmission, with a top speed of 44 mph.
  • Production line assembly, standardization and adaptation of the coach work to the specific needs of each clientele.

With the automobile that came to be known affectionately as the "Tin Lizzie", millions of citizens would take to the roads and enjoy a new sensation of speed and mobility. Immortalized in film by Buster Keaton, tormented by Laurel and Hardy, the legendary Ford Model T brought the automobile into modern times.

When Henry Ford founded the Ford Manufacturing Company in 1905, he already had the idea of producing a universal vehicle that would be accessible to all. The Ford Model T was announced in summer 1908, and production commenced at the end of that September. It would prove to be an innovation in more than one way, notably with the use of a new and far more durable type of steel. Ford had taken account of the use of vanadium steel in European automobile production and after discrete research, found a steel works in Ohio capable of supplying its needs. This metal was used particularly for the manufacture of axles, crankshafts and parts of the gear box.

Concept work on the Model T started in 1906, giving birth to a basic chassis with transversal semi-elliptic spring suspension, sat on artillery style wooden spoke wheels. The 20 hp engine was a 4-cylinder 2895 cc composed of a single piece engine block topped with a separate cylinder head. The original transmission featured a planetary gear type with two speeds and a reverse drive.

With no clutch to speak of, the T was road-classified as semi-automatic, allowing special dispensation concerning required driving skills. Of its three pedals, pushing in the left would engage first gear, while letting out would engage the second. The middle pedal engaged reverse, and the right-hand pedal served as a brake on the transmission output. A lever put the automobile into neutral and also applied the brakes, with the accelerator and the choke were fitted around the steering wheel. The ignition system used a low voltage magneto fitted to the engine fly wheel.

To be continued...