1909 Ford Model T

1909 Ford Model T
The Model T was introduced in October of 1908. It was a totally new car in comparison to Ford's previous models. The T was Ford's only offering in 1909. It was available in five body styles - touring, runabout (roadster), coupe, town car and landaulet. The first 2,500 Model T's had minor variations and are considered unique by automotive historians and car collectors.

Source - AACA Museum
1909 Ford Model T
Chassis #: 577
This Ford Model T Touring vehicle had a factory price of $850. It has the serial number of 577 which makes it the fifth-oldest Model T known to exist and one of the first Model T to be produced. Less than 6 examples exist with the original 'two levers.' The original series of Model T's had two levers, one forward and one reverse, and two pedals. Shortly thereafter, a recall was ordered which changed the cars from two pedals to three. The reverse was placed on the floor.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T
Chassis #: 5321
This car is #5321 and was built on June 21, 1909, and shipped to the Philadelphia branch on June 23, 1909.

A few years ago, an intact car was discovered in a barn in Texas, was extricated, and the body was copied in Canada by an elderly craftsman who worked in all media (metal, wood, glass, fabric, etc). Out of this discovery of one car in Texas, three cars now exist. This is one of them. It is questionable if more will be built.

1909 was the first year for the Ford Motor Company to use the term 'Towncar.' There was a total of slightly more than 8,000 1909 Model Ts built and only 275 were Towncars. The Towncars were the highest priced Model Ts in 1909 and, unfortunately, there was no market for a high-end Model T Ford intended to be chauffeur-driven. virtually the entire production was relegated to taxi cab use. Of course this explains why for a long time the cars were thought to be extinct.

It is not a very comfortable car to drive. It was the heaviest Model T made in 1909. The small engine, developing 20 horsepower, works hard to pull it around.

1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T
Chassis #: 2585
Sold for $55,000 at 2008 Automobiles of Amelia Island, RM Auctions.
The Model T Ford was introduced in October of 1908 and remained in production for the next 19 years. In total, more than 15 million examples were produced thanks, in part, to the low cost and mass-production methods of the assembly line.

This example was offered for sale at the 2008 Automobiles of Amelia auction by RM Auctions. It is a very early Model T in concours quality condition that was estimated to sell for $65,000 - $90,000. It's 176.7 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine produces 20 horsepower and is mated to a two-speed planetary gearbox. There are two-wheel mechanical drum brakes and a wheelbase that measures 100 inches. Its finish is in proper factory red and accented by the polished brass pieces that can be found throughout the vehicle. A buyer was found, but at a value less than the estimated value. The car was sold for $55,000.

By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2008
1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T
Chassis #: 1400
Engine #: 1400
The 1909 Ford Model T Touring car sold for a mere $850 and weighed just 1200 pounds. It was sturdy, durable, reliable, and competitively priced. The Tin Lizzy had plenty of performance and a popularity that was hard to beat.

This car is chassis number 1400 with matching engine number. It was part of Burd's Antique Car Museum in Waterloo, Iowa for nearly 3 decades.

Chassis 1400 was similar to the first 750 cars produced, featuring the early radiator, water pump, and fenders. It did have its differences such as three pedals and one lever.

When Harry Burd closed his museum in 1959, ownership passed to Ben Snider of Riverside, California. Snider retained the car for three years before selling to the Harrah Collection in Reno, Nevada. Though the car was in good, original condition, it was treated to a complete and comprehensive restoration. When Bill Harrah passed away, ownership transferred to a Southern California resident and Model T collector. The car was in the ownership of another individual when it brought to the 2007 Gooding & Company auction held at Pebble Beach, Ca. The car's restoration still shows well though it is decades old. At auction it was offered without reserve and estimated to sell for $60,000 - $80,000. Sadly, it left the auction unsold.

By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T
The Model T Ford was introduced to the public in October of 1908 and was an entirely new car when compared to the Ford's previous cars, the Models N, R, and S which proceeded it.

The engine was four cylinders, cast en-bloc, with a removable cylinder head. It produced approximately 22 horsepower at 1600 RPM and had a cubic-inch displacement of 176.6. The engine pan was a one-piece steel stamping which not only held the engine, but enclosed the two-speed planetary transmission and magneto ignition system as well.

The chassis was constructed using the 'three-point' suspension system which attached the front and rear assemblies as well as the engine by means of three attachment points, which allowed for flexibility. Ford's use of a new material, vanadium steel, allowed the car to be stronger yet lighter than most other vehicles produced during this period. The earliest Model T touring cars weighed approximately 1,200 pounds and had a top speed of nearly 55 mph.

This very rare, early 1909 Model T Ford is one of a very few authentic examples in existence today. The first 2,500 Model T touring cars were finished in red and sold new for $850 new. The top, windshield, and headlamps were not standard equipment but were available as accessories.

1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T
Chassis #: 3300
Sold for $57,750 at 2010 RM Auctions - Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook.
This Ford Model T Landaulet is one of just 298 examples produced for 1909, and is the rarest Model T from the Brass Era. The Landaulet was produced only between 1909 and 1910. Ford produced 1,461 cars for 1909 with 298 of those being the Landaulet, followed by two examples in 1910. This car had been converted into a Town Car; after an exhaustive restoration, it was returned to its correct and original 'open driver' configuration. It made its restoration debut at the 2006 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.

The car is powered by an open-valve engine with a Kingston five-ball brass carburetor and is capable of producing 20 horsepower. There is a six-rivet rear axle and one-piece engine pan. Inside, the folding Landau top is lined with matching wool broadcloth, and passenger appointments include jump seats, bud vases, wool carpeting, and mahogany-trimmed sliding beveled glass windows. The driver's seat has been correctly restored in maroon leather in a diamond-tufted design. There are wooden wheels with all-white tires, and there are plenty of brass appointments including the radiator shell, acetylene headlamps, acetylene generator and kerosene side and tail lamps.

In 2010, this Landaulet was offered for sale at the Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook where it was estimated to sell for $60,000 - $80,000. As bidding came to a close, the car was sold for the sum of $57,750 including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2010
1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T
Chassis #: 3142
Sold for $55,000 at 2010 RM Auctions - Sports & Classics of Monterey.
This Model T was purchased from the Bayliss Motor Company in May 1909 for the sum of $985 for Miss Kate Helm of Bowmans Mill Pike, Fayette County, Kentucky. This Model T is one of approximately 10,000 produced in 1909, and one of an unknown number built in Pontiac, Michigan prior to September 1909 with a body constructed of sheet aluminum panels over hardwood frame.

This touring car was once in the collection of Clyde Ensor, Sr., and is a former AACA First Prize winner. It wears a restoration that dates to the mid-1960s.

In 2010, this car was offered for sale at the 'Sports & Classics of Monterey' presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $60,000 - $80,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $55,000 inclusive of buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2010
1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T 1909 Ford Model T
This Model T is noted as being a Two-Peddle, Two-Lever T due to its prototype transmission. This example, number 131, was built in December of 1908 and is one of over 15 million Model T Fords built.

The majority of its life from 1955 to 1979 was spent in the Harrah Collection. The car was then sold to the Ken Keesee Model T Museum in Anaheim, CA, where it was restored.

The current owners performed a light cosmetic freshening when they purchased the vehicle in 2009. Extensive research shows $131 may be the oldest substantiated Model T Ford in existence.

By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2011
The Ford Model T has an extensive history in the automotive market lasting for nearly 20 years. It is often called the 'Tin Lizzie' and the 'Flivver' and is credited with 'putting America on wheels.' During the early 1900's, the automobile was very new and the market place was adjusting to having these horseless carriages carry its passengers rather than bicycles or horses. Steam, electricity, and gasoline were the three means of powering the vehicles. Up until about 1915, no one really knew which would be the favorable power-source. Steam provided many benefits such as being quiet, clean, and cheap. Gasoline or kerosene fuel was used to heat water in a boiler; the steam produced was channeled to the cylinders, where the pressure drives the pistons up and down. The shortcomings were that it took a while to start, having to wait for the steam to prepare. It was dangerous, often exploding and causing injury. It had a limited range, lasting about 20-40 miles before requiring a refueling. Electricity was popular but it too had a limited range. It was easy to start and was very popular with the ladies for driving around town. Then there was gasoline, which was dirty and hard to start. It required fueling stations which were sometimes difficult to find in this new and evolving marketplace. The main benefit of the gasoline engine was that it had the most potential and an ever increasing amount of power. It was said that how a vehicle finished on the race track often determined the success of sales. With gasoline engines winning most of the races, the other sources of power were eventually doomed.

There were over 200 automobile manufacturers during the early 1900's. The average production figures for a factory were a couple hundred vehicles a year. This of course varied greatly due to the complexity and prestige of the vehicle being produced. Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, produced a vehicle that was affordable, but more importantly, mass produced. By using an assembly line to construct parts, rather than the traditional hand assembly, the process was streamlined. Using an assembly line process was not new, it had been done before in the meat packing industry. William C. Klan had visited a slaughterhouse in Chicago. Upon returning from his visit, he proposed the idea to Peter Martin. A team was assembled and perfected through trial and error. The assembly line did not begin operation on the Model T until 1914. The assembly line process streamlined the production greatly, now averaging just over 90 minutes to assemble a car. During 1914, there were more Ford's produced than all other manufacturers combined. At that point 'you get it in any color you wanted so long as it was black'. Henry Ford favored the black color because it dried the fastest. During the years 1917 through 1923, Ford did not do any advertising, with 9 out of 10 cars being Fords, none was necessary.

He paid his workers a wage proportionate to the cost of the automobile, so they would be able to buy what they produced. By introducing these innovations, his factories were able to out produce and outsell the rest of the industry and mobilize the country. When production of the Model T began, the cost was around $850, around $1200 less than most cars. By the early 1920's, the price of the Model T cost about $300. Ford had found many ways to cut costs and offer the least-expensive product. He instructed his suppliers how to assemble the wood crates that were used to ship him parts. The crates were then dismantled and used within the bodies of the car. The scrapes were made into charcoal and sold under the name 'Kingsford'.

The first Model T was produced on September 27th, 1908 at the Piquette Plant in Detoit, Michigan. There are two classes of the Model T, those that were produced before 1919 and after 1919. The pre-1919 Model T's are known as veteran cars while the later models are called vintage cars. Even though the name Model T was used for almost twenty years, it was much improved both visually and mechanically over the years. At all times, the vehicle could be had in a wide variety of bodystyles. The open touring cars and roadsters were cheaper to produced and thus, produced in greater numbers. The Volkswagen 'Beetle' is the only car model to outsell the Model T Ford.

The Model T was designed by Henry Ford, Childe Harold Wills, Joseph A. Galamb and Eugene Farkas. A 177 cubic-inch four-cylinder motor was placed in the front and powered the rear wheels. The 20 horsepower engine was capable of carrying the vehicle to a top speed of around 45 mph. There were three main bearings and side valves. A ten gallon fuel tank could be found beneath the front seat, mounted to the frame. The engine started by a hand crank located at the front of the vehicle. The crank was very difficult to operate and has been the cause of many broken arms.

The smaller engines were favored by Henry Ford. His Model K had used a six-cylinder engine, but when production ceased around 1908, a six-cylinder engine would not be used again by Ford until 1941. The Model K had not been a sales success. While Ford had wanted to produce small and inexpensive vehicles, his board of directors had persuaded him to produce a larger, luxurious, and expensive model. In 1906, Henry Ford purchased the majority of stock leaving him in control and in charge of the direction of the company. After World War I he purchased the remaining Ford stock so he could dispense with the board of directors entirely. From 1906 through 1908, Ford created the Model N, R and S which eventually evolving into the Model T.

A 'three speed' planetary gear type transmission was used. This had been used in the Model K but was not suited to such a large vehicle. As a result it suffered from frequent breakdowns, but worked fine in the Model T. The 3-speed unit was actually two-speeds forward plus one reverse. With no clutch pedal, shifting was handled by floor pedals that did not require a clutch. Also located on the floor was a third pedal which operated the reverse gear. The throttle was controlled by a lever on the steering column. Neutral was located by the parking brake lever. The other foot pedal applied a band around a drum in the transmission. The parking brake lever operated the band brakes on the outside of the rear brake drums. When the hand lever was pulled back, the brake was engaged and the drive gears were disengaged.

Wooden 'artillery wheels' were standard until 1926 when they were replaced with steel wire wheels. The suspension was a transversely mounted semi-elliptical spring for both the front and rear axle. Brass was used throughout the earlier vehicles for items such as horns, radiators, and headlights. Headlights were acetylene lamps but later switched to electric lights.

Sales peaked in 1924 with over 2 million automobiles leaving the assembly line. By this time, many of Ford's competitors had switched to the same principles that had made the Model T success: a cheap and reliable vehicle built on an assembly line produced in mass quantities. Other manufactures started attracting new buyers by offering amenities, extras, or larger engines. Popular options included windshield wipers, anti-theft locks, and light dimmers. Chevrolet vehicles had three forward gears while the Model T still used only two. Also, since the Model T's were so durable, they were still in functioning order. Meaning that many owners did not need a car or when they did, they usually bought a more luxurious vehicle. The used Model T's were then sold for next-to-nothing. Sales began to dip in 1925 and dramatically in 1926. Production ceased in 1927 for nearly six months while preparations were made for the production of the Model A.

The Model T mobilized a nation, not only the United States, but many other countries. With dealerships and factories setup throughout the world, the Model T was mass produced and easily available to many buyers. Often, the factories were established in other countries to get around an import tax, thus keeping the cost low. The innovative Model T served its purpose. It was inexpensive and reliable, many lasting even to this day.

By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006

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Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1909 Model T
1909 Ford Model T Price Range: $826 - $1,005

Model Year Production

1914Ford (308,162)Overland (48,461)Studebaker (35,374)308,162
1913Ford (168,220)Overland (37,422)Studebaker (31,994)168,220
1912Ford (78,440)Overland (28,572)Buick (19,812)78,440
1911Ford (69,762)Overland (18,745)Maxwell (16,000)69,762
1910Ford (32,053)Buick (30,525)Overland (15,598)32,053
1909Ford (17,771)Buick (14,606)Maxwell (9,460)17,771
1908Ford (10,202)Buick (8,820)Studebaker (8,132)10,202
1907Ford (14,887)Buick (4,641)Maxwell (3,785)14,887
1906Ford (8,729)Cadillac (3,650)Rambler (2,765)8,729
1905Oldsmobile (6,500)Cadillac (4,029)Rambler (3,807)1,599
1904Oldsmobile (5,508)Rambler (2,342)Cadillac (2,319)1,685

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