The Ford Model T is one of the most famous vehicles in history. First produced in late 1908 (what would now be considered the 1909 model year), it became the second-most produced car ever after the Volkswagen Beetle. Shown above is a 1917 Model T Utility Truck. First rebuilt based on a picture of a peanut truck, it’s been reincarnated several times with different engines, wheels, and so forth. Below is a 1925 Model TT, a one-ton truck. PFM acquired this truck in a trade with Joel Harris of California, in exchange for a Travel Air fuselage. This is as yet unrestored, and will someday probably become a bus or a concession truck.
The engine, transmission, and chassis were essentially unchanged through the Model T production run. A four-cylinder, 20-horsepower engine fed power to a transmission with two forward speeds and reverse. Many different body styles were built on the basic frame.
The military bought thousands of Model Ts during World War I. The PFM has four Model Ts. These feature bodies built by PFM on original Model T chassis. The one shown here is a 1916 Model T with a French-style ambulance body. Before the US entered the war in 1917, Ford refused to sell to any of the combatants. Various organizations bought chassis independently of the governments and sent them to France, where bodies were built for them by French coachbuilders. These evolved into the French-style body reproduced on this machine.
Once the US entered the war, Ford began selling to the Allies. The ambulances used a body that was a simplified variant of the French-style body. PFM has built 5 reproduction ambulances so far; three are in other museums and two remain with PFM. All are reproduction bodies on original chassis. Most of PFM’s Model Ts have been modified to have electric start, but one has only the original manual starter. Here is a 1917 Ambulance with the simplified, production-style body.
Our newest model T acquisition is an unrestored 1927 wrecker. This machine was donated to PFM by somebody who’d inherited it and had no real interest in old vehicles. We’ve promised to give it a good home. It runs well, and we plan to leave it just as it is rather than restore it. With so many pretty restorations available, it’s nice sometimes to see a machine that looks just like it did when it had to work for a living. Besides, the rust holes patched with flattened-out tin cans adds a certain cachet to this one!
The winch and crane assembly on the back of this Model T were made by the Weaver Manufacturing Company. The Weaver Auto Crane is a very simple tow hook, especially when contrasted with the slings and ramp trucks of today. Still, it was a simpler time, and equipment was sturdier and, in some ways, harder to abuse.