Last year, a 1915 Model T Fire Chief's Car arrived at the doorstep of Tim Foye, of Gen3 Restorations (http://www.modeltengine.com/). It was in pretty sad shape and the engine was a burnt-out, wet-rusty mess.
Tim did considerable restorative work on the car and then sent it back to its home on Long Island, about an hour's drive from where I live. After reading about that on this forum, I phoned and arranged with the Southampton Fire Department to visit the car and I shot (and posted) a bunch of photographs of such poor quality, it would have sent George Eastman home crying if the poor fellow weren't turning over in his grave like a rotisserie.
Bad snapshots aside, the car itself was just about the prettiest Model T I had ever seen. But I was sure I had seen it before, at the late Henry Austin Clark's now-shuttered Long Island Automotive Museum. This was back when I was much younger and still had an abundant supply of blank, long-range memory cells available. I talked it over with Tim, but he agreed with other experts that this particular car could just as easily be a different '15 Runabout painted up to replicate the museum car. Regardless of its identity one way or the other, the car Tim had brought back from the dead was drop-dead, jaw-hanging gorgeous.
Well, just last week, two things happened that by dumb luck shed quite a bit of light on the subject of this car's identity:
Because I was shopping for a Model T, I got in touch with the Horseless Carriage Club of America, in California, to place a classified ad and happened to speak with their executive secretary, Sharon Gooding. She felt that her friend, Warren Kraft, who happened to live not far from me, might know of such a car for sale, so she gave me his telephone number and I called him. Well, no dice on the car, but it turns out that Mr. Kraft was a very close friend of Henry Austin Clark and he had been put in charge of disposing of the Long Island Automotive Museum collection after Mr. Clark passed away. Mr. Kraft told me that the Fire Chief's Car which Tim Foye had restored and returned to the Southampton Fire Department was indeed the original museum car once owned by his pal, "Austie" Clark.
Almost half a century ago, when I was a little shaver, my Dad bought me a book that Henry Austin Clark had authored (printed in 1955) from the gift shop at his museum. I kept it for many years, but then one day a ruthless house-cleaning took place while I was elsewhere and this treasure disappeared. I've been searching for a replacement for decades. Then, last week, the Antique Automobile Club of America's Library returned one of my calls about the book to tell me they had finally received a donated copy and would I like a digitized copy of the whole thing? Well, below you'll see one of the photos from this old book and there's the very Fire Chief's Car Tim Foye resurrected, in glorious Black & White.
Henry Austin Clark kicked off the antique car hobby in America pretty much by himself back in 1937 when he "collected" his very first vintage car, a 1915 Model T Runabout he named "Emaline." (sound familiar?) The car was only 22 years old at that point. Eleven years later, Mr. Clark opened his Long Island Automotive Museum to the public and in its day, it was the automotive equivalent of the Smithsonian's Air & Space collection. "Emaline," repainted in Fire Chief colors and heading up Mr. Clark's mythical "Sandy Hollow Fire Department," became the museum's "Spirit of St. Louis" (Sandy Hollow is the name of a road in Southampton, the town where the museum was located).
If you view the following extremely rare footage of the Long Island Automotive Museum, you'll catch a glimpse of "Emaline" at the 2:23-minute mark.
Automotive history just doesn't get much cooler than that!
You can also watch a YouTube file of the freshly restored car being test driven at this web address:
Thanks for posting. It is always fun to track down the history of cars etc. Often times we run into dead ends, but it is always worth looking, because you never know when a lead will actually turn out to answer your question. I'm glad you found out and I'm sure it has brought back many fond memories.
Reminds me of the "Take a Kid to a Car Show" theme (I think Hemmings is where I saw that). If we catch the old car hobby as a kid -- there is a good chance we will continue to support the hobby.
Hap l9l5 Model T Ford touring cut off and made into a pickup truck and l907 Model S Runabout. Sumter SC.
My father was an acquaintance of Henry Austin Clark.
Henry used that same photo on the back of his business card, except that it was glossy and in color.
My dad had a couple of these business cards - I remember looking at them many times over the years. When you posted earlier about him, I tried to locate it so I could scan it for you but I think my dad may have thrown it away after Henry passed away.
Also, I believe that same photo is either in the book "Tin Lizzie" by Stern or "Henry's Wonderful Model T" by Floyd Clymer.
When I compared the photos originally posted in earlier threads by Tim to the Henry Austin Clark photo in the above referenced book, I did not think that it was the same car since the bell is mounted much lower in the "Sandy Hollow" picture vs. the "South Hampton" picture.
Henry also had a series of color postcards of the various cars on display at the museum. I'm pretty sure that one of these postcards includes the same picture of him sitting in the roadster. These postcards pop up at antique shops and on eBay. If you want a color photo of the roadster, keep your eye on eBay - click on the link below to see a sample postcard.
http://cgi.ebay.com/New-York-Southampton-Long-Island-Automotive-Museum_W0QQitemZ 120550792432QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item1c11631cf0#ht_500wt_9 56
Thanks for your kind words, Hap.
Erik, I was also puzzled about the different position of the bell. I suppose it's possible that when it came time to repaint the car, they moved the bell up so the hood would clear it when opened and thereby better protect the new paint job.
Other changes are a lack of thick black trim across the top corners of the cowling, around the doors and across the bottom of the trunk. Also, the positioning of the word, "Chief," has been raised several inches on the doors. Maybe at some point, someone had mounted some kind of fire-fighting equipment on the running board and it blocked the lettering. That's the only thing I can think of.
I have a postcard (about 40 years old) with that car on it.