Steve Shelton's post today of his grandfather's "cut-down" touring prompts a question; I didn't want to clutter up Steve's thread so decided to start this one to show my ignorance and ask a question that I have long wondered about:
It seems that Model T touring cars were quite often "cut-down" and made into some sort of pickup truck; some very nicely done, some rather crude, and many somewhere in between.
I can understand one obvious reason why this was done; we all know how "handy" a pickup truck can be, especially on the farm, and I'm sure that this was certainly the case back in the Model T era and especially during the depression in the '30's. However, I have heard that there was also another reason why this was so commonly done, and it had to do with something about the fact that there was some tax that did not apply to farm vehicles, and by cutting down a touring and making it a "farm vehicle", the tax did not apply.
My question is, is there any truth to that "no tax on farm vehicle" thing, or is it just another Model T Ford "tale"? If there is some substance to this, was it just certain states that had such tax provisions, or some federal tax, or what???
Maybe "Hap" could tell us (me) as I'm pretty sure that "Hap's" cut-down touring is a family "original" from back in the "T" era.
Hap,....???.......(or anyone else???)
P.S. Steve Shelton,....forgot to say that I can see that your "work in progress" is going to be a real beauty, and because it was your grandfathers, it will be wonder family "heirloom"!
Thanks for the nice words.
Here is what I "know" of cut down touring cars:
- Some (as in my case) were cast offs and were an expediant to a speedster for those with no funds to otherwise get one. My grandfather gave (or sold, family lore is fuzzy on this point) his late22/early 23 touring to a nephew. The nephew not only removed the back seat but cut the frame and drive shaft and lowered the frame. He was killed shortly thereafter and his brother passed the car to me some 40 years later. In Middle Tennessee these were referred to as "Skeeters."
- Many were converted to trucks during the depression for the obvious reason that many could not afford a truck and T's were a'plenty.
- I am told that during WWII one got more gas ration stamps for a truck than for a car and that this led to even more of these conversions.
In this more modern era my other truck is a crew cab. While the bird dogs and the occasional chicken would ride just fine in the back seat the wife seems adverse to this (go figure) and the pickup bed seems handy as a solution to her quirky views. But I ask you, what self respecting white rock would want to ride in the bed when these is a wind-free back seat to sit (or set) in?
Aaaaaah,.......WWII gas rationing gasoline ration stamps! Not a tax thing at all. Makes sense; thanks Steve.
And thanks for the "history" on your "T". Boy! I sure wish one of mine had family history tied to it like yours! Again, a real "family heirloom" for sure!
yes it is very special to me for that reason.
As for my information on cut down touring cars..please note I put the word "know" in quotes!
Discussing taxes, both state and Federal on the automobile is a whole issue..!
The new cars and trucks were taxed differently in the late 20's. So there is some credence to dealers ordering runabouts when Ford first came out the the metal pickup bed in 1925, and selling the bed separate to save the owner a bit of dough on tax. Motor cars were 3% excise tax, and trucks were more. Parts too were hit with excise tax.
Here are some magazine clips from 1922 and 1927.
If interested here is a great website with history of Federal taxes in the 20's
But really the old used touring Ford was ideal to cast off the worn out back seat and build a box......
Thanks Steve and Dan,........harold
Dan, that first article was very interesting. As stated "Steam transportation lines are said to be behind the move". There is a lot of truth behind that comment. In the early 1900s the train was the King! Eventualy, as motor cars and trucks, wrestled the steam locomotive from the high rails, rail lines began to offer limited services. Schedules changed, daily mixed trains became the norm. Many routes were simply pulled up.
Before the motor car, the rail lines out here, offered weekend excursion trips out to the "country". Small towns had, catillions and fairgrounds for the weekend visitors. In the hopes of getting visitors from Denver. There was dancing, croquette,(sp?) horeshoes & horse racing. Hot dogs, pickles, hard boiled eggs and coffee, even a live band playing. Tourism at its roots.
Our Railroad out here, eventualy transported Model Ts to our area dealers. Further hastening its demise, as rural Colorado gained its freedom from the railroads. Now, the old railroad grade stands only as a silent reminder of our history. Slowly overtaken by both time, and the developers. On a quiet night, one can almost hear, the clackety clack of the steel wheels on the rails, and in the distance, a steam whistle blowing.
Great stuff. keep it coming....
Good mornin' America how are ya...hey don't ya know me I'm your native son...
Actually the City of New Orleans is still running, but its not really the same on an AMTRAK schedule.
Evading taxes on the touring car by changing ours into a pickup was the story I was always told regarding grandpa and our '20. This was Wisconsin, don't have any proof of it, so if it's folklore, it was told in my family too!
I have a 1921 touring that my uncle bought new and later sold to a neighbor. I am not sure why the back half of the touring was removed, but I do know that the neighbor used the touring/pickup to transport farm products to and from the nearest town about 8 miles away.
About 15 years ago, the car was put up on a sealed bid sale. Mine was the winning bid. It is back in my family again.
The rear half was in one of the neighbors barns and it went with the car.
Just for the record: These conversions took also place outside the US.
Many states still allow a reduced rate for registration of a Farm Vehicle. Today in Virginia the cost for a Farm Vehicle tag is half the cost of a regular tag (minimum of $15). [See http://www.dmv.state.va.us/webdoc/citizen/vehicles/farm_registration.asp and that it was for use in transporting the harvest etc. to market as well as bringing supplies to the farm.] Colorado has a similar tag and states “Available For: Farm truck equipped with a body, which is generally and commonly used to carry and transport property over the public highways.” See: http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/Revenue-MV/RMV/1185870965443#farmtruck
That probability was one of the considerations for converting the tourings back in the day. But I believe the main consideration was that many of the owners of Model Ts were farmers. And often times when they were finally able to afford a new car for the family the existing T could be traded in or sold for very little money or it could have the rear seat removed and make an excellent 1/4 ton pickup (often grossly overloaded). So basically when they purchased another car (often a newer Model T) they got a used pickup truck for free. It is such a good little truck that kits, vendors, and finally Ford offered a pickup bed for them.
One other comment “Tax Evasion” is illegal and is prosecuted. “Tax Avoidance” is legal and encouraged by most governments. That is one of the ways they try to influence our spending habits. But don’t worry – I don’t anticipate a rush to convert a lot of the existing tourings to Farm trucks. You also have to own a Farm in most states to qualify for the tag. Not to mention the Antique car tag is often less expensive and you can drive your T to old car meets rather than being limited to driving "to from" the farmer’s market.
Hap 1915 Model T Ford touring cut off and made into a pickup truck and l907 Model S Runabout. Sumter SC.
I think the majority of conversions were due to availability and practical necessity. Turn the old touring car into a pickup when the new car arrived and use it up. There is also some credence to the gas rationing idea of WWII. Most farms qualified for a 'B' sticker and the larger gas ration that came with it. I'm sure that many a Model T never saw the road but was licensed and a 'B' sticker applied to the windshield.
Converting cars to pickups continued into the 1950's as I remember seeing quite a few late '40s & early 50's cars that had had the rear section cut off behind the front seat. Usually everything from the back of the "cab" to the rear bumper was plywood although some used the pickup boxes from old trucks also.
Who knows, with frugality coming back in style...
frugality = poverty.
And it is not fashionable, but a rather harsh reality for millions who have not benefitted from various bailouts.
But how to you turn a Taurus into a cut-off?
Steve, try this with a touring car.