I came across this article in the June 1908 "Automobile". It mentions the new Model T being built alongside The Ford runabouts (Models N & S). If Ts are being assembled this early, I'd be surprised if they aren't showing up at dealerships before Oct 1908.
I think a potentially important word is “will” vs “has” – or maybe not. I.e. -- "the new 20-horsepower touring cars, which, by the way, WILL have the steering wheel on the left-hand side." If they were already being produced I believe the article might have said “…which by the way, HAS the steering wheel on the left-hand side.”
Also we have very good documentation on Model T number 1 [shipping document] as well as the Model T number "0" that Henry took on the hunting trip. Ford intended to have the T in production earlier but they did not make it until the fall of 1908 from all the records that I know of.
And in the accounts receivable records we have approximately one-fourth of the Model T engine numbers listed. From the posting at: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/322425.html we have:
Below is a small sample of Trent’s listing which is on Bruce’s “Model T Comprehensive Encyclopedia” as well as Carl Pate’s “Pate’s Early Ford Automobile Encyclopedia” http://www.earlyfordcars.info/ :
10/01/08 T 1 Ford Motor Company New York NY
11/04/08 T 9 Standard Motor Car Co. San Francisco CA
11/04/08 T 11 Standard Motor Car Co. San Francisco CA
11/12/08 T 34 Northwestern Auto Co. Minneapolis MN
11/12/08 T 35 Northwestern Auto Co. Minneapolis MN
11/12/08 T 36 Northwestern Auto Co. Minneapolis MN
11/20/08 T 55 Gibson Auto Co. Indianapolis IN
11/20/08 T 52 Ford Auto Co. of Baltimore Baltimore MD
11/20/08 T 48 Chas. E. Miller & Bros. Washington DC
11/23/08 T 53 Wm. Warnock Sioux City IA
11/24/08 T 69 Glide Motor Car Co. New Orleans LA
12/01/08 T 108 Corn Belt Auto Co. Waterloo IA
12/01/08 T 103 Denight Auto Co. Omaha NE
12/01/08 T 87 N. C. Huie Atlanta GA
12/09/08 T 120 Merchants Auto Co. Cincinnati OH
12/10/08 T 164 Gibson Auto Co. Indianapolis IN
Thank you for posting the article. In many cases what they thought would happen did not happen or happened on a different time line etc. Please keep those older articles coming!
Hap l9l5 cut off
In Bruce McCalley's book "Model T Ford The Car That Changed The World" check the bottom of column 2, page 19. "While a number of the new cars were assembled and tested during 1908, the first production Model T engine was not built until September, and that car was not shipped until October 1st".
Read the whole thing but it would seem that Ford built quite a few test cars that were not production models and were not sold.
Also in this passage of the book it states that "In the June 1908 issue of the Ford Times, pictures of the Model T Landaulet were shown.
Both of these statements from Bruce's book fits nicely with the information you posted.
Hap and Paul,
Good points.. I was surprised to find a public article discussing the Model T this early. Also, it appears at least some portion of T production is happening for the mention to occur.
I came across this at the same time I found the article about a six cylinder (NRS) runabout being spotted. Following is another "mystery". A listing from a car show occurring during the fall of 1907, with three "mystery" Fords listed. Two are 97 in wheelbase, 20 HP cars, a runabout and touring, and a third, a taxi, with the same specs, listed. This is a full year before sales of the 100 in wheelbase, 20 hp Model T. It is also hard to believe they a referring to the well known (number one selling car in the US at this point) Models NRS, with 15 hp 87 in wheel base.
So, what is your "guess" as to what Model Fords these are?
Check out page 11. It is a letter to Henry from James Couzens dated February 18, 1908. "Orders are coming in in good shape........I must admit, however that things don't look very bright for the new car getting out very early. In fact, yesterday afternoon, I guess one of the things that contributed to my illness more than anything was the pessimistic view taken by Mr. Flanders as to the outlook of producing Model T". It goes on to state that" Mr. Wills tells me that he has got the magneto in fine shape".
It would seem that the Model T project would have to have been started as early as 1907 for this discussion to take place in February of 1908.
What Fords do you think the article directly above is referring to? Not T and not NRS specs, but something "in between". Again, these are assembled cars being shown to the public, and this is a full year before the 100 in wheelbase T is sold.
I doubt that we will ever know but it may be that they were the first auto show concept cars built by Ford.
The ignition is listed as "storage Battery" so that is not a Model T. The first prototype T did not have any storage batteries when it went on the run with Ford and a couple of other guys, (I've forgotten just who they were).
Good catch. I missed that fact. I still would bet that they were early concepts of the Model T.
There were Model S touring s built, and the frame was lengthened, but no reason for the runabout listed to be a lengthened S. also, the 20 hp listing would be off for an NS engine.
Well, never say never, it was just yesterday I found a snippet about Henry driving a 6 cylinder N/S, confirming that the 6 cylinder in Australia ( or another one like it) was actually in a car and operated, no less by Henry Ford.
I forgot that I have an original January 5th 1908 Denver Colorado news paper that has a Ford ad with a picture of a S Coupe AND a drawing of the "Model T, 4-cylinder Touring Car - The 1908 Sensation."
I thought I sent you a copy of this but if I didn't let me know and I will send you one. I know that Hap has a copy. Actually since I have evidence of advertising on January 5th of 08 the Model T project would have had to been started early in 07.
Paul how about posting the article on here?
Let me see what I can do. It might take a day or two as I do not have a scanner at home but I think I can figure out a way to post it.
The reason I forgot about this is that the Ford records note that only 28 Model S Coups were made, none are known to have survived, and we only have two pictures of them. One is a low resolution picture of a S Coupe used as a Mail Delivery Vehicle. Bruce was able to take the original newspaper picture and enhance it where you could zoom in and actually see such detail items as the fender rivets! This was big news a couple of years ago and I forgot that there was an advance drawing of the Model T on it.
These are the S photos I could find. I recall you sending me one, and I believe one of these is the one you sent. I also recall seeing a ledger or something where several were sold in Colorado and a few in Omaha.
From trips to the Benson Ford Research Center, you do find Model T drawings with origination dates in 1907. I wonder if delayed delivery might have been a result of several technical issues? We know the first 2,500 frames were weak and had to have fishplates riveted inside the channel on both sides before assembly. There is even a picture of Model NRS in the yard at Piquette being tested with the stack of Model T frames in the background. Another possible issue was changing from three pedal and two lever to two pedal and two lever control.
I found a letter in the archives some time ago that was written to Henry Ford by James Couzens on Feb. 18, 1908. Henry is on vacation in Florida and Couzens is updating Henry on a number of matters going on at Ford.
on the subject of the model T, Couzens relates,"I must admit, however,that things don't look very bright for the new car getting out very early.
in fact,yesterday afternoon, I guess one of the things that contribute to my illness more then anything was the pessimistic view taken by Mr. Flanders as to the outlook of producing the model T. In fact, he doesn't think he will get them out until may now, although he expected April right along. I authorized him yesterday to go ahead and run night and day, to clean up the first twenty five hundred S's before starting the T, at least , to clean up the machine work on them as he claims not practical to put through both models at one time.
Mr. Wills tells me that he has got the magneto in fine shape and has fully advised us as to the success he has had".
The letter can be found in its entirety on page 11 of Bruce's encyclopedia. Ford was trying a lot of different ideas for the new model, the magneto, the use of pressed steel stampings. I think they probable had trouble with these things for most of the year. The first T we really hear about is the car that Henry took hunting in September. There are a couple of experimental T engines still in existence, so there were probably some form of model T running around during the summer of 08.
Paul, sorry i didn't see you had already posted on that letter. Here is a picture taken in the drafting department at Ford. In the original picture, you can see a calendar on the back wall that shows June 1908. Note the proto type T cylinder head in the bench with the 45 degree water outlet.
A few years ago, I saw photos of a couple test chassis that were being driven around the streets of Detroit. I think I may have seen them on this forum, but am not sure. I know I do not have copies of them. One was a photo from a distance showing the back of the chassis going away. The other was a little more close up, I think in the yard at the Piquette plant. They were little more than a chassis with a seat on it and no fenders. I often refer to them as the first model T speedsters.
Ford spent more time developing the model T than probably on any other model since the A. He knew that he was still trying to "get it right".
Drive carefully, and enjoy the holidays! W2