When I see a Model T, it reminds me of happy, carefree days of the roaring 20's and the silent comedies of Buster Keaton, the Keystone Kops, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy, but for some reason, when I see the Model A, I get no happiness from it like with the Model T, as I equate the Model A with the darker days of the Depression, Hovervilles and soup lines. Maybe that is why we are so drawn to the Model T as opposed to the Model A.
I wonder how many times Henry Ford lamented going to the massive expense of tooling up for the more expensive Model A at the dawn of the Depression phasing out the affordable Model T and introducing a car that many could not afford. I'll bet he told anyone who would listen that, if we would have continued making the Model T, it would have come back because we could have made it even cheaper for the masses to be able to afford. Perhaps old Henry had a point, but hindsight is always 20/20. Jim Patrick
At about 1927, to many folks who could still afford a T just didn't want one. There were to many tantalizing choices that were nearly as affordable.
He should have modernized the T, beginning no later than 1920.
3 speed planetary
Real steering gear
Your right Erich. The antiquated Model T could have probably never seen a resurgence because of advancements in the auto industry and changing tastes of the public who would no longer settle for just what Henry thought they should have. I was just saying, that I'm sure old Henry was always trying to justify why he was right in wanting to keep his beloved T and everyone else was wrong to want to progress to something better and the depression was probably used by Henry to argue his point that he was right all along in wanting to keep the more affordable T in production, which was, no doubt, bolstered by the yes men that surrounded him... Jim Patrick
I suspect Henry was about six feet tall, as I am. In a 1923 Roadster, the top of the windshield cuts my view of the road in half. I am cramped in a C-cab TT, an Improved Ford, and a Model A. Why did Henry build cars that were not even comfortable for him?
I agree Jim. I also associate the T with early motorized transportation. A very historic thing and it looks the part too. The A is just another nice old car to me. I had to laugh when I saw a book about the Model A for sale in a store. The title was "Henry's Lady". Umm....wouldn't that better describe the model T? Henry's Lament would be a more accurate name considering the A was largely a depression era car Henry was forced to make. More like a Chevy with a Ford badge unlike the pure Fords that preceded it. I can only guess that the author was experiencing a little sour grapes and wanted to convince the public that the A Was superior to the T which it was not.
Ralph. I'll bet Henry's response to your discomfort would "discomfort builds character".
By the way. I'm 6'3, 220 lbs. and am quite comfortable in my '26 coupe and can see through the one piece windshield just fine. Of course, I have to enter the car through the passenger door, my legs are too long and getting them up on the too close pedals is difficult, but "it all builds character". Jim Patrick
According to biographer Sidney Olson, Henry Ford was 5'9"-5'10" tall in his 30's, but shrank noticeably over his lifespan.
Perhaps he shrank from sitting in the Model A.
If I'm not mistaken wasn't there a line quoted about the A's introduction that "Henry's made a lady out of Lizzie" ?
Dave, the Model A was referred to as "Henry's Lady" back when it first came out. There was even a song "Henry's Made a Lady out of Lizzie" at the time. It was also referred to as a baby Lincoln as it had similar styling and lines.
I have a lot of memories of my A as i was in high school when i drove it, a very roomy back seat and the shifter could be moved out of the way, i had a 31 Fordor.
When my dad was in college, the family bought him a 29 Model A coupe. That was before the onset of the depression. He had previously had a Model T coupe which he had a contest with a trolley car and the trolley won. Later the family cut off the back of the Model A and made it into a truck. They even built a platform for the top and had a two deck truck which they used for hauling furniture for their business.
I can remember very plainly two events which happened when I was about 4 years old. My grandparents took me from Los Angeles to Santa Monica, which was a country drive in those days. Somewhere along the way we had a flat tire, and grandpa took off the wheel and grandma and I watched him go down the road whistling Mary had a Little Lamb, while rolling the wheel. later, seemed like hours to a 4 year old, he came back and put the wheel back on the car and we were on our way!
The other event was when we stopped to get an ice cream cone, and I like most other children accidently flipped the ice cream off the cone and it landed on the floorboard. Grandma took a napkin and wiped the dirt off the ice cream and put it back on the cone and I finished it.
That was also the first car I learned to drive.
Many years later I was the last owner of that car after it had blown a piston. I took all the parts which were still good and the wrecking yard got the rest of it.
I was just telling a friend last week about how I came very close to buying a Model A from this Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania dealer, back in the 1980s.
The car was a brown, rumble-seat roadster, with good paint and a smooth-running engine, but it had been re-upholstered in a Mexican blanket zig-zag pattern, and there was a lot of oddball equipment like a chrome-barefoot accelerator pedal and a chrome-skull gearshift knob with plastic-ruby eyes. The dealer wanted $5,000 for the car, which, back then, was probably a little overpriced, especially considering its very un-stock condition. And me and the missus were newlyweds living in an unpleasantly small, non-air-conditioned, attic apartment, which had us thinking seriously about buying a house, so it wasn't time to adopt a marginally practical car.
Well, that was followed by the usual story of raising a family while simultaneously trying to keep our fiscal heads above water, so the opportunity to buy an antique car didn't resurface for decades. When it did, I first considered a Model A for its greater practicality and maybe for the nostalgia of reclaiming the one that got away, but when push came to shove, just couldn't bring myself to buy something that modern. Since I loved brass cars and old Fords (and was still working with limited funding), the answer was a brass Model T Ford.
The oohs and ahhs our Model T, "Penelope" gets when we pull into the McDonald's parking lot make it worth the inconvenience of not being able to use highways or range too far from home base. A lot of the best car shows are a little out of my driving range, so the planned, eventual answer to that problem will amount to an open trailer and keeping a skeptical eye on weather forecasts.
It sounds funny, but I used to think I was the only one that remember Depression when I see a '30 or '31 Model A...
I love model Ts and also model As ('28 - '29), but I do not trade my '25 T for any model A...
Thanks Howard and Jeff. Yes a song will do it everytime. I think I may have heard it a long time ago.
Ralph, My late '31 Slant Windshield 4 Door Sedan (160-A) has a adjustable front seat. I am 5'11" and when the seat is all the way back I can barely touch the pedals with my toes. Maybe I have short legs!
I'm 6'6", 250lbs., long legs. I don't fit nicely in neither a T nor an A, although a Tudor allows for some twisting due to additional space behind the front bench.
Thing is, I have quite a few closed cars, so for me any car dating back to the first quarter of the 20th century has to be an open car, further enforced by the fact that we have fabulous weather here year round. I like T Tourings, which are readily available for sale, but strangely enough the A Phaeton is not only better looking, but also much more expensive.
An improved T almost looks like an A, yet it has the planetary 2-speed, only 2-wheel brakes (kind of) and only half the horsepower. Differently phrased, an early, black Model A looks almost like a late T, but has a 3-speed transmission which can be updated to a synchro or even modern 5-speed, has 4-wheel brakes which can easily updated to juice, and has twice the horsepower than a T.
Think about it!
I love, absolutely love the early Runabout with the low turtle deck (up to 1922). Can't tell you why; it's just unique. If I had been able to do this back then, around 1925, I would have created a Model V which would have been a Model T, 25% larger like a Dodge Model 30, with a 3-speed planetary and either the Model A engine or even a 6-cylinder. It would have cost 25% more, but it would have cut into competitors' markets without abandoning the underlying concept of the Model T.
Until the Model T, Ford always carried two and three models. In 1906 Ford offered the N, F and K. This gave the public the option of a cheap runabout (N - $500), a low priced touring (F - $1000) and the large 5 to seven passenger car (K - &2500).
I'm not sure why the T became the only model for so long, except that initially it was a good car with good hp to weight ratio that could be configured with many body styles.
I also am not sure where Lincoln fits in, but after the purchase of Lincoln Ford was back in the multi model business (sort of).
Rob - Pretty much conjecture on my part, but I'm pretty sure that if it was not for Henry's son Edsel, Ford would not have acquired Lincoln and the Lincoln might have totally died out like so many of the other hundreds of old auto manufacturers did!
It seems like the majority of the time, old Henry had contempt for Edsel and would not trust him with anything, so it is difficult to understand how Edsel could have convinced his old man to take on a semi luxury car line like Lincoln for him (Edsel) to run, unless Henry had momentary periods of guilt or benevolence, kindness, compassion and love toward Edsel during which FMC made genuine progress, before Henry would revert back to his old cantankerous self. Just think where Ford Motor Company would be today if Henry had been that way all the time. Jim Patrick
Increases in average human height are no more a matter of chance than increases in weight. Since the 1920s, US males have on average grown taller by about (2 ½ inches)from 5' 6 1/2" and their average weight (including blacks and Latinos) has massively increased from 65 to 85 kilograms.. Europeans have also grown much taller. Many think it is due to better diets and medicines and living conditions. Also in 1920 the average height for Women was around 5" 1". So when the Model T was built Men and Women were shorter than today.
. . . which is why there's a seat bracket available on the aftermarket, allowing the seat of an A to be moved backward by . . . an inch-and-a-half or so. No such luck when it comes to the Tee . . .
Do i see a different day but the same message?Bud.
I have both an 1913 Model T and a 1930 Model A (both Tourers although of course the A is correctly called a Phaeton) I love both. The T is great fun to drive and I drive it every opportunity I can get! However if you are talking about a three hour drive in modern traffic then the A is the car I would normally opt for .
I guess I sorta reflect Karl & Bernard, having both T's and an A. (in my sick humor I always tell my friends every guy needs a "little T and A" now and then!)....but seriously, they both have their place in the auto society. Yes, I think the T is more fun to drive (after finally getting acclimated to it) but as Karl said, sometimes especially on a busy highway, the Model A is a bit better option. And for our dog, she loves the A as it's easier for her to hop into! Plus, I don't let her in the T's anyway,(I have 4 of 'em-bitten bad by this affliction) as she'd scratch the hell out of the running boards and/or splash apron trying to jump in anyway. And of course in the cold spring/late fall weather here in Ohio, the closed A sure beats all my T's which are open. Guess my next T will be a coupe! My favorite T is certainly the '12 roadster pickup, followed by the '20 Runabout for sure. May end up eventually selling the TT firetruck in favor of a 2 or 4 door T. No more room in the barn.
I have had a model A since I was in college and the model T for about 6 years. The difference between the two is that I got laid in the A. That was a LONG time ago when my joints were more flexible.
I have no research to justify this statement, but I feel one reason that Henry Ford bought Lincoln was so that, in his way, he could look down his nose at Henry Leland.
I don't even know if Henry Leland were still living at the time of the sale of Lincoln to Ford; what I do remember reading was that Leland was a consummate engineer, capable of producing parts within 1/100,000 of an inch tolerance.
As far as Model A's go, and I want to state that my first love was a '31 Chevrolet Five-Window Coupe that my parents bought me when I was 16 (yes, I do still have it!) that they are just don't ring my bell.
Every so often, I'll mention that my hobby is antique cars, and that Model T's are my "thing". I'm then told that a friend/family member has a Model T, and when I go see it, invariably, it's a Model A. I won't say I'm disappointed, no, but slightly let down, yes, when it turns out to be an A. Does this happen to anyone else?
I think you may be correct in some respects.
However, I think Henry knew a bargain when he saw one. In the post WWI financial down (1919-1920)turn Lincoln Motor Company was that bargain. Plus Henry knew Edsel wanted to do more in the luxury car market. This purchase gave him the opportunity to give Edsel a gift(and maybe distract him from messing with improving his beloved Model T) and give the auto buying public notice that the Ford Motor Co. could produce both the car for the everyman and a fine luxury car for the select to compete with Cadillac, Packard, Pierce and others.
Leland was very much alive when the sale went through and he and his son were kept on but Henry knew it wouldn't last and they left after something like 6 months.
I do forget, did Leland come on to Cadillac after Henry left back around 1900 or '01??
They knew each other and had a history and Henry knew the level of skill Leland had as a designer and engineer. He also knew that Leland didn't like Ford and his Lizzy as common and not to his standards.
I've read that Henry Leland was brought into Henry Ford Company (soon to be Cadillac) because Henry Ford was consumed with building and racing cars (although a person is able to read about anything they choose when it comes to Ford). Henry Leland was twenty years older than Henry Ford, and there is a video showing both Henry s' at the contract signing when Ford bought the failing Lincoln company.
The first half of this video shows Henry Leland and Ford, along with footage of Edsel. Included are many photos of beautiful Lincoln cars:
Rob,Is my forty years with ford by Sorenson that detailes Fords treatment of Leland? It need to be taken with a grain of salt though! Bud.
I think Henry bought Lincoln for two reasons. First to be able to fire the guy who was very critical of him at the Henry Ford Co (later Cadillac). Ford certainly must have relished the idea of being able to fire Leland and Leland's son.
Second so he could move Edsel out of the presidency at Ford Motor Company. I don't think Edsel was ever truly in charge at Fomoco in the teens and early twenties. This move simply put Henry officially back in charge.
Lincoln was always a marginal operation in terms of being viable until Henry II came into power after WWII. It remained a stylish and impressive yet unprofitable operation in most years up until perhaps the Kennedy administration came to power. Lincoln cars were stylistically important and certainly impressive in every respect except making profits.
Rob, have you done a side-by-side comparison of the Ford K and the Lincoln K?
How did Lincoln arrive at K?