I think it is a 15. Right?
Clearly NOT a 1912 or for that matter a 1914 or earlier as they all the Ford USA factory bodies came with the wooden cheery dash board/firewall and hoods without louvers.
The Bulb horn and what appears to be brass headlamp rims [possibly also tarnished brass on the side lamps] would date it as 1915. All the USA 1916 models should have come with the electric horn ref: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/doc15.htm
OCT 16, 1915 Acc. 575, Box 19, Ford Archives
Electric horns specified for all 1916 cars. Notes that 10,000 electric horns were used in 1915 but the wording is such that there may have been more.
Nice accessory wheels – but the prevent us from knowing if it originally had USA 30 x 3 or Canadian 30 x 3 1/2 wheels up front.
Notice also that it has what appears to me to be a lower hinge on the driver's door. But the upper hinge does not appear as clearly? Scraped paint on the false door? Or could this be a Canadian produced Town Car?
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It is a 1915 town car. All 1915 town cars have a driver side door, US made or not. You have to be small, spry, and determined to use it though.
Here is a similar car, photographed in 1965 at a car show. This one was restored by good friend Dwight Madsen in the 1950's.
1915 towncars had a drivers side doors. That is why the horn bulb is mounted to the steering column and not to the body.
My opinion is that the photo was taken in the late 1920s or early 1930s and the foliage indicates California, probably Los Angeles or Orange County.
It appears that Harry Wright was advertising the car was available for publicity stunts.
Here's Jim Finney's 1915 town car:
Body number stamped in the seat frame:
I don't believe the photo you posted is Dwight's car.
The photo I posted above is a more recent photo of Dwight's car. Note the varnished wood trim and the brass intercom horn (driver's side, near the roof) and lack of pinstriping. The car was painted at Warren Cadillac and the body is a very dark Cadillac blue.
When Dwight owned the car, he also had varnished wheels and, at one time, wire wheels on the car but not painted wheels. He also had a wicker caned insert beneath the passenger door windows. (After Bill Praus bought it, he detailed the chassis, installed correct and painted wheels and removed the caning in the door.)
I think you sent me those pictures, or possibly your dad. The digital image is titled "Dwight Madsen Town Car 1965 at OCF" and not by me.
I got left by my dad and Dwight in Dwight's town car at a car show when I was about 5 years old. I fell asleep on the way to the car show, so they left me in the car and went walking around. When I woke up all these scary people were looking through the windows at me! I still remember that car quite well, and like you I remember it having natural wheels.
Here's the other image:
From the Encyclopedia
The Town Car is interesting. Ford’s existing records show that none were built during fiscal 1915 (August 1914 to August 1915). Also, Ford generally referred to cars built during a fiscal year as models of that year. 1915 is certainly an exception to this rule, since the cars built during 1914, except for the Sedan and Coupelet, were definitely 1914’s. Apparently there were enough unsold 1914 Town Cars to last through the first part of calendar 1915, and the “1915” models were actually built in fiscal 1916 (August 1915 to August 1916). It is also possible the existing Ford records (a relatively recent compilation) are in error. Interestingly, though, of the existing “1915” Town Cars we know of, all are dated late in the year.
I don't have those photos. They look like they were scanned from slides.
I presume "OCF" is the Old Car Festival in Greenfield Village. I don't believe Dwight ever brought the car there but Bill brought it there for many years.
I recently went through all of my dad's antique car slides because I am starting to scan them and I don't recall pictures like those or anything from Dearborn. I think my dad has been to the OCF once and I believe that was in the 1950s when he was in the military.
Based on old photos, Dwight's/Bill's car never looked like that regarding the paint scheme. Frank Kelly owned the car for a short period before Dwight and had done the initial restoration. If I remember correctly, Dwight had it painted dark blue to match the original color and that would have definitely occurred before 1960 (I'm thinking it was 1956 or 1958). Frank Kelly was probably the one who varnished the exposed woodwork.
Maybe Caspar or Rich Ness ( on Casper's behalf) sent them to me? Not sure. I think Dwight traded it to Frank Kelly around 1962, certainly before we moved to Texas in '63. Frank was famous for doing things like adding lots of unnecessary brass or pinstriping to any car.
Probably Casper's photo - he was a professional photographer on the side. I would say it is definitely not Dwight's car.
Frank Kelly had the car before Dwight and Dwight sold it to Bill in the 1960s.
I have a scan of a black and white photo with Frank Kelly sitting in the car so I assume it was taken when Frank owned it. It had wire wheels including a spare on the back, the cane insert and carriage lamps on the door posts, the telephone intercom and a windshield mounted spotlight.. Based on other photos, Dwight kept it that way for a while but replaced the wires with varnished wood (without looking at the photos I believe he used square felloe wheels) and removed the carriage lamps and spotlight.
I'm still not sure who had the car painted at Warren Cadillac. In the black and white Frank Kelly photo, the paint job just doesn't look that good (he may have done it himself).
Bill was the one who made the effort to put the car back into a more authentic state in the late 1960s by re-restoring and detailing the running gear. The rest of the car he left alone.
I wonder whether Ford may have continued putting the more dressy brass trim rings on headlights and oil lamps for a while into the 1916 model year, on the more expensive cars. Those would be the Town car, Sedan, and Coupelet.
Of course it's difficult to say definitively, but lots of "old" pictures of those cars have the brass trim, even though they were '16 model cars. It's often difficult to determine how old an "old" picture is, so those parts may have been replaced by an owner.
Eric and Royce,
Thank you both for sharing that the USA Town Cars had an opening driver's door. I did not have (or at least I could not find a copy) of one of those. Also fascinating how the history of some of those cars has been tracked for so long.
Note on page 65 of "The Model T" by Robert C. Kreipke [another recommended T book] it shows a photo of a 1915 Town car that does not appear to have an opening driver's door. See the cropped version below. [I’m working to stay within the fair use – educational use – so I am showing the area with the dummy door.]
On page 70 of Clymer’s book “Henry’s Wonderful Model T” they have a photo of the same or similar Town Car, slightly different side view and again that photo appears to show a dummy door on the driver’s side. And yes in that photo the horn was mounted on the steering column as in the photo above.
Note on page 71 of Clymer’s book and page 201 of Bruce’s “Model T Ford” they show a photo of a 1915 roadster with a dummy door and the bulb horn mounted on the steering column. That car is an early 1915 with the early E&J style side lamps and larger headlamp buckets. I believe a rear shot of the same roadster is shown on page 590 of his book and it shows the 1913-1914 style rear axle as well as the very early 1915 style tail lamp. So at least one other car had a dummy driver’s door and the horn mounted on the steering column.
So there may have been one or two prototypes that did not have an opening driver’s door or perhaps even one of the Town Car body makers produced a few of them that way?
Royce – do you know which body maker produced Jim Finney’s 1915 town car that you showed the riveted cowl and the body number for? I would guess Fisher based on the riveted cowl – but that is only a guess on my part. Also the low resolution photo of the body number is a little hard to read. Could you post and/or send a higher resolution or can you confirm what the body number is? I think I see 67982 but I suspect you may have it written down or have a higher resolution copy you can confirm or correct that.
Again, thank you both for sharing the photos and additional information.
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I have Never seen a 1915 Towncar that had a dummy Drivers Door.
I'll send you some photos of Our Towncar taken back in 1915, and some more recent ones.
Gee Don, do you have to call it a "dummy door"? That's the side I sit on.
Thanks! I'll file that F7982 body number under Fisher and Jim Finney’s 1915 town car.
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Thank you for sending me the photos of your Town Car. The only time a I saw a 1915 town car was a long time ago when I visited Harrah’s Automobile Museum. And back then with film cameras I didn’t take a lot of photos.
I think I found another puzzle piece to the “dummy door” (sorry Dave – that’s what I have heard it called for years. But it wasn’t until your posting that it dawned on me they might be referring to me as the driver.). Below is the illustration from the 1915 “Ford Enclosed Cars” brochure. We know that we cannot use an illustration to “prove” something, as many of them were “touched up” and many of them have some errors somewhere in them. On page 199 of Bruce’s book “Model T Ford” he shows some of the illustrations from the Apr 1915 Ford sales catalog. He states, “Most illustrations were retouched photos, and Ford used the same pictures in later catalogs when the differences were minor….” So now the illustration:
Note it does not show the hinges – which could be an artist over sight. But when you compare it to the photo of the town car with the dummy driver’s door [complete photo on the web at: http://www.caranddriver.com/photos-10q1/338131/1915-ford-model-t-town-car-photo-338178 but I am still currently cropping it to avoid potential copyright issues (note they have about 13 other nice Model T photos at that location)]
Note that all three of the visible tire valve stems are in the same location in the photo and also in the sales brochure. And the back wheel does not show a valve stem in the photo or the illustration. I think the probability of three valve stems ending up in the same location is very slim. I highly suspect that the illustration was made from that photo shot. The top is down in the illustration and I suspect more than one photo was taken. Note also that on page 70 of Clymer’s book “Henry’s Wonderful Model T” the same car or very similar one is photographed with the top down. But the valve stems are in different locations for that photo indicating the car was moved or perhaps a different car.
But I do believe that it shows that at least 1 of the 1915 Town Cars came with a dummy driver’s door. I do not know if it was a single prototype or if they made a few additional ones. For the 1908 Model S Town cars it appears they made at least 2 of them and they had the plans drawn up for the body etc. But not many were made and none survive that I currently know of.
Also of interest – notice the illustration does not show a bulb horn – and in the photo it has one.
I wonder if the artist was directed to “illustrate” a 1915 style electric horn button of it was just a random item left on the steering column by the illustrator?
Does anyone know when the “Ford Enclosed Car” brochure came out?
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Just thinking out loud.
The town car in the photo is in primer.
If you could strike a print from the original glass negative (as the Benson Center used to do upon request for a fee), using a magnifying glass you could see more details. For example, to me, the electric headlights do not look like headlights that were actually used in production. Note that the sidelights do not have bulls-eye lenses.
I doubt that the artist(s) or graphic designer(s) who were responsible for the lithographs in the catalogs and advertisements did them free hand. The process probably involved direct tracing or direct inking of a photograph which was re-photographed to create the printing plates (I believe this is called photoengraving). That style of lithograph was very common for illustration and not unique to Ford Motor Company. A person who is knowledgeable about the process could probably explain it in simple and elegant terms.
The photograph and catalog lithograph above are at slightly different angles and, as you have noted, the top is down in the lithograph. There was probably more than one photograph taken of that car but the negative or print from the same session that was used to create the catalog lithograph have probably been misplaced or simply do not survive.
If a second photograph from a slightly different angle with the top down was not used as the basis for the lithograph in the catalog, the artist would have been one heck of a draftsman to create the drawing.
The difference in the steering column (bulb horn vs horn button) and hinges on the drivers door were probably revisions made made by the illustrator. Those could have been done using drafting techniques or free hand.
Here's an earlier thread showing a 1916 Town car in a Swedish museum (the engine was assembled oct.22, 1915)- with an opening drivers door:
Forgive me if you already mentioned it but, the rear door must be a dummy too as there are no hinges shown on it either, (in the brochure version). Obviously it was not a dummy door but it does illustrate what you have already indicated; you can't trust period printed sales brochures and images.
Good observation and a good reason to have more eyes look at a photo.
I have looked at the Towncar illustration many times and never noticed the No Hinges on the Passenger Door
Erik, As I remember, Dwight told me personally that the Town Car was painted at Warren Cadillac. It could have been Frank. I remember when the three Ts were found up near (I think) Park Rapids, MN. in the mid 1950s. Don Carlson bought the 1910 Roadster. Jerry Glubke the 1913 Touring with the fold down front seat. The 1910 was sold again 20 years ago and probably went out of state. The 1913 is still here in the Twin Cities. Frank Kelly bought the 1915 Town Car. I was under the impression at that time that all the restoration work was done after Dwight bought the car. Frank did some, if not most all of the work on the restoration.