Here is a mystery, a 34 year old puzzle as to how a pair of locally famous 1914 Model T Touring cars can disappear without a trace. My interest has turned from a casual curiosity into a quest, a potentially fun detective story. Everybody loves a mystery, I hope the forum experts can help provide some clues.
Richard Coors of San Leandro California, was a very interesting car person, with an eclectic mix of automobiles in his collection, among them a 1935 Ford Cabriolet, a 1930 Studebaker 4 door Sedan, and a 60ís vintage Excalibur. With his foresight he had acquired a stable of about 20 1965 Ford Mustang convertibles.
All of his cars had one thing in common, they were VERY low mileage, completely original condition, usually one-owner cars that had been parked in barns and garages for extended time periods. Rich really loved searching for barn finds and otherwise unknown cars.
His most prized cars were his twin 1914 Model T Touring cars. The cars were twins in the sense that they most likely came out of the factory on the same day, since they were almost exactly 100 engine serial numbers apart, they were probably shipped to a single dealer since they were both found near Santa Rosa California (several years apart). Amazingly, they both survived in completely original condition with VERY low mileage, one with about 4000 miles and the other around 7000 miles as I remember. The 4000 mile car apparently had never been driven at night since there was no evidence that the headlights had ever been used. We were always astounded at the improbability of one person ending up with both of these cars.
My older brother Ward and I came to know Rich when we became interested in Model A Fords, in the early 1970ís. We were just graduating from high school and entering college, we had no money, and used our paper route savings to buy a couple of Aís. Rich lived a couple of miles away from us, and we enjoyed going over and talking cars, accompanying him on outings, and listening to him describe other cars that only he knew about that were still in garages or barns, just waiting for the day when the owners would finally sell to him. I fondly remember following him in one of his 1965 Mustangs as he drove one of the Tís to enter it in the Oakland Roaster (Hot Rod) Show, I think he relished showing everyone at the show what a real 1914 T looked like, without the big engines and flashy paint.
Rich also had a very weak heart requiring a lot of medications, so he was not a healthy person. By 1979, my brother had relocated to Arizona, I graduated from college, and two weeks after starting my first real job, Richard Coors died. He was 46 years old. For whatever reason, it was a few weeks before the news reached the old car community, but the response was the same, somebody has to buy the 2 Model Tís to keep them together. I was in no financial position to act, I tried to talk my parents into it, called my brother, talked to friends, however nothing would have made a difference, by the time the news had spread, the entire collection had vanished. His widow was not a car enthusiast and, in my opinion, probably had plans to sell them even before Rich had died. Nobody seemed to know what happened to her either, she is not a part of this search.
In the past 34 years, any time I meet a Model T enthusiast I always relate the story of Richard Coors and his twin cars, I have never met anyone who has the slightest clue as to where they went. Recently, my brother purchased a two owner 1911 Model T Touring and I my across-the-hall co-worker, Jim, has a 1913 Model T Touring. All of the sudden, thoughts of the twins are back. Jim started asking around at local club meetings, which included the legendary Ed Archer from nearby Hayward California, a man who also knew Richard Coors. Still no leads.
One of the cars is featured in the book ďFrom Here to ObscurityĒ, by Ray Miller and Bruce McCalley, June 1971, in the section on 1914 Touring. The engine number of the car is 367926, so the engine number of the twin car is close to either 367826 or 368026. The date of the engine stamping is 10/16/13, making both cars just over 100 years old. Finally, at that time the car had California Horseless Carriage license plate 721. I have already asked the California DMV about the status of the plates, they were not helpful, so I donít even know if the car is still in California or if the two cars are together.
My name is Bill Sherwood, I live in Pleasanton California, and I am interested in any information pertaining to these cars. Now that I have a little more money, I would love to own one or both of them, but first things first. The best way to reach me is by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for the help, and I hope you enjoyed my story.
The lack of DMV help comes as no surprise. When I tried to track down some history on an old car thirty years ago I found they kept records going back only a few years.
See Hap Tucker's comments in this post. Maybe one of his suggestions will help you track them down.
DMV has more than they want to admit. My parents bought a new Mustang in 1968 and lost the title. In 2000 they sent in for a replacement for it. I was told that nothing would register if a car had not been plated in 10 years because the records are deleted from the files. Not only did they find a record of the 1968 title but they had to go back to the original bank and get the lien released from the title before they could get a copy of it. After all that my Dad signed it over to me since I had been the owner since 1981 anyway. He passed away a couple months later and we found the original title in the lock box where all of us had looked several times. The records are not in a computer so they don't want to look for them, at least in Indiana anyway.
I found a picture of Richard Coors prepping one of the 14s for judging. He liked to wipe every trace of oil or grease from the chassis when the car was on display. As I recall, this event was either an AACA or more likely an HCCA gathering at the Edgewater Inn in Oakland, CA in the early 1970s.
That looks like a totally restored car, not a low mileage original.
Does he not know if you have a model T your wardrobe consists of mostly black or dark colours. At least mine does!
His outfit may start out white but I bet it doesn't stay that way.
Great looking car. Has judging gotten more strict since 1970's or have they eased up or is it about the same ?
Royce, you are correct about the restoration, however when Rich acquired the car it was a 4000 mile original. The headlights and gas lamps were unused. Times have changed. Today it wouldn't be prudent to restore such an original early car.
The only advantage to having a restored low mileage car that was in good condition over a basket case is it was cheaper to restore the good car, in the end, they are the same.