A friend of mine visited a car museum in Sacramento California last weekend and showed me a picture he took of a model t coupelet with gas head lamps.
The top does not have the porthole windows so that would make it a 14 or 15. The question is did Ford produce a 14 coupelet or did 15's come with gas head lamps?
I'll post a picture later when I get home.
Pre-production photos were taken in Sep 1914 ref: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/doc14.htm
All the below are 1914 calendar year:
SEP 23 Acc. 509, Letter, Ford Archives
Sedan and Coupelet announced.
SEP 23 Acc. 833, Photo 1527, Ford Archives
Photo of 1915 Coupelet. Shows fork-mounted electric headlamps.
SEP 23 Acc. 833, Photo 1528, Ford Archives
Photo of same Coupelet, rear view, shows 1914 rear axle.
SEP 23 Acc. 833, Photo 1621, Ford Archives
Photo of 1915 Sedan. Fork-mounted headlamps and lantern-like side lamp. Curved front and rear fenders.
SEP 23 Acc. 833, Photo 1546, Ford Archives
Photo of 1915 Sedan with gas headlamps.
SEP 23 Acc. 833, Photo 1470, Ford Archives
Photo of 1915-style Touring with odd post-mounted electric headlamps, no louvers in the hood, brass steering wheel spider and 1914-type steering gear box.
SEP 23 Acc. 833, Photo 1633, Ford Archives
Photo of 1915 Touring, now with louvered hood.
Note none of those coupelet photos had gaslamps -- but it would be easy to remove the electric and replace with the gas.
Also -- the 1915 headlamps were not as reliable as the earlier gas lamps. I.e. if you over-rev'd the engine the bulb would burn out. They were wired in series and if one bulb went out they both went off. So some folks would have gone back to the gas lamps.
Additionally Henry Ford was filmed in an earlier preproduction Ford coupelet model. Thank you to Royce for posting that previously. There was a link to a Biography site. I Googled it but my browser would not display the video. A still is shown below:
To my knowledge we do not have any documentation to support that Ford's normal USA production used gas lamps on the 1915 style cars. But if you have some documentation, we would welcome adding that to the limited information we have access to. There is always more to discover or rediscover.
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Here is the picture, not the best.
This might work better, cut and paste.
Thank you for posting the photo. If it were a photo of Coupelets or even a single Coupelet coming off the assembly line that would be an outstanding new reference point. We have several photos of cars on the assembly lines. And we are fairly confident that they were assembled that way at that time. Of course even some of those photos show a "one-off" car -- for example the light colored engine in the 10,000,000 Model T. But the car in front and behind it have the normal engine look.
In the case of the photo you posted it appears to be a restored car. Which still could add some data points if there is some history on the car etc. I.e. when found did it have the gas lamps etc. The brass Ford script on the radiator core would not normally be in the original production. I would guess that the restorer added the gas lamps as well as the Ford script on the radiator core. Both look nice on a car. In the case of Ghost a Dec 1914 Centerdoor, it still had the headlamp forks but no headlamps when it was found by my Father back in the 1950s. I suspect it originally had fork mounted electric headlamps. I have been searching for several decades for some documentation to support that “guess” but so far I have not found any clear documentation that the normal USA production for 1915 model year cars used the fork mounted electric headlamps. Clearly the Canadian cars did (see: please see: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/24151.html ) but we still only have some “fossil” evidence that the USA normal production may have used the electric forked headlamps. So I continue to look for documentation to expand that information or to confirm it is correct. Both Bruce McCalley and Trent Boggess had their own opinions on if Ford USA did or did not use the fork mounted electric headlamps in early 1915 production. While they disagreed on the conclusion, they still enjoyed working together and promoting the hobby together.
By the way if the Coupelet is in a museum, if you can let us know which one, we might be able to obtain some additional information about the car from it’s current owner.
Thank you for sharing the photo and as you and others find additional information, please let us know, and I will be on the look out also.
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It is a great Museum
Thank you for the link. The museum also has some good ideas for teachers to use with their classes etc. I still think of it as the Towe Automobile Museum, but the current name is more descriptive of where it is located -- California Automobile Museum.
I like the scene of your 27 touring at the gas pump on your profile photo.
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Putting gas lamps on 1915 Fords was something that hobbyists did in the 1950s and 60s. We have a local '15 touring where the owner swapped out the original electric lamps with gas when he restored the car 50 years ago.
Just another game that was and still is played, just like transforming 1916 through 1920 Fords into a 1915s or the totally screwed up 1913 touring next to the coupelet in the photo.
Are you saying that is Henry Ford in the "straw katy" standing in front of the pre-production '15 coupelet in your picture? Interesting that the prestolite tank is on the right running board and the steering is left side
The still photo comes from the video at:
http://www.dvarchive.com/stock-footage/000-6710/henryfordandjohnburroughsgoforarideinamodelt[same video was also used by Biography.] It shows Henry Ford and John Burroughs getting into the prototype coupelet. Henry Ford is the driver. In the still below Henry Ford is getting into the car and will be followed by John Burroughs. But it is a little difficult to tell from the single frame that it is Henry Ford. Note also that the information on side panel says, “Henry Ford and John Burroughs go for a ride in a Model T in 1916.” But from a previous posting – the discussion indicated the license plate appears to be a 1914 plate.
And as discussed in previous postings, the windshield and fenders are different from the production coupelet.
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It's interesting that the prototype Coupelet has curved front fenders. I have a picture of a prototype '15 Sedan which has similar curved fenders, but without the "bill." (It too has gas headlamps and several other non-production features.)
Apparently Ford was toying with the idea of putting curved front fenders on its cars a couple of years before they actually did that. Since they were making so many other changes at that time, they probably figured that change was one expense they didn't need to add.
We may never know for certain, however I would speculate that is very likely. One cannot do everything at once, and a lot of change was being made in those few years.
Several old photos have been posted on this site over the years showing '15s through at least '17s with gas lamps. We know most of those cars did not leave the factory that way, so some people must have preferred gas lamps and changed them way back then.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Gas lamps are far brighter than magneto lamps and the motor does not have to be running in order to operate them.
Unless somebody has actually researched the matter, I question calling the car in the film a prototype. It simply may have been Henry Ford's personal automobile. If Henry wanted a Ford coupe or sedan when Ford Motor Company was not producing any, it's conceivable that would just have ordered/purchased a custom body.
If the above is true, the car may not have been intentionally built as a prototype but may have merely inspired the production coupelet after-the-fact.
Also, the convertible coupe body is not unique to Ford. Chalmers produced a Light Six Coupelet and Studebaker produced a Landau Roadster, both pre-dating the Ford Coupelet.
Just thinking out loud....
Erik -- Your theory seems plausible and may very well be correct. Of course Henry could have any automobile he wanted at that time.
I think most of us believe that it's a prototype Coupelet because it has many more similarities to the production Coupelet than it has differences. Also, these photos are from mid- to late-1914, which leads one to believe that they were part of Ford's production plans for the '15 model year. Since these bodies were outsourced from Fisher and put onto Ford chassis, the front fenders would have been part of the chassis package. The same was true of the Sedans, so I just thought that the curved fenders shown in both body styles were a part of Ford's thoughts about the future.
I'm not familiar with other cars from that time, but I always thought that the Coupelet bodies were something that Fisher was producing for other car makers. And I figured that Ford made some "tweaks" to whatever Fisher offered, so they would be a bit different from the other makes.
A while back, someone sent me some pics of a fold-down window cover similar to the ones on a Coupelet body. It was very similar, but not identical. It appeared to me that it probably was made by the same manufacturer, but for a different body. That piece may have been from a Chalmers or Studebaker as you mentioned above, or for some other car maker's similar application. Fisher made bodies for several car makers, as did several other companies. I'm sure they tried to use common parts when they could, but of course each car maker would want to have some distinctive individuality for their own brand.
Since I am currently restoring a '15 Coupelet, I have tried to learn all I can about them. The search is very frustrating, since Ford outsourced the bodies from Fisher, and there is no archival information available about them. The info in the Benson Research Center is sketchy at best, and there are no records for the Fisher Body Co. before GM acquired them in the 20's. Any little tidbit of information about the early Coupelets is very interesting, but most of that info is still subject to interpretation.
I shall continue my quest for information about the Coupelets, and I don't mind being questioned about my findings, since much of it is subjective. It's a shame that no one compiled all the details we are now looking for and wrote them down, back when folks who worked on the cars at the assembly plants were still alive to relate their experiences. All we can do at this point is to keep digging for pieces of the puzzle.