I am wondering what the best car would be to start my first restoration. I have grown up around T's and my whole family has them and I feel that its time to start my own and am curious to which would be easiest and why it would be. Thanks all!
A 26 Roadster, Simple, no wood and since its all metal there is not near the deterioration.
That is the age i was thinking 26-27 we have a roadster pickup body that we are planning on making into a good running T soon maybe that will be the project.
I would strongly recommend that you find a Model T that is in at least fair running condition and has some accessories already installed. Examples of accessories are Rocky Mountain or Sure-Stop brakes, and a Ruckstell rear end. By getting two Model T's that were like that, I saved myself and enormous amount of money and work.
If you like to work on T's you will still have PLENTY to do! Trust me. Even after buying partially restored cars and then doing the rest myself, it still took 4-5 years in each case and roughly $10 - $20k.
I agree with Dave above that '26-'27 cars are a good place to start.
Regards and good luck,
Thanks for the info!
If you (or anybody else) will send me an e-mail address in a private message, I will e-mail back, in Microsoft Word format, a Model T first-time buyers' guide with photos.
Better yet than a production bodied T; if you're really a novice with little or no body, upholstery, and mechanical skills; either build a speedster or a wooden bodied hack or delivery truck. Speedster bodies can be bought or made with a wood frame covered with canvass and coated with fiberglass. A crude wooden body for a delivery or hack can be made by almost anyone with minimum carpentry skills. Either way, the more skills you have; the better the end result will be. With a speedster, you can save money by going fenderless if your state laws allow.
Thanks, I am not that much of a novice, I know a bit about T's and I am also mechanically inclined and can do fabrication as well. I think a speedster would be awesome and a lot of fun. my grandpa has a '10 speedster what an awesome car
Against the odds, I restored my first antique car from a barely running, but mostly complete, Model A Town Sedan. Most people will tell you to not try to restore a car unless you have one to drive while restoring the other one. While I did not do it that way, I feel it is indeed sound advice. Too many people get into a restoration and get disheartened and never finish. I have no desire to do another restoration. We have two unrestored T's that are much more fun to us than our fully restored Model A. My next one will likely be be another unrestored T. I like that unrestored look and they are a lot more fun to drive than to restore, at least in my opinion.
i agree with the more fun to drive part. I was in the T all weekend!
Do the car you have a passion for. I like trucks, don't care for brass, DO NOT like the reworked appearance of the 26-27 cars. So, a 16-25 truck it was ! When you really like something, you are far more inclined to do what it takes to get it done and will enjoy it that much more.
Yea i like all t's I would have to think long and hard to narrow down a favorite! Thanks for the advice
If it is your first car and want to get a running car quicker and probably cheaper, go with the advice on a speedster or depot hack. Before launching down the road of buying a '26-'27 (I have two '26 cars: one driver, one project), do some leg work and see what is most available in your area for components. Just about everything is more expensive to buy for the Improved cars on the parts market than for some of the 20's black cars. You'll pay a premium for things like fenders, split rims, engines, and even rear axles for those models than earlier ones. Your bank account will thank you.
How tall are you? At 6', I either stretch to look over the windshield on a black era car, or duck under.
How wide are you? I felt cramped sitting in a Model A, and expect the Improved Ford to be the same size.
Pardon my ignorance, ... I am new to T restoration, but is an "improved car" the 26-27 ?
Yes, that's what Ford called it. A last-ditch effort to stave off the inevitable with General Motors breathing down his neck.
I agree a late black era car before 1926 ('23, '24, '25) would be best from a cost standpoint. But it also depends on what you like best.
I agree that it is very easy to get the T or old car bug, and if you get bogged down in a long restoration, you'll be wishing you had something to drive before you can finish the first project. This very thing happened to me in the sixties.
I, finally, talked my father into restoring my grandfather's 27 coupe in the summer of 1965. The car needed a complete mechanical overhaul; complete interior; and so much body work that we would have saved ourselves time and money by buying another car, but this was a family heirloom.
In the Fall of 1966, I started off to college, with no end in sight for the coupe. I was going to college about 100 miles from home, so I worked with my Dad on it every chance I got. In the summer of 1968, I changed colleges to one that was over 300 miles from home, meaning my Dad had to carry on the bulk of the work, but he didn't mind. It was then that I just couldn't wait to finish the car. I heard about a 23 depot hack located about 100 miles from my home and I could afford it. I talked my Father into having a custom built open trailer made and I took the hack to college with me. This was in the middle of the muscle car years, and every college male who could afford a new muscle car, had one. I didn't need one. On any afternoon before dark, I could drive my hack down the street past the girl's dorms; honk the horn a few times, and I'd have more girls running to get in than the hack could comfortably seat.
In 1970, when I graduated from college, I sold the hack for a profit and bought a nice driver 1916 touring. By that time, my Dad and I had finished the 27 coupe. My Dad drove it and I drove the 16 touring.
I don't think that the year of the T matters as much as starting with a pretty complete car. Tracking down parts is very time consuming. If you can't find a good deal on a complete running car, I'd suggest building a speedster. That way, you can get on the road before your enthusiasm runs put. Once you're driving your own Model T around town and on tours, you'll be surprised at how soon your next T enters your life.
Over the years, I've become partial to the earlier Ts. There's no starter or generator to mess with and they have more leg room than the later ones. Since I'm 6'4" and not exactly slender, I really appreciate that. I owned a '27 Coupe for a few months and sold it, largely because it had very little leg room compared to my '14.
I would say that the easiest restoration would be a '26-27 in any body style except the Fordor. All Model T's, prior to 1926 had a wooden frame to which the body panels were nailed. 1926 was the year Ford did a major design change on the Model T and introduced the improved all steel body for all body styles, except the Fordor. The 1926 Fordor, for whatever reason consisted of the 1925 wooden framed Fordor except it had the new 1926 fenders.
Restoring a pre-1926 Model T may not be too difficult, if the wood is solid, but if the wood frame is rotten, it can be a major undertaking, especially if you do not have any wood working experience or tools with which to make the complex multi-angled joints necessary. They do make wood frame kits for various years, but I have heard that they sometimes do not fit properly since the body wood was custom made and unique to each car. Jim Patrick
Try to find the best and most complete car regardless of year. Yes the 26-27 open cars are the easiest, but $ for $ spent, you will get most for your money if you find the best car to start with. It is important to look at the structural integrety rather than must the cosmetic appearance. Some cars which look beautiful at first glance are full of rust and rot. Others which are completely full of surface rust don't have very much rustout. So just look at a lot of cars before you start.
The cost of your personal labor will be better repaid if you do a brass car. They're more comfortable to drive and more valuable when done. All for the same effort. I own several T's including a nice '13. I'm restoring a '23 and for the time/effort, would much prefer that it had been brass rather than black, at this point.
And buy the best car you reasonably can...the more you spend on a good car, the less it will cost you in the long run. For the time being, Ts are still dirt cheap compared to comparably aged vehicles.
The complete restoration of a Model T is a labor of love for the sheer enjoyment of doing it. It is not by any means a money making investment. Virtually everyone that restores a Model T and needs to sell it, does so at a loss.
If possible, buy a completely restored Model T. They are out there for much less than what it would cost to restore one. Model T's are about the least expensive 1910's to 1920's car, there is and it is almost impossible to recoup the money in parts and labor you spend on a complete body off restoration. Let someone else do the work and you can just enjoy it.
I suppose the decision to buy brass or black or improved depends on the person. I am old enough to remember seeing Model T's driving by my house every day. And when we went to town there were T's either being driven or parked. The first T I remember riding in was a 25 black pickup. I don't remember seeing any brass ones, though. The ones I remember most were almost all painted black. I suppose I saw some improved, but the open cars look quite a bit like the Model A. The closed ones, though have a completely flat top, unlike the Model A. So because of my memories, I prefer to own either black or improved. Some are more concerned with the age or the resale value. The brass ones are both older and more valuable. However, some of the correct original parts are also very hard to find and are more costly.
I prefer the brass cars. It has been what I have grown up riding in and now driving. Thanks for the advice I hope to get something going here in the not so distant future.
I would be less concerned with resale value. Most members here, especially those who spend years and countless hours and resources restoring their car (like me), become so attached to their T's that it is almost considered a member of the family and they would never consider selling it. The people who usually wind up benefitting from the sale of a T are the heirs who inherit the car after the owner passes on to that great Model T car lot in the sky. Jim Patrick
All the above advice is sound. I only add my agreement to getting one that is not a basket case. Also if it is 26 or a little earlier, you just need to fall in love with it. That is the one you should buy.
Find one in your family that isn't being driven, and offer to license and maintain it in exchange for driving privileges.
I learned from a late neighbor, "It's better to have the use of something than to own it."
Not being a rust bucket guy the soundest advice I've seen here is a reasonably complete car/decent paint. Preferably from an old timer whose getting out of the hobby. Best prices in that case. Not wild about brass because of the higher price. '23/4/5 would be my choice. Body style? Touring or Roadster. Had a '27 Tudor. Confining for a 6' 1" guy & possibly more to do. DO NOT jump at the first car you see and whatever you do bring along one of those knowledeable T family members when looking.
I'll go along with Charlie. The 23-5 T's are the easiest to find parts for, and that is the year they picked for the Ford Service Book too. I think it is a 1924 touring.
I would start by setting yourself an honest budget. And which ever car you decide to do make sure it runs well, drives well. Also take a model to club member with you when you look at cars! I failed on the budget part, and have become a tad carried away, Im building a little brass runabout/speedster. Oh yeah, also give yourself and honest time frame and remember that everything will in fact be 1/3 more expensive than you thought it would be. Dont get discouraged and hang out around other model ts to keep motivated!
LOL David, it's more like take whatever your most over-the-top, no expense spared guess at what you think it will cost, now double that amount, and with that doubled amount, multiply it by 1.3. THAT, might, sort of, maybe be in the ball park of how much money you will end up spending. Also, time frames are for guys with money to burn. The rest of us just have to prioritize what we want and then save and wait. =)
Thats what I was trying to say, its gonna take a long time and cost ya....Im at six years now, for a model t?
It's difficult to determine which vintage and what condition of Model T to recommend to you without knowing more about your mechanical background. Where are you among the following levels of expertise (and can you guess into which category I fall)?
Mechanical aptitude — Can change oil, grease the cups and fill the oilers, clean & lube a timer, grease steering case, adjust parking brakes, run turn-signal wires behind interior panels without disturbing them and solder the connections, replace a brake-light switch, replace radiator hoses, stain & varnish a steering wheel, own jack-stands, know that ice is better on a burned finger than cold running water because ice allows you to walk around.
Mechanical aptitude plus being raised by a Greatest Generation Dad who taught you to fix your own bicycle in the 1960s because a kid on a 50˘-per-week allowance can’t afford a repair shop — Add to the above: Clean and repack front wheel bearings, pull rear wheels and install axle shims, hot-patch a punctured inner tube and remount the tire without re-puncturing the inner-tube, adjust transmission bands, remove, grease and re-install steering column shaft, lap steering case gears, adjust toe-in, replace a busted mag post because you over-tightened the stupid jam-nut, remove broken screws or bolts with an “easy-out,” replace a timer, overhaul a carburetor correctly on the second attempt after reading the instructions, trouble-shoot a balky ignition system, coordinate the relative adjustment of transmission brake, Rocky-Mountain brakes and parking brakes, own an angle-grinder and be afraid of it, know that a stud is not necessarily a male horse.
Semi-professional mechanic — Add to the above: Replace spindle bushings, install a high-compression head, replace and re-time valves, replace cast-iron pistons with aluminum pistons, replace leaf-springs, replace early, over-the-axle wishbone with later, under-the-axle wishbone, dismount, overhaul and re-install a complete rear end, overhaul a transmission, remove engine and send it out for overhaul, build a wooden-spoke wheel, own a lathe, understand volumetric efficiency and the geometry, math and physics of camshaft performance.
Master mechanic — Add to the above: Overhaul an engine to better-than-new specs, pour babbitt, fabricate parts from billet, create and machine forgings and gears, understand women.
How about this one 5500.00 firm, Bob
Wow, Bob! I'm almost a master mechanic. If only, I can learn to understand women. So far, I've gotten by on the theory that some things are best enjoyed without full understanding.
Robert, I'm surprised that you still have that. It's a bargain.
HAHAHAHAHHAA Bob based on your criteria I can definitively say there are NO master mechanics ANYWHERE. Maybe there are some folks who do most on that list and lie about the last part. =)
I'd say I'm between Mechanical Aptitude Plus and Semi-Professional, mainly because I don't own a lathe.