I was at a Steam and Gas Power show a couple of weeks ago with my 27 Roadster Pickup and a gentleman showed up in a decent 24 Tudor. He told me the body on his car was aluminum, you can just imagine the look of confusion on my face. After a bit of conversation I could tell he could see the doubt in my eyes. He pulled a magnet out of his pocket and went all around the car and the magnet would not stick to the car any where. I ask if I could see the magnet and he gladly handed it to me. I tried the magnet on my 27 and it stuck like glue. The Tudor is indeed metal, not fiberglas. I am somewhat perplexed.....can anyone shed any light on this for me? Thanks, Pat
Yes, many of the Tudor and Fordor bodies are aluminum. He was not fibbing!
Thanks Royce; goes to show we are never too old to learn something new! Are they a rarity or are they quite common?
I wonder what the weight difference is between an aluminum bodied Tudor and a steel bodied Tudor is?
Seth, not a huge amount I'm guessing but when you have only 20HP even 50lbs is a big deal.
Steve Jelf has an aluminum bodied fordor:
I have a '25 Fordor that has an aluminum body from the belt line up. I understand that there were 23's and some 24's with all aluminum from the cowl back. In past years I have periodically shown my Fordor at our local Ajo, AZ museum and did my "outside docent" bit, talking about Model T's and olden days travel etc. I found many people, including most Model T owners, are unaware of the "aluminum T's". I finally sanded off and polished a spot on the back of my T so people could see that it is really aluminum. With both aluminum and steel in the '25 body it is easy to peck on the aluminum, then the steel, to show folks the difference.
Unfortunately(or not)the aluminum cars are rare, particularly the Fordors due to their low initial production quantity but their value seems to be no different from all steel T's. If nobody knows, it's not of value. (does a tree make a noise when it falls in the forest?)
I will be interested in following this thread. Incidentally, it doesn't seem that the weight is significantly reduced by the aluminum but it would be interesting to weigh a 26' for comparison. I have the only Model T that I know about within a 100 mile radius so I won't be making the comparison.
This is a photo of our Canadian Fordor. Restored in the 1980's.
The upper back and quarter panels as well as all four doors are aluminium.
Regards, John Page , Australia.
John, that's a great look at the aluminum. I neglected to mention that the complete door skin is aluminum. Had mine in about that same condition during restoration.
My 24 Fordor has the aluminum body and doors, the lower back and cowl are steel.
Aluminum was also used in some of the early 1909 and 1910 touring cars. (body only, not the fenders
Knowing that Henry Ford was frugal, why would he have the same car bodies made of different metals? It would seem that double tooling up for such a difference would not be something he would do. Or, were the aluminum bodies not manufactured by Ford but some other supplier?
I know it's true that there are aluminum bodied T's, but it just seems odd to me. If a certain body type was all aluminum to save weight it would make sense, but that logic fails when you know some cars were steel and others of the same body type were aluminum.
Were the center doors built by Fisher and all of them aluminum?? Bud.
Could be that Henry Ford thought that the aluminium would be less of a stress on the body dies than steel, it would not have been for economy as aluminium is lighter in weight but dearer in price.
I was told many years ago about a snow job that Essex was doing, the demo cars had aluminium bodies so that the car would have plenty of power, but the one you ended up with when ordered was a heavier steel one, hence the nick name they had as the "gutless wonder"
The body of my May 1909 touring is aluminum, the body of my 1919 centerdoor is not aluminum. I have read that the early aluminum touring bodies discontinued in September 1909.
Yes, the 1915 model year Centerdoors were aluminum skinned including the cowl etc. They were the wood skeleton with the aluminum panels tacked on over them. Ref: http://www.mtfca.com/encyclo/1915-16H.htm scroll down to Sedan.
From the 1916 model year on the Centerdoors were steel panels over wood. Ref Bruce McCalley's "Model T Ford" page 287)
I was not aware that the Tudor style bodies were ever produced with the aluminum panels -- but there is always so much more to learn about our Fords.
And the shipping ledgers indicate the aluminum touring bodies built by Beaudett (at the same time they also built the normal wood bodies) were assembled on cars from at least Mar 3, 1909 car # 1,245 (possibly earlier as the records do not exist for car #2 through #1,118) ref page 478 Bruce's book to Sep 20, 1909 car # 10,600. Bruce added a note to his abbreviated listing "No aluminum bodies listed after Sep 1909.) And as far as we know only Beaudett offered the aluminum paneled touring body.
One other reason the aluminum bodied cars are so scarce – a lot of folks pulled the aluminum off for the scrap price when they became clunkers/broke down. There is a great story in one of the national magazines where someone shares their tale about taking the skin off to sell….
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I was on the scrap drives during WWII. Anything aluminum was special because of the acute need by the aircraft industry. An aluminum bodied T would be fair game, one would be un-patriotic not to let the scrap drive people throw a non-running aluminum T on the collection truck. It's OK, we won the war.
From the encyclopedia:
A new “Fordor” sedan appeared in December 1922, which used aluminum panels throughout the body. The cowl section and lower body section were changed to steel during the year. There was no cowl vent in the early Fordor sedans but the vent was added during early 1923, before the change to the larger hood of the 1924 models.
Same models as the later 1923 (which Ford referred to as “1924’s”). The Fordor sedan now had steel lower panels although aluminum continued in the upper sections; doors on the closed cars changed to steel during the year, eliminating the wood framework used in the previous doors. Cowl vent in the closed cars.
There's no mention of aluminum for 1925.
The two doors on my 1924 Coupe are aluminium. When confronted with this Bruce (RIP) had to confirm what he wrote in the Encyclopedia was correct by suggesting the doors had been transferred from a Fordor.
I never had the guts to take a tape measure to a Fordor to see if the front doors are the same on the Fordor and the Coupe. My guts tells me he was wrong!! Well not correct...
I believe all Franklins up to about 1925 had all aluminum bodies. Franklin had been in the aluminum business for many years before 1902 when they made their first car.
A lot of miss Bruce McCalley (RIP) and we all appreciate the great work he did at compiling so much of the then known information in one book and later in his electronic CDs. Not to mention he was a great guy who helped so many of us. But he was also human like the rest of us and we know there are certain areas of his book that he corrected in the CD version. And that there are sections in the CD version that still need to be updated (i.e. a few areas that conflict with his own book in other locations and/or new information was found – nothing earth shaking – nothing about water pumps being re-introduced after the initial 2500 or so ). Usually he was open to new or additional information and he understood and commented that his book would become outdated if it was not updated – which is why he liked the CD version so much. Changes could easily be annotated.
I was hoping that the Price List of Parts would quickly answer the question if the 1924 Fordor front door would interchange with the 1924 Coupe door. But I didn’t find that as a nice clean answer.
But in the Model T Body Glass section I did find that for the front door glass it stated: Order G-47 which was the 1924-25 Coupe front door glass. The same for the windshield frames and glass – order the Coupe parts that fit the 1924-25.
But it should be an easy one for someone with access to both a 1924-25 (for that matter 1923-1927) Fordor and a 1924-25 Coupe to answer. Is the door size/shape the same?
And “if” the doors are interchangeable – then you still have the question was your body originally assembled that way or was it changed out at some time in the past. Do you have any history on the car?
I’m looking forward to reading what is shared and to add to or confirm what Bruce has previously written.
And thanks for sharing that your Coupe does have the aluminum doors.
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My thoughts are that the Fordor and Coupe doors are the same. Just to back up this theory, here is a posting from Dave S. and the link to the whole discussion.
Best regards, John
Thank you so much for pointing me to that posting. I wonder what I was doing back on Jun 10, 2013 that I missed that posting completely. Probably something that I thought was important at the time!
From what Dave shared – the 1924 aluminum Fordor doors would fit the coupe, but the bead running around the edge of the Fordor door was a separate piece rather than formed on the door.
I’ll also try to contact Dave and ask him if he knows of any other 1924 Coupes with the aluminum doors.
Thank you so much.
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This is what Dave has described in that 2013 thread. On our Canadian Fordor they are screwed on with raised head counter sink screws. The moulding in the pictures is a steel combination D/T mould. That one is used on the door lock sides only. The others are aluminium. I will post another picture showing those details.
Best regards, John
I have the 4 aluminum doors if anyone needs them.
Mike Husted 208 520 4892 email@example.com thanks.
Thank you so much for posting the photos of the steel D/T molding on the aluminum Fordor doors.
If you have a chance (no rush) would you put a tape measure or yard stick next to the doors and shoot a few photos? I would like to reference where the hinges are etc.
I will try to find a photo showing the 1924 coupe door that has the molding as part of the steel skin of the door. Or if someone has one of those handy, would you please add it to the thread and/or send me a copy? If you click on my name at the beginning of the post it brings up my profile and my e-mail address is the third line down.
Thanks to everyone for their help!
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I don't want to string this thread along forever but I am fascinated by the "aluminums". All the above has been interesting.
I have a placard that I display with my '25 Fordor and thought perhaps some others might be interested in some of the information I have gathered (some of the info. from books, some from conjecture). First the data ('25 Fordor only): Cost, $660, the most expensive Model T in 1925. Weight, 1,950 lbs. heaviest passenger car Model T made in 1925. Total Model T production for 1925 1,703,642. Total Fordor production for 1925, 81,050, lowest production of any passenger model.
I think the above stats alone make the case for the aluminum Fordors to be rare.
What happened to the 81,050?
1. Model T buyers didn't like them because they were under powered for their weight and they were uncomfortable being surrounded by all that plate glass (understandably so).
2. During the dust bowl days and the western migration from the Midwest, a Model T Fordor was one of the cheapest and roomiest vehicles available for making the desperate trip. It even had a solid top that could be used to haul belongings. If things didn't work out well in route many of the bodies were removed from the chassis and made into temporary housing (I have a picture that says a 1,000 words). When the migrants (think Grapes of Wrath) eventually moved on the bodies were often left behind.
3. During WWII scrap aluminum was in great demand for the aircraft industry and many aluminum Model T's were thrown on the scrap drive pile.
All that said, it has been estimated by some (don't ask me to validate the source) that less than 1% of the original '25 Fordors are still extant. At the 2008 Anniversary Celebration in Richmond I found one '25 Fordor. Since there were nearly 1,000 Model T's present I believe the rarity estimate may be reasonably accurate.