Jim’s 1911 Touring came to us with the original firewall, dash Filler board, and all of the original windshield hardware. The plan is to use the original filler board. During the process of stripping the paint off of the filler board we found the following lettering: MOTOR NO. 63667. See the photos below. That matches the engine number of the car and the dash plate. This was obviously done by a sign painter. The color of the letters appears to be a pale yellow. We are not sure why this was painted on the filler board. The speculation is that it might has been how the car was licensed and the method it was displayed. It is common to see photos of early cars with tags on the firewall or the tag number painted on the firewall.
A couple of questions for your consideration:
1. What do you think the Motor Number displayed on the car’s dash signifies?
2. We want to preserve the lettering. Any thoughts about how to copy it? Could a sign shop scan the lettering and make a template that could be used to paint the lettering on the car?
That is really neat! Love the old style lettering and numerals. To save that and restore is a great idea.
Guess is the motor number was required for either local or state registration, possibly prior to license plate requirements for that local. Would make for interesting discovery if you could trace the history of that T.
As for re-creation, makes sense to contact a local sign painter in advance, so that preparation could be done to repaint. Pictures or tracing by the sign painter so it can be reproduced accurately.
As you posted, typical placement for license tags when they first came out. Painting there makes sense for the reason of registration.
Here's an idea - Set up a digital camera on a tripod so that it can take un-distorted pictures of the lettering (the pics you posted are close).
Once you have the pictures, then, somewhat by trial and error, scale the pictures so that when they are printed out, the letters on the prints match the size of the letters on the board.
You can then cut out the letters on the prints to make a mask for spraying the new letters. If you can print the pics onto some peel-and-stick paper, so much the better.
I used the procedure I described above with a Ford Logo I found on the internet and used the resulting mask to spray the logo onto the tailgate of my pickup, it turned out great.
My dad collects license plates but I've never heard of the motor number as being required to be displayed as far as any pre-state registrations are concerned.
If the governing body (state, county, or municipal) that required registration didn't assign a registration number to be displayed and the respective law or ordinance required the motor number to be displayed, including the phrase "Motor No." would be redundant as it would be understood that it was the motor number that was actually displayed.
What's the history of the car? My opinion is that was added by a collector or the car was on display in a Ford showroom or museum.
If you know the state where the car was originally sold, Eric Tanner's website is a good reference regarding pre-state license information.
Click on the respective state and then click on "Prestate State" on the left side of the webpage and/or "Prestate City/County" if necessary.
I'd suggest you first takes super high resolution detailed photos of it. (In case something gets screwed up.)
Then clean and sand as much of the unpainted area as possible and get it finish ready.
GENTLY clean the lettering to preserve it.
Then stain everything on the spacer board but the lettering. Maybe using blue tape to mask it off.
With the spacer board stained deep cherry red (find the discussion about proper stain color) the light yellow letters should really pop.
Then finish the stain and lettering with your varnish of choice.
I think the preserved original lettering will look great. Anything else will be just a restored spacer board with "MOTOR NO. 63667" painted on it.
: ^ )
Your comment may explain it best "My opinion is that was added by a collector or the car was on display in a Ford showroom or museum" Jim purchased the car from the Ford dealer in Dublin, GA. It sat o the showroom floor for more than the 35 years we have known about the car. Unfortunately we haven't found anyone that knows when the car came to the Ford dealer.
We have the build sheet and delivery record for the car. It was sold new in Dublin, GA and apparently stayed there all of it life.
Apparently Georgia did offer some sort of license arrangement in 1911 but I don't know if it was uniform for the entire state. Pre state tag collectors might be able to offer some more insights.
Just in case - Georgia information below:
After reading the home page, click on and read Prestate State and then click on Prestate City/County.
Take good high resolution pics and any good sign making shop with an art dept. can put it in their computer and generat what ever size lettering as a stencil or cut you a decal that can be stuck on.
With something like that I would preserve it as it is. Once you fiddle with it, it is no longer what it was. I would replace it with a new piece, and have that signwritten in the old way. There is no substitute for the old methods.
There is an original 1911 touring in LA with a raggedy old top and irons which are totally unserviceable. I suggested removing them and preserving them as is, and fitting a repro iron set and top for servicablilty. That way you can retain the historically important features and still have something you can use. Nothing destroyed.
Allan from down under.
You would be preserving something that was done at a much later date - 1940s/1950s - not exactly original to the car.
As far as reproducing the lettering - you don't need computers or decals. Any talented professional sign painter or pin striper could reproduce that free hand.
Put the piece on a color photocopier and scan it. That would be the reference for the sign painter. Also, take photos straight on and take measurements.
Thanks for the useful comments and tip on how to preserve the lettering on the dash filler board. We will use your input to determine the best way to copy and reproduce the lettering.
Another dash number picture.......
Wow, nice looking "S"! I guess it's an S. The boy looks like he's suffering from stomach cramps or constipation.