Im a new guy to add to the list of T people. I always liked the old stuff, and try to keep them as correct as possible. Here's my dilemma. Im a mechanical type of guy, aircraft mechanic by night, paper mill maintenance supervisor by day. Do I buy an original survivor car is in great shape but has the needs of a 90 year old for a fair price or do I buy a solid started non-runner that in the end will be the same money or a bit more? The survivor has the patina I love and history in the wear, but the basket case will likely be more dependable down the road as allot of the questionable items will be addressed. Engine, trans, tires, running gear etc. Where would you all drop your coin? I picked up a 27 Tudor but its to far gone to make it a viable driver at this time. Maybe in a few years after some parts collecting.
Before you decide that, you have to narrow down exactly what you want, first the year, and then the body style. Once you do that, you can begin your search.
Robert - The answer to your question is: If you can afford it, buy them both. Drive the "survivor car" while you restore the "solid started non-runner" to the condition you want it to be. Then you can decide if you want to keep, restore or sell the "survivor car".
It depends on your planned usage. A survivor car, if a really nice one, deserves to be carefully used, so as to preserve it for future generations. For example, you wouldn't take the Rip Van Winkle car and drive it all over the place; it's a time capsule that requires respect.
A restored car. OTOH can be driven hard, and used a lot, because it can always be re-restored. It's difficult tor re-preserve something!
However, there are "barn-finds" like my Barney that, while survivors, were well-used before they sat in the barn and mostly what Barney has is patina, and good body metal (the wood is gone, it will be replaced & I'm still on the fence to restore or preserve patina because of all the work I'll have to do to replace the rotten body wood.)
Barney was obtained because my '16 is still a LONG ways from being together & I wanted something to drive. Now it's 1915, and I don't think I'll have my '16 ready for it's 100th birthday. RATS. . . . But that's another subject!
If you'll click on my name and send me a private message with your e-mail address, I'll send you a Model T Ford first-time buyer's guide (free).
It has a lot of photos, so I can't post it here.
I promise, I will not share your e-mail address with anyone—and the gang here on the forum will vouch for me—right gang?
Thanks folks now Im even more on the fence. Im not a big trailer queen kind of guy so if something in my shop has tires and gas its going to get driven. Bought a basket case cider press and made it right. Lots of work so found a pile of an old Deering M. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVFIx_0wHfs Now when the church kids are all tired out the adults can fire up the engine and finish out the day.
I really want both sides. I want a car that I can drive weekly and but I don't want a car that looks like it rolled out of the paint booth. Really looking at the 26-27' Tudor's although the coups are starting to grow on me a bit. Good storage space is at a premium so both is out for now. Thanks guys, lots more the ponder.....
I've reverted back to original as I get older, in my younger days it would be restored or modified. For the 4th I was at a party where the the guy had a 39 Ford that was street rodded, what a shame to destroy an original car.
My 16 coupelet is original with preservation. I'm only replacing/repairing items that are damaged or worn out. She won't be a trailer queen but she'll be original. I've looked at many "restored" T's and they aren't original or even year correct.
I am like you though if it runs and drive, it should be driven.
Knowing what I know now, I would buy one that is in running condition or at least wouldn't take much to get there.
My first antique was a Model A that needed a complete restoration. We did the restoration, but it took 4-1/2 years and there were many times I wondered if we would ever finish it. Since then, we have acquired two T's, neither of which are restored, but are both drivable. The paint don't look like much. I've gone through the engine on both, but they were both running when I got them. They have both needed mechanical work, but nothing that kept me down for more than a few weeks at a time. We drive them regularly, and are not afraid to get them dirty or even get a scratch. The Model A, we have to be careful with. Too much invested to tear off down 20 miles of bad dirt road. The T? Wouldn't think twice about it.
Yep, Im with you. We did a 1969 Mach 1 Mustang about 15 years ago. Spent way to much time with a sanding block. Its black and straight as it could be. Don't drive it as much as I would like as I don't like jail. That's where Id be when a txting teen hits my fender with their door.
Which ever you decide and want to be a rebel to the hobby, you'll make a speedster. If not welcome anyway.
Robert -- For your first T, I'd suggest that you find an older restoration which is in good running condition. That way, you can enjoy driving it right away. Don't worry, you'll still be able to (and need to) apply your mechanical skills to it, but you can enjoy driving it while you do.
Later on, you might decide to build one from the ground up. That's fun too, but it's more fun if you have one to drive while you're building the other one.
And another thing -- try to find some T guys near you and go for rides in different T's. Driving a Runabout or Touring Car with the top down is an experience very different from driving a Sedan or a Coupe. Try 'em on for size before plunking down your money.
Robert I have 3 T's and all are good looking drivers. You can spend 10-15 thousand and make your car absolutely beautiful. Take it out for a drive and like it a lot and drive it some more.
It all depends if you want to keep your car on a trailer and only take it to car shows to win trophies.
To each his own but to me it seems some cars are only restored to be looked at and be admired.
If you build your car to be almost perfect be prepared to keep it that way.
You can build your car to look really good and enjoy it at the same time. To me its the best of both ways to go.
Buy the original survivor car. Rebuild the running gear, engine, trans, rear end and steering, leave the body and patina as you bought it and drive it.
Im kinda leaning to what John S. is saying. I want the old warn look as the dang thing is 90 years old. I kinda like the rat rod movement but they go to far with making good things look bad. A nice used car with some character. Now on to body styles. Im on the west shore of Lake Michigan, we had a hell of patriot for the war effort and pretty well wiped out most of the old iron in the area. Hard to find good stuff, and not many t's in the area. Im sure they are hiding but Im not finding many leads to owners. Some may be just clamming up thinking Im parter outer as whats a 30 year old guy want a T for. Im on the hunt. I have a few leads from hear I need to finish with, thanks for the insight guys, always a pleasure.
Join a local club, let members know you're in the market. See and touch what is out there so you can make an informed decision. We've had 3 T's, all open and I wish one would have been a closed car. The right one will grab you!
The first thing to do is to join a local club. There are many good cars for sale which you will only find out about if you are a member.
Next decide whether you want a good runner or a good looker. Look at a few and drive if they run.
I have bought a running car which had a lot of rust, a good bodied car, and a complete basket case. All three needed some work to get them to be dependable.
If your fun is in doing the work, restore a car. If your fun is in driving, buy one which runs good and is in reasonable condition for driving such as an older restoration.
If you buy a closed car, it has fabric seats and almost always the top will leak and the seats get all mildewed and stained causing stink and allergies to act up. If you replace the upholstery without restoring the body, it will look out of place. Leather seats get stiff and crack over the years. So anything you do with an old original car will attract attention of others, but maybe not as pleasant for driving.
Robert -- you might like the original Martin Parry express: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/3487/553737.html?1436156655 If I had a little more storage and a lot more surplus cash, I would be looking more seriously at it.
One caution -- be sure it will fit through your garage door. Some garages are a little lower than others and it might make a difference. Of course garage doors can be modified...
Hap l9l5 cut off
I saw that and it really has me looking, it's a few K more than is in my pocket right now and I doubt it will be around for long enough for me to sneak. I don't mind the work, just don't like being stuck on the side of the road.
Decent shape runner for me. Took a chance on a non-runner once because it gave good results on a cold compression test. I'm always thinking broken crank or whatever that'll cost big $. The basket case is what it is. A collection of parts and you don't know what's there or missing + possibly years of work just for a drive. These are not high value cars so how much you need to pour into it can be a factor. Your choice. I'd advise taking some one who knows about T's 'cause there's plenty to look for. Don't jump at the first one you see. There's plenty of them out there.
MAKE SURE WHICH EVER CAR YOU GET HAS A TITLE OR PROPER PAPER WORK FOR THE STATE IT IS BEING SOLD IN!!! I know of a number of cases that a car was restored before getting that duck in a row and now they are stuck with a rolling part source or a long battle.
Here's my story:
In '98, my grandfather gave my parents and I the jalopy of a Model T that he'd been keeping in his garage for fifty years. We got it running and drove it around the neighborhood a few times before realizing that it was completely worn out and in need of a complete restoration before it would be safe and reliable.
My father and I joined a local club and made use of the knowledge and help of the members to proceed with our restoration project. We soon realized that it would be more fun to drive on tours than to hitch rides. Within a year, we each had purchased complete, running cars to tour with the club while we finished restoring Grampa's car.
At that time, my budget was very limited. A club member took pity on me and sold me his '13-'25 openroadsterpickupthing for $1,100. The car, despite being cute, has a reputation for unreliability. I used my mechanical skills to sort out the ignition issues, adjust all the bearings and linkages. Bottom line; I never had more than $2,000 tied up in the car, but I had a lot of elbow grease in it. I had a blast with it and drove everywhere for a few years before trading up to a '22 Centerdoor.
The car that Dad bought, was a '24 Touring, nearly completed restoration and "parade ready," but needing a top and upholstery. The paint was obviously an amateur job, but it looked great from twenty feet. We installed the top and interior and Dad drove the car for only a few weeks before realizing that there are different standards of "restoration." The car looked nice, but the engine, while being a smooth runner, was very weary. So, we rebuilt it over the following winter. Dad put over 20,000 miles on that car before he died. It was always his "go to" of the four Model Ts that he owned.
Both of our Model Ts shared one thing; they became available to us through word of mouth from our local club members. In fact, my father owned four Model Ts when he passed away. None of them were ever listed in a classified ad before he got them.
When he passed away, my mother and I decided to keep my Grampa's car and sell off the other three. I sold two of them, including a beautiful '12 Touring, to local club members. The last one, a '22 Coupe is available to members of our local clubs. If nobody needs it, I'll probably talk myself into buying it. The car has been actively touring with the T Totalers MTFCI chapter for 40 years and more recently, with the Great Northern Model T Club (MTFCA). I'm not going to let it go too far away.
The deals are in the clubs. The way to get them is to become an active member. If you join a club, you'll find a wide variety of cars, but more importantly, you'll find the knowledge to help you make an informed choice before plunking down your money.
Another reason for getting into a club is that it's a good idea to take an experienced T person with you to help check it out when you do come across a car you might want to buy. Such a person will know some things that need to be checked before you hand over any dough.
I have always looked for an older restoration of a solid complete car. I assume it will need mechanical work and pay accordingly. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised other times I wind up with a total mechanical rebuild. I am not good with upholstery and paint paint so I prefer better cosmetics in what I buy knowing that I can deal with the mechanical issues. That said I think the greatest thing is an original car with all the pimples and warts of age that runs like a Swiss watch or an older tired restoration that is mechanically sound! You can drive it reliably and don't have to worry about another little chip or dent. That is especially true if you have grandkids climbing all over your car!
Patina has to be congruous. Folks, there are unwritten rules! Well, actually, the rules are written down—it's just that car guys don't know where to go to read them. They're in an odd place. Odd, because the rule book was written by guys who create an imitation of what's real; an illusion. I'm talking about scale model builders.
These guys know all there is to know on the subject of "weathering." Look in any model-making magazine and you'll read entire articles on the subject. Some modeling subjects get a lot of weathering, some get a little or none. Military aircraft models get plenty of paint chips, rain stains, powder burns and exhaust soot. Check out the wing-roots, the exterior of the left side of the cockpit and anywhere iddy-bitty, plastic hands and feet have worn away at the controls, inside. Heck, modelers go so far as to inflict battle damage! Civilian model aircraft get a much more subtle touch because they're not supposed to look like they've been through a war. Also, their cockpits are upholstered and ripped seats never, ever look appealing in an airplane.
The scale modelers know the rules about cars, too:
Ideally, anything made after 1949—and by that I mean; if it's got fins or chrome bumper-boobs, the exterior needs to look like a freshly minted penny. For intentional effect, a subtle amount of wear is grudgingly allowed on the interior. And absolutely no rips in the fabric. Period.
Pre-war cars are allowed a little more flexibility in the aging department. Why? Because that's how we remember them. The median age of most car enthusiasts today is well beyond that of the Clearasil crowd (and yeah, it would be nice if some younger folk would get involved in the old car hobby, but that's not the way it is, right now). As toddlers and children, we baby-boomers were old enough to have ridden in a few pre-war cars, but at that point in time, such vehicles were pretty much on their last legs and one major repair bill away from the junk yard. In our memories, they're allowed to be a little beat-up. It's a nostalgia thing.
But there's a tangible divide between the age of nostalgia and the age of pure, unadulterated history. People are fascinated by my 1915 Model T Ford, but few get pangs of nostalgia about it because few survive who will have memories of it—and of those who do, most won't be in good enough shape to attend a car show. Oh, there are joyous exceptions*, but they're few and far between.
Once you go far enough back along the time line and cross that tangible divide, our view takes on an historical objectivity. Rather than exclaiming, "Yeah, I remember that!", we think to ourselves, "So that's how people lived, back then. Hmm." That point of view invites weathering and patina because in the historical context, it feels right. When we clasp our hands behind our backs and stick our heads inside, we're looking for history, and the wear and tear of what we see in there gives us a feel for the vast expanse of time between the present and an unfamiliar past. There's a detached reverence you don't get from fuzzy dice and chrome-skull gearshift knobs.
Once you cross that line, the rule book goes out the window and anything from a pristinely restored trailer queen Stutz Bearcat to a Beverly Hillbillies Oldsmobile truck (yes, it was an Olds) is allowed.
This is a 1914 Ford Model T Touring that was rescued from fifty years in a chicken coop. The drive train was brought up to good operating condition and safe tires were mounted. By some incredible means, the owner—who taught me how to drive a Model T in this car—completely erased any trace of fowl odor (sorry, couldn't resist). When I first saw it, I thought it was nothing more than a lawn ornament, but it ran great. It is the holy grail of antique cars; a century-old barn-find in original condition. To restore it would be an unforgivable sin.
Then again, you can't argue with the breath-taking magnificence of this fully restored 1911 Pierce Arrow Model 48. Obviously, it's not a "driver." You can't really take this toy out and play with it because that would begin the process of unraveling the restoration. But oh, the drool-factor!
Somewhere in between those two is my 1915 Model T Ford. It's a very average weekend-driver. The paint is good, but not excellent, likewise the folding top and upholstery. As you can see, there's some wear on the controls, but that's fairly subtle and it looks right.
But wouldn't look so right on this '58 Caddy...
C'mon. You know I'm right.
If you look at the way scale modelers build and paint their cars, you’ll see pretty much the same treatment in that anything from the fifties to the present is rendered as a pristine restoration. Of course, scale modeling itself is no longer what it used to be. Back when I was a kid, all males were born knowing how to drive and the lines of their right palms were an H-shift pattern—and every single one of us assembled models and we all knew who “The Kat from AMT” was. Alas, airplane glue and Testor’s paints have gone pretty much the way of the Dodo.
*One memorable occurrence took place at a car show where an octogenarian couple approached and the gentleman commented, "That's the kind of car I was driving when I was courting Martha, here."
Of course, the only right thing to do was offer them a ride. They climbed into the rear seat and by the time we got out of the parking lot, those two were smooching it up like a pair of high-school kids. An unforgettable moment. Rare as hens' teeth.
I wouldn't hesitate to drive that 1911 Pierce, but believe me, it'd only be on certain roads, and during certain weather for sure! But it'd be driven nonetheless. Then, much as I do now with a couple of my "very nice" cars, it'd go up on the lift for an "underbelly rub" and occasional polish there too! And of course, the topsides get dusted more than our furniture!!