Can't find my ford manual and I'm not sure it would tell me the date made and sold. Engine number is 86988. Thanks in advance.
Records in the book, "Model T Ford, the Car That Changed the World" just say that engine 86988 was assembled in December, 1911, nothing more specific than that, sorry.
What is the block's casting date?
Try to get the original invoice on your car from Benson archives; I recall they have the invoices maybe about up to about your serial number range(?). Someone here will be able to tell you if the records go as high as your serial number. the invoice will come with the build sheet that will show the assembly and test run dates. It will also show if your engine was originally in a torpedo, so the records are very much worth having on your car. I think they charge $25 or $35 for the service. They are
I believe the archives have paperwork for numbers from about 1,100 to about 70,000.
From my research at the Benson Ford Archives I can state with some authority your car with a serial number (if the engine is original to the car) would have been cast about November 15, 1911. This was well into the 1912 model / fiscal year, so your car was sold new by Ford as a "1912" Model T Torpedo Runabout. What we think of today as the "1912" torpedo runabout body style first appeared in December 1911. So your car is a likely body style for the serial number that you have provided.
As others have said the best evidence of the car's birthday is the casting date on the engine block and the cylinder head. They will appear like this:
The car with this casting date has the serial number
From the records at the Benson Ford Archives we know that cars typically left the factory within 7 - 10 days (sometimes less, sometimes more) of the block casting date.