I just registered for the forum after a couple months of browsing. Although I have had a lot of help through my local car club, I figure this place is more efficient than e-mail, and I have more people to ask for help rather than just one. Here are my questions
1. How much? I am looking for a touring (or runabout, if it fits my criteria). I am looking for a well running and driving car from 1917-1927 (preferably something with a 1 man top and 1925 or earlier). Not concours quality by any means, but a nice 10 footer that runs and drives well, and any maintenance can be fixed by a couple guys or girls. The market is different in Western Canada than it is in the US, although I have always thought 7500-9500 Canadian dollars, and my car club has confirmed my estimate.
2. Insurance. This has always been my biggest roadblock. Reading through the forum, it seems as if some people through Hagerty can insure their cars for people under 25, so long as that someone over 25 in their household has the car under their name as well. Reading a post from New Brunswick, though, it seems as if that isn't the case for Canadians. Just this year, the Alberta Motor Association began offering Classic Car insurance through Hagerty, although I don't know how flexible they will be. The AMA is an insurance company, not a company to keep the hobby alive by letting younger people drive!
3. How does the top go up? A random question, I know, but trying to find info on the web provides little to no results. If there is a thread on the forum about one or two man tops for touring cars or roadsters that someone could link, I would appreciate that.
4. Practicality. I realize a Model T is a novelty, especially for someone who lives in Alberta. I could potentially drive it from April to late October. That is fine by me, because every Spring, it will be like a new experience (for the first few years, anyways). I have always maintained though that I could drive it to the grocery store, Whyte Ave (a great place for car spotting with a wide array of classic cars and hot rods), my friends' houses, the golf course, etc. I haven't figured out storage yet, but have a few options in mind. They would involve trailering the car to town in March, and back out in October. If this were the case, it would rarely run unless special trips were made. If the proper procedures were taken (draining fluids, preventing mice, etc.), I wouldn't see a problem with this. The maintenance scares me a little bit, but Model T's were designed to be fixed. Costs do frighten me; I buy a car that drives well for a year, then the next year, I need to fix the magneto for example. If my local T expert comes to help me find a car and confirms that it is a nice driver, should I still be worried about unforseen costs? He has two Model T's (as well as a 1905 Orient, a 1914 Kissel, a 1970s MGB, and an original 1947 Dodge which is his daily driver), so I trust his authority.
5. Engine braking and hill climbing. Although I don't live in the mountains, there are some hills in my area of varying steepness and length. I have experimented with engine braking on hills in my 2003 Ford Explorer as a novelty, but it works. How steep of hills can a Model T safely climb and descend? I know the rule of go up the same speed you will go down in, but that still leaves a bit of ambiguity. I would hate to stall on a hill I am climbing, or worse, lose control on a hill I am descending.
If any members could help with any of these questions, that would be great!
Welcome to the affliction.
A Model T is first and foremost an horseless antique auto, its has its own characteristics over a modern. T's are fun, but are also needing more care and consideration in driving and maintaining.
That said, got my first T as a teenager and learned to love it. But also along the way learned to maintain it, it can't take a Model T to the local Ford garage!!
As for top lowering, that is so simple, like a boat top, fold down the bows, that's it. The runabout is simple, the touring is bigger but folds the same way. The One Man touring top is more easy with two! The Two Man Top is that.....you NEED two persons.
The cost ranges you stated should get you a decent, dependable Model T. Service is easy, just gas, oil, and grease. You do this service each 200-500 miles or once a season if you drive a little. Air the tires, fill the radiator, check the oil and gas each time you drive! You have no gages to read....you are the captain of the ship!
Then do the 200-500 mile service, grease all the cups, oil all the oilers, change engine oil, check all drive parts, wheels, hubs, front end parts, and tighten loose bolts or nuts.
As for hill climbing, a runabout will do great, a touring with heavy load of 4-5 people, low gear might be needed as you approach the crest of the hill. Down the other side, the engine does give some braking action, throttle closed. Other than checking speed by tapping the brake pedal for short times, that is all. Don't ever ride the brake of a Model T.
You will have fun! No question about the fun factor vs. the $ needed to acquire and maintain a Model T.
No other antique auto with 1908 technology can be touched with less $ than the Model T.
1.) Yes, you can get into this hobby for as little as $8,000. _That should buy what you're looking for: a black, steel driver in okay running condition with okay paint, okay upholstery and an okay top.
2.) I've never heard a bad word said about Hagerty. _I use them and a nice magazine subscription comes with the policy. _They're very nice folks and they love old cars as much as we do.
3.) The one-man and two-man tops are both a pain in the neck to raise and lower and since you're only going to drive your Model T in good weather, the top is likely to remain stowed in the retracted position for the duration of the driving season. _I think I put up my top on one occasion two years ago, when I got caught in the rain on the way back from a car show. _ And oh yeah, I put it up once this year to show a spectator how it's done.
4.) After you master the art of piloting a Model T, driving it around town becomes fairly routine stuff. _The car will cruise comfortably at 35 mph and not much more. _I had mine up to 42 mph once and feel no desire to repeat that performance. _You won't want to put your Model T on a highway because you'll either get run off the road or rear-ended by some hat-backwards doody-head on a cellphone. _Maintenance seems daunting at first and the Model T does demand constant, oiling, greasing and adjusting, but most of it can be done with a handful of crescent wrenches, a little socket-wrench set, pliers and a few screwdrivers. _If I can do it, you can do it, and in time you'll find the constant tinkering to be calming and therapeutic. _You'll need a garage in which to store your car. _Period.
5.) Hills are no fun. _The Model T's low gear is low enough to take on just about any hill as long as you don't mind doing so at nine mph, but you'll become unpopular with following traffic, to say the least. _A steady diet of that would be rough on the bushings. _Some Model T's are equipped with a 2-speed, Ruckstell rear-end which is a good thing to have around hilly terrain. _Unforeseen costs are exactly that. _Goes with the territory. _Now and then the car will present you with an unpleasant malfunction and you'll scratch your head over it, but good advice is always available on this forum.
Look for a private message from me in your e-mail.
Ryan -- The 1-man top came about in 1923. The two-man top of the earlier cars is a chore for 1 person to put up and down on a Touring Car; the Runabout is a piece of cake. I had a 1915 Touring Car for 10 years, and now I have a '21 Runabout. I like the Runabout body style better than the Touring. I put a wood pickup bed on mine to make it more versatile. (See the pic on my profile page.)
I agree with Dan that the amount of money you're expecting to spend should buy you a good, dependable driver. Enlist the help of any experienced Model T guys near you for assessing the car. Have him drive it before buying, with you as a passenger. That way he can tell you what he's seeing and hearing regarding the car's condition.
When you get one, do whatever it takes to get it in top-notch driving condition, then drive it a lot. You'll be one of the "experienced Model T guys" before you know it.
Thank you everyone for the speedy replies!
Dan, thanks for the diagram. The 1926 touring that I recently saw had 90 year old rotten bows and no top that I didn't want to start fiddling around with. This answers my question.
Bob, I am more than fine with having "okay" qualities for the cosmetics. Nothing wrong with a bit of patina or sitting on big blankets or quilts on the seats! In regards to Hagerty, that reiterates what I had hoped to hear. I emailed you both through a PM and bypassing the PM.
Mike, I am in the same boat. I think roadsters are a little more spunkier and have a more "old" feel about them with their angles in the decks and roofs. Problem is, I would like to carry more than just 1 passenger now and then!
Thanks everyone for the help. I will be posting a lot here, and maybe in early 2016 I will start looking for a good car.
There's a lot of good Model T people all around you Ryan. Join a local club first. You'll find new friends and probably a lead on a Model T or two that just may come up for sale to someone newly interested in the disease!
Garnet in So-Sask
Ryan -- In the 10 years I had my Touring Car, there were people in the back seat maybe 5 times. The rest of the time, I put "stuff" back there. The Pickup bed is more efficient for that.
Hagerty is great. However, they will want you to show proof of a "daily driver", other than the T, and will not be happy if you use the car to go to work or use is as "general transportation". It's a limited use policy.
As for driving a T, most folks can learn to do it in 15 minutes or so. That does not make you a Model T driver however. Don't do any "real" driving until the controls become second nature to you and until you know the car's limits of handling, stopping, turning, etc.
Ryan, it appears you are in Edmonton. Not sure what club you have there, but we have fairly big club in Calgary. Check out www.foothillsmodeltfordclub.com.
We have about 100 families with the "affliction" and are always willing to help.
I know most blokes set up for a slow idle when the engine is warm & the throttle lever is all the way up...
However you'll get better engine braking if the throttle shuts completely but you have to remember to set an idle when you pull up at a stop sign ;)
As for maintaining a T, they're one of the worlds simplest car,there isn't that much to go wrong & nothing that can't be fixed.
I bought my first T when I was 17, and other than high school auto shop, and a dad that was an ex-mechanic I knew nothing about them. I purchased the Ford Service book, which is a definite must, and that is how I learned about Model T's. This book is available from all the T suppliers, and you could probably purchase a used one from ebay or Abe Books. Tops are common sense. One man can do it, but two is better, even on a one man top. I have no difficulty with either doing it alone.
We have the Edmonton Antique Car Club. Our T expert is a Mr. Bamford, if you know him. He actually pointed out your club to me and suggested that I might find a car there through word of mouth. If I make a trip down to Calgary before the snow hits, I will write you and your club up.
You're unlikely to know before you have a T which parts you may need when you do get one. But some of these, including the one Larry mentioned, can help you prepare.
Get involved with a local club. Good cars come up for sale from time to time. The club I am in has people reaching out fairly regularly to the club who have inherited a T or acquired a T through family and are trying to find a home for it. Unfortunately, often it is for unfortunate reasons, like the owners health forces a sale or something like that. Watch out, a lot of uninformed individuals think they have stuck gold when they acquire a T and want ridiculous prices for them
On the other side of the coin, if you find one that needs some work, you will probably spend more money on the car, but the knowledge you will gain is worth it.
Local clubs are often great places to get a car. On a very rare for me circumstance where I had sold a car I did not want to sell because I had to have the money, and I got a bit more than I expected or had to, I jumped right out and used the rare excess to buy my coupe from a long-time good friend in one of the clubs I belonged to. He had been trying to sell the car for more than a year, and at a very reasonable price. One of the things that often happens in clubs, is that most of the members already have a few cars, and even a car at a "reasonable" price may not find a buyer for quite some time. Most of us are not wealthy, and most of us are not looking to fill warehouses with cars (Okay, I know a few people that do, but they get a little picky on what they want). Often, clubs know of a few reasonably priced cars looking for a good home. My coupe was one of those. It had a number of special features, accessories that I actually wanted because of the mountainous area I live in. It was a very good car for the money, and I have never regretted grabbing it when I did.
By the way, Chris B is a great guy!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
"I realize a Model T is a novelty"
Ryan, it's only a novelty if you think it is.
Yes, their brakes are poor as is their crash safety but think about road conditions 100 years ago. If they could handle conditions then why not now? And yes, people did use them in winter in Canada. It may be the case that you and others don't want to use a T in such a way, which is fine, but it's wrong to think Ts are a novelty which means more or less an amusing toy.
People here, on this forum, are using Ts as daily drivers, to drive ALL over North America (speak to Dean Yoder), farm work vehicles, to do the USA "Ocean to Ocean" rally, the Peking to Paris rally, tow camper trailers around Australia, and so on.
Also, don't get sucked into thinking you need to spend $10-15k "upgrading" a T to do any of the above mentioned things; although, some period correct additions do certainly help.
Also, owning a T beats the hell out spending $55K to go to Africa to shoot a lion thus becoming the most hated man since Hitler.
To top it all off, women like guys who drive Ts.
Welcome to the world of Model Ts
Hehe... I'm beginning to sound like my dad. I've always advocated for what you have said, Constantine, with the same logic. They did it 100 years ago, why not today?
The reality for me, though, is that it can't be stored in the garage for the winter. There are some options such as renting out a neighbour's garage, renting out a shed space at a family friend's acreage, or having it stored for free in my family's farm in Saskatchewan. Hopefully it doesn't come down to the latter, but I know I can't keep it in my own house, unfortunately. If and when I get my T, we will only have three garage stalls for six cars!
First thing's first is to talk to Hagerty directly (not through an agent). Let's hope that that is possible from Canada.
Ryan, if you are going to use Hagerty - and I think they're great -you have to have inside storage. It's written into my policy. You would want to store the T inside anyway. I don't recall my Hagerty policy saying anything about proof of another car, but my insurance agent could have done that without my knowledge.
I looked on Hagerty this morning, and things look promising *knocks on wood*.
Another few questions from me now. How well do the tilting windshields stay open at about 60kph (around 35mph)? I can't help but wonder if the top and bottom panes fall back to their natural resting positions.
Also, how bright are the headlights, cowl lights, and taillights? I need to be seen and be able to see, so I'm wondering if night drives to a friend's house or a coffee shop is a big no. Also, for gas cowl lamps (acetylene?), is the fuss of lighting them and setting the wick worth it? Or is that something that a sane person would only do on special occasions?
I consider Model T lights to be for other people to see you rather than for you to see the road. Good headlight reflectors (if you have any) and halogen bulbs make them almost effective at slightly above parking lot speeds. Halogen bulbs in the tail light(s) help as well. The cowl lamps are oil rather than acetylene and nice for show but of little other value. Obviously my opinion of Model T lights isn't very high and others may think more of them. Even before going to higher intensity bulbs, I would add a brake light if one is not already present. Turn signals are also a good idea if you drive in higher traffic areas. Some people understand hand signals but lots of folks will think you are just waving.
Windshields should stay in position with no difficulty at moderate/normal Model T speeds. Hinges vary depending on the year and body style but all seem to be work fine at moderate speeds.
Ryan - I added the sure stop disc brakes to my car, along with some of the standard engine upgrades when I rebuilt my engine. Both make it better/safer to drive in moderate traffic. My t is intended to be a fun toy, not a show car. Weather permitting, it is my week end errand car. Not only is it fun to drive, but it really strokes the ego when you find some one admiring it in a parking lot. Mine's a 15 footer, it looks good at 15 feet, but to me that is part of the fun, a T does not have to be cosmetically perfect.
$2 LED torches in my lamps stop the flame blowing out if i drive too fast. But i also can fit red bicycle lamps to the back if i think i need them. Not normally though and i like the oil lamps
I love driving model Ts at night. But you do NEED to be extra cautious of other and bad drivers. T headlamps are mostly for others to see you. I do not modify T headlamps because I have exceptional night vision and do not need them. But I would recommend halogen bulbs if you have any night vision issues. I sometimes add a second tail lamp, on faster Ts like my boat-tail. I usually just run the one. I do make sure that I use a higher candle power bulb and that the tail and brake lamps are visible at night from a fair distance (like an average motorcycle at least). I also have on some cars replaced the original glass rear lenses with modern plastic ones that I have modified to fit. The change is barely noticeable with the lights off, but very much brighter when the light is needed.
As for Hagerty? I do like them. And for what it is worth? My policy does have a clause that requires me to have a modern car, and a primary modern car insurance policy. They would not have to pay off in an accident if you violate such a clause.
Between the Canadian issue, age issues, and primary driving issues, make sure to talk directly to Hagerty and make certain your questions are properly addressed in the policy. So far, I have enjoyed Hagerty's customer service and willingness to address issues. I had used J C Taylor for many years, until their customer service took a dump. Then I switched to Hagerty at the suggestion of several friends.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2