When was the Model T first built in Right-Hand Drive?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2008: When was the Model T first built in Right-Hand Drive?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Stokes on Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 07:11 pm:

Does any member know when Ford (Detroit or Canada) first offered the Model T with right-hand control?

I understand Trent Boggess found reference or drawings for a two-lever right-control hogshead, so clearly Ford was thinking about it very early. But what we don't seem to be able to establish was when the T was first built and offered as a right-control car.

Almost certainly it was sometime in 1909, and maybe there is mention in Ford's publicity material from that time, or period publications, if anyone has access to such items?

We would appreciate any help anyone can offer please.

With thanks,
John Stokes
New Zealand


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Mikeska on Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 07:16 pm:

There is a right hand drive 1909 Touring here in Denver.

Paul


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Stokes on Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 07:41 pm:

Thanks Paul - do you know the engine number? Or do you have a contact for the owner?
John


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Mikeska on Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 07:54 pm:

The car is owned by a past MTFCA president but unfortunately he passed on this year and the car is tied up in his estate and is unavailable.

Paul


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Stokes on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 12:09 am:

Oh dear. Thanks Paul.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By alex.brown on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 01:08 am:

August 1909 Ford Agent was still driving left Hand Drive in New Zealand.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jem Bowkett on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 06:17 am:

We tried to answer this question when researching the English Model T Ford book but found no certain answer. We can find some photos of RHD cars registered in the UK mid 1909 but can't tie down the exact dates of registration. We do not know of any surviving car that was originally sold in the UK in 1909.

The photo in Stern's Tin Lizzie captioned as Olympia 1908 shows RHD cars, but we now know that is actually Olympia in Nov 1909.

Unfortunately Hermann Goering blew up a lot of offices in big cities such as London, destroying vehicle registration records, and the British Govt finished the destruction off when they computerised the system in the 70s. Some records were transferred to local archives, but none of the ones we need. The best we can do with most licence plate nos is give an approximate date for its issue. If anyone can give me a licence plate no from an English RHD car, I can see if the records still exist.

Anyone feel like working their way through the microfiches at Benson Ford looking for a mid-1909 RHD Shipping Invoice?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Stokes on Monday, December 15, 2008 - 05:05 pm:

Thank you for the answers and efforts so far. It is appreciated.

There may be Ford publicity items from 1909 in existence, in someone's collection, which show RHD cars?

If so we still need to be careful - as Hap Tucker will testify, in my research I found what looked to be right-hand drive cars from 1909, but Hap noticed the reversed Ford insignia, so those photos were simply produced back to front to give that effect. All they prove is that Ford was at least thinking about it!

But we'd love to get to the bottom of this. We look forward to hearing more, hopefully.

John Stokes


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - 06:33 am:

Sorry for off topic - but I didn't want to create a new topic for this link on road safety in England 1909..
http://www.messybeast.com/history/roadrules.htm
Well, the year 1909 & LH driving is on topic, but no T:s, unfortunately.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Stokes on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - 04:33 pm:

Thanks for the effort Roger! The year is right! And the cars are right-hand drive - but not T.
Here is an observation.... in most of the photos that include a horse-drawn vehicle, the driver is seated on the left side of the vehicle - the opposite side to the 'States.
Possibly someone, somewhere will find a period publication that includes the T.
John Stokes


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hap Tucker on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - 10:20 pm:

John, Jem, Alex, Paul, Roger,

Bottom Line Up Front: Bruce McCalley records car #2436 assembled Apr 21, 1909 was a RHD car shipped to Australia – ref page 480, “Model T Ford” by McCalley.

1. I think the question of when the first Right Hand Drive Model T Ford was produced will be difficult to answer and virtually impossible to prove unless additional information is discovered and/or shared. The reason I believe that, is to our knowledge the Ford shipping documents for vehicles #2 through 1,118 have evidently been destroyed or lost [ref page 475 of Bruce McCalley’s book “Model T Ford.” All future references use the same book unless stated otherwise.] So we currently don’t have nearly as much information on the cars during that serial number range as we do on the ones from #1119 on up for several years.

2. I would propose another question may help provide us an acceptable current answer and also continue to encourage us to look for further documentation and clarification. That question is, “What is the earliest documented right hand drive Model T Ford?”

a. That could be an actual car with a known history or probable history. I’m 90% sure that I read in the past that at least one 1909 had been converted from LHD to RHD. That is fine – but I do not think that would count as the earliest documented RHD if it was a known later conversion. But a RHD car that was likely RHD from the factory could easily serve as a documentation. For example the LHD car #220 is in the missing shipping documents between cars #2 and #1118. But it was in such good original shape when found that it is still used to document how Ford most likely did things during the early months of production.
b. My current answer for the earliest documented RHD Model T Ford that I am aware of was car #2,436. It was a water pump engine, 3 pedal car, manufactured Apr 21, 1909. It was a red touring with the aluminum skinned Pontiac (also known as Beaudett) body and was shipped to Australia. That is documented on page 480, third entry from the bottom of the page. That has been shared before but even knowing it was listed in that section of Bruce’s book, I couldn’t find it the first two times I skimmed back through the list looking for RHD. It wasn’t until I took a ruler and went line by line that I finally saw it again.
c. Having that data point also greatly reduces the amount of searching that would be required of the shipping invoices at the Benson Ford Archives. We would need to start with car 1119 and review in increasing engine numbers until we reached a RHD car and continue a little ways further just to make sure.
i. The reason we would want to go a little past the number, the cars were not always assembled in order by engine number. So a car with a slightly higher engine number could have actually been produced before a car with a slightly lower engine number.
ii. What ever number was listed as produced as a RHD the earliest would be the earliest documented RHD Model T.
iii. That is a much smaller task than reviewing the 65,000 plus entries hoping to find a RHD entry.
d. Also, a long shot I want to check on further. Bruce McCalley maybe able to help us narrow down the search some. I will drop him a note and ask if he remembers if he reviewed all the shipping documents between 1119 and 2500 or if he started skipping to every 10th or 100th entry that early in his review. (ref page 475 Bruce states, “It would take a lifetime to study each and every one of the existing records. During a visit in 1982 the author began looking at every invoice, then every tenth one. It became obvious that there would not be time for every tenth one, so the author bean looking at every hundredth, filling in between theses numbers where there might have been some particular interest.”) Note the next RHD that Bruce shows in his abbreviated listing in his book is page 485, Dec 3, 1909 engine #13,300 shipped to Scotland. But we already know that the picture in “Tin Lizzie” by Sterns which is from the Ford Times, documents an earlier RHD chassis and car at the Nov 1909 (for 1910 year model cars) Olympia Car Show. So there should not be a need to go that far into the records.
3. And hopefully others will be able to share additional information to support an earlier date or confirm that #2436 is indeed the earliest documented RHD. And as stated before cars #2 through #1118 we don’t have the shipping documents for them. Although the accounts receivable records are available for approximately 1 out 4 of those cars. But I don’t know if they list if they were RHD or not.

Respectfully submitted,

Hap Tucker 1915 Model T Ford touring cut off and made into a pickup truck and 1907 Model S Runabout. Sumter SC.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Stokes on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - 10:39 pm:

Thank you Hap for that effort and clear explanation.

Without wishing to deviate - this question is related - do we know if car # 2436 was assembled by Ford in Detroit, or Ford of Canada? Or do we know if it was sold through the American or the Canadian company?

Being destined for export to Australia, it should be by the latter, but I see Beaudette (in spite of the French-sounding name) was a Michigan-based company. And, of course, Ford of Canada supplied their cars with Canadian-made bodies! The more we know, the less we know!

I had a quick look at Beaudette at http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/b/beaudette/beaudette.htm which makes for interesting reading.

I'd be interested in your answer.

Thanks again and best wishes
John Stokes


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hap Tucker on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - 06:40 am:

John,

We know that RHD car #2436 was produced by Ford USA in the Piquette Plant (just outside of Detroit). All the shipping documents are from the USA records. They also include engines, chassis, etc shipped to Canada (and some without the destination listed or readable) they are all USA production.
Respectfully submitted,

Hap Tucker 1915 Model T Ford touring cut off and made into a pickup truck and 1907 Model S Runabout. Sumter SC.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jem Bowkett on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - 11:54 am:

Going back to the 1909 Road Safety link posted by Roger Karlsson, & John Stokes comment about horse carriage drivers on the LH seat - I just spoke to a horse carriage friend, he says the UK convention is to mount on the left but sit on the RH seat (the brake is on the right). We suspect for these posed photos the driver just hopped quickly onto the seat.


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