As Model T's get older and their owners get younger, any predictions on the future of the original design - coils, magnets, gas lights, carburetors, two wheel brakes, and 22 hp engine - surviving and being used and understood by future drivers?
Will the new owners tolerate adjusting coils, leaking carbs, and three peddles on the floor? Or will the cars survive as a shell only with an all new computerized drive train?
Both. Just like now, some will want to stay original, or mostly so, and will invest the effort to learn how. Others will inflict a lot of ill-advised "upgrades".
I agree with Steve. It'll be just like now. The spectrum will range from those who are total purists to those who chop them up, add a V-8 engine, automatic transmission and AC then call it a T.
Since there are only a finite number of Model Ts, I suppose over the next hundred years or so little by little the number will diminish due to being tampered with or neglect. At some point they will become strictly museum pieces, but that's probably pretty far off.
Events like "The Race Of Gentlemen" are inspiring a lot of young guys to take an interest in early cars, old technology, and outdated methods.
They may be building hotrods, but there is a very strong interest in the era and keeping them as authentic as they can afford to build to the period.
New owners will be inspired by how they see Model T's being used. If all they see is Street Rods and Rat Rods that may be the direction they take. This forum and restored and original cars being driven should show them the alternative. Without the access and encouragement of local Restorers I could easily gone the other direction. Taking time with folks that show interest is well spent time.
I think it depends on the person , I'm teaching my boys about the T through working on them and actually giving them ownership of the project and outcome , we've been down the road and around our farm with the Tudor and are working on the roadster pick up as well as my fathers TT , the younger boys ( 10 and 12 ) seem to get the history , and delight in driving and riding in the Ts as well as working on them . The oldest boy is more interested in faster cars , so I gave him the fiberglass bucket that came off of the Ts we rescued this past summer and told him he could build whatever as long as it was safely done and not using any REAL t parts ,, and he has the chassis available to him if he ever wants to build a real one
As a relatively new arrival to T's and in the age bracket of old youngster to early mid life crisis, I agree in the spectrum theory also. There will always be, regardless of owner's age, a certain percentage of people who are attracted to T's primarily due to the car's historical importance, and have a keen interest in originality, where safety allows. They will probably be somewhat of a minority, because in general as a human race, people tend to be more interested in performance than history, but the historians will be there. The youngest folks of today seem to like history as much as past generations... look at the growing fascination of old vinyl records, old music and movies, old houses, etc, not to mention everyone has a lifelong love of "Grandpa's Car" for sentimental reasons. I may be a fairly rare case, but I don't think too rare, and I am 45 and love all original parts, cast iron pistons, original crankshafts, and cosmetic accuracy. Not because I believe they are technically superior to modern parts, they are not, but because I love history and the T's place in it.
The old car hobby is suffering from "prosperity" values. When "most" of us got into the hobby, regardles of which brand we liked, you could always find a decent clunker laying around for cheap to fix up or at least cut your teeth on.
Those bargains are mostly gone now & the younger generation has to cough up more money to get started in the hobby because most of us old timers who have hoarded them all up want to cash in on "todays values".
Just my opinion.....
I'm 47, and a born tinkerer. I have three boys and the youngest (8) is my car guy. Luckily he is as mechanically inclined as his dad so for sure he will be keeping the T as his father wanted... Original with coils, but with a high compression head and e-timer.
Or I will haunt him in his dreams...
You just never know. Last fall the little community I live in had a car-oriented party. I displayed my stable, and several people showed very interesting collector cars as well as modern electrics and hybrids. We posted information about the various cars, and car history, around our clubhouse, and put out a questionnaire. There were two prizes; a ride to ice cream for a family in a neighbor's '39 Buick Century sedan, and driving lessons in my '13 T. Winner's choice. Some folks took the questionnaire very seriously. One family with two small kids worked very diligently, won first place, chose the Buick ride and had a wonderful time. That very much pleased the person who won second place - he REALLY wanted the T lessons. He's 15. Next month he'll turn 16 and get his learner's permit. As long as he treats the car with respect, I'll take him as far along as he wants to go. This might be very interesting.
As is so often the case, there must be devoted, dedicated, good natured, well-meaning fathers or "father figures" to lead the way....(and I do realize that there are several wrenchers of the fairer sex....but isn't this of interest mainly to males - not that it HAS to be?).
This group of "older" folks seem to have the right mixture.....
....I'm sure there are some T groups around. We just need more of them!
Some wise person said: "Build the fields and they will come".
Might I say: Build the clubs, show your work, and the interest will come?
As a younger T enthusiasts (turning 24) with a nearly running 25 chassis, I sometimes really worry about the future of the Hobby. I see few guys my age getting into pure original style T's. Most go for the hotrods and muscle cars. There are some like myself though who like the original T in its true form. I think an issue you may see in the future is the increasing price of original cars and parts. In my grandfather's day you could pick up a barn fresh T for 100 dollars. Now an operational chassis is going to run you 2500+, an old restoration or original in need of tlc brings 5000 or so. New restorations run the gambit from 7000-20000 depending upon rarity and quality. I've been fortunate in that my grandfather collected so many spare parts I assembled my chassis mostly from what he had laying around. I know a few guys my age who are interested but just can't spare the cash. Hopefully we can spread interests among people my age and younger. That's why when I get my car done I will never refuse giving people rides or answering questions. The best way to continue the hobby among the young is to expose them to it.
Yes Matthew, parts are a lot more expensive now than in your grandfather's day.
Unfortunately, there is a thing called "inflation" that seriously erodes the purchasing power of our money. Way back "when", I could purchase a gallon of gasoline for around $.26. At the time I had a part time job in a gas station making around $.75 an hour. Just a short time ago, gas was around $3.00 a gallon....do the math - recently, as well as years ago, it took an hour of work to buy three gallons of gas.
True, parts are more expensive today than 60 years ago, but for the most part, I believe folks are making a lot more money per hour than they were then.
Still, you have a valid point - parts cost $$$.
true, but $100 in 1950 equals $1000 today. That's the price of just a motor these days that needs restoration.
The rise in incomes has kept pace with inflation for some products, but old car parts probably cost more hours of work for a given item than they used to because of increasing scarcity. I expect this would be especially true for non-Ford makes.
I think the hobby is doing fine and will continue to do so.
Many years ago cars or parts could only be found at large advertised shows and swap meets and now they are dying out because of the increase in internet sales and information. We could only contact someone by telephone or snail mail and had to wait sometimes days or weeks for an answer and now we can get parts or information about cars for sale in seconds.
When we were young a lot of us had muscle cars or sports cars and the need for speed and some still do.
The younger guys and gals will come into the hobby just as most of us did either by becoming the care taker of the family vehicle or a little later in life when we had some disposable income and could purchase one or two old cars to play with.
The old will move on and the young will take over just as before. When we were younger most of us purchased our cars from some old fart or from an old farts estate. Someday some young pup will show up at your door with stars in their eyes asking to purchase your car....and of course you'll say "Over my dead body! now get the heck out of here!" so then they will come back the following week and buy it from your widow for 1/2 the price!
The whole argument is moot. There were old owners and young owners in 1908. Since then many generations have come and gone while maintaining their vehicles. There's nothing special about current owners that didn't apply to past owners.
Restoring and using Model T's has evolved since I have been in the hobby for the last 50+ years. In the 1960's - 1980's most restorations were in wild colors, what I call clown car restorations, with little attempt toward authenticity. Sure there were a few, but they were not the majority as they are today.
Nowdays we have a much better knowledge of Model T history, and restoration quality at its all time best. If the trend continues we will see more and more leaning towards authentic restorations. Thanks to Russ Furstnow and the MTFCI for continuing to work toward more accurate information.
At the same time there is more attention paid to driving Model T's, restored or not. Model T's of today generally run better than those of twenty years ago, again due in large part to better information and services.
Hopefully someone picks up on Glen Chaffin's business legacy. Operations like his, and Mark Freimiller, Don Lang, Ron Patterson. John Regan, and so many others have allowed us to use restored original parts or like - original replacement parts that were not available before they entered the hobby.
I see any modern electronic device or anything made of plastic generally as a crutch until you know better.
I hope you're right, Royce, but I'm afraid it will go the other way. While there will always be exceptions, I think most kids nowadays are too used to our throw away society and used to high tech gadgets. Even if there is an interest in Model T's, I'm afraid too many will take the easy way out and go for the E-Timer or distributor with electronic ignition. Given the way purist are regarded on this very forum, to me, is a sign that originality is on the wane. Like I say, there will always be exceptions, but I think purity is going the way of the dodo.
I know I'm no longer a kid to most, now that I hit the half century mark, yet I know I, for one, was always interested in old things, mechanical things, old ways. From black powder, fur trade era to T era technology, it still fascinates me. And I'm not the only one. Younger newcomers are still being added to the ranks as some of the elder members fall away as time tends to do.
I bet there will always be some who go against the "modern" trends or interests. Just look at how much interest most any model T generates across all age groups just by sitting out in the open, or driving by. The T will always be loved and cared for. That's my prediction.
As for me being a young one I would say Money and time is a big issue at a young age. I was lucky in having awesome club members to help get me started with extra parts they had. Has for keeping the cars original with original parts and accessory's I prefer, because if something goes wrong, more then likely there some else before me has already had a problem and someone knows how to fix it. For example on my TT the owner before me put a distributer on it and I had a hard time with it running good till it would not run anymore and know in my club runs one so know one knew what the problem was, so after several trial and errors I found the problem and decided after that I would never personal change any Model T off coils. Not that I would any way, but I concreted it in that there a bad idea.
Money, time, and quick parts availability.
My kids are 17, 18, and 19. They like the idea of traditional. But they also like a little touch of aftermarket. Example: We are building a T from a pile of parts. We plan on staying with the T engine. As most of the original engine electrics is/are missing (coils, coil box, pick up, etc), we are going to put a distributor in it. This will be quicker and safe to say cheaper to get going this way.
However they are like me, they want to drive it. Not matter what or how it's powered. I taught them that a car is a car. No matter the price. They were designed to be driven, not trailer everywhere or kept in a garage.
Putting aside who is interested in the hobby and who is not I only see cars in the T's class slowly disappearing totally from the road. There are almost as many places you should not go in a T today as there are "safe' places. And that "safe" is mostly an illusion any way. Up dated 40's/70's cars is what what you'll see. Hell that's mostly what you see at local shows around here now. While modernized in some cases these cars can compete with most of what's out there. On their own terms so to speak. + the updated ones have every thing a modern does. Their 100% safer that any T and while they do cost a lot more it doesn't stop people from spending. No. Sorry. I think our wagon with a motor in it has seen better days.
As a newbie to the hobby, I face a decision on almost every part I need to resore or replace. As I did on my 42 GPW jeep, I tried to use original parts or reproductions that were as close to the originals as possible. But when it came to suspension, brakes, steering, etc., something that my life would depend on, I opted for modern hardware, nuts and bolts.
Even though my Model T is not driveable yet, from what I have read, living in Atlanta with the hills, traffic and more traffic, I see my resocreation of a WWI Light Patrol Vehicle as a trailer queen and parade only vehicle. And am resocreating it as such.
If I were to feel comfortable making this a Sunday driver, I would be taking a long look at modern brakes and ignition for a comfort level.
I am never intersted in building something that is judged by another human being. So I work on my Model T as if it will be in the MFT class for judging. It's My Frickin T. (MFT)
Having said al this, it is kind of a shame to see more Model T's on the road, but only at closed events and museum or reuinion type events. Tought to get new blood into the hobby when the hobby is kinda like the animals at the zoo. No easy answers. Maybe bring back, My Mother The Car?
Well, this is my take on it, I am about to put my '25 Roadster on the block, with trailer. It has had everything known to man done to a very good original car, but, none of my kids or grand kids are the least interested, no stereo, AC, you know the drill, so, after a very long time, I am going out of the T business, it has been a wonderful ride, close on to 90 years.
Saw a show on TV the other night about American Restoration. They restored an antique barber's chair for this guy to put in his Man Cave and watch football.
Yep. They installed cup holders.
It will be funny when the electric cars become the norm and people try to figure out how to convert the Model T to 300V DC. Will it be positive or negative ground?
I see the car/show/cruise culture as cancerous to the overall long term health of the old
car scene. Never have understood the competitive nature some people feel is necessary.
It's very basis is pitting people against others. Great for sports and wars, but old cars ???
I strongly believe in attraction vs. promotion, and putting old cars out there doing what
they were built to do, as opposed to car shows, competitive judging, or (to a lesser extent)
tours/cruises is the way to pique interest in those who might chance upon us as we go about
our business. Being open to being a mentor when that interested party comes along will go
a long way to letting the noobie see that this stuff is not just fun as car ownership, but a fun
social circle in which to be a part.
One thing I see happening is with a finite amount and shrinking availability of good used, and especially NOS parts, more and more Model T's over time will be using an ever increasing proportion of reproduction parts. I guess this is the nature of mechanical things that are still used 100 plus years later, but the consequence of this a hundred years from now may very well be that the T of the future will still be a "T", but in name only.
As for future interest in the hobby of restoring, building and or just keeping these cars going, that's a little more difficult. For me the love of antique and vintage cars wasn't something that was taught, it came from within via a life long fascination with anything old and mechanical. For the most part the youth of today is fascinated with electronics and the next new thing that the Mega Media Machine pushes. I didn't have those distractions. I loved to tinker and fix.
Charles, I PM'd you.
Modern electronic devices or anything made of plastic are a crutch until you know better.... unless, of course, they are made by an "accepted" vendor. Then they are must have items like the popular plastic coil box insert or modern electronic voltage regulator.
Keep hoping but that is reality and a strong deterrent to budding Model T parts entrepreneurs. Ask me how I know
I'm a 63 year old novice that enjoys a stock T for the history it holds. But the America of Henry Ford
Is not the flat paved street we parade on.
Diving a T... forces us to view the changes.
I prefer things to be simple,understandable and
Utilitarian. Perhaps, as I drive my T I might find
A bit of old America to cheer the soul. Mindful always that all original owners have passed.