I recently had the opportunity to purchase a nice rare '17 Coupelet. There are three known. Brought it home yesterday. It runs like a raped ape, but that isn't my style. The car body was set on a '22 chassis in '22, and therefore, even though it's fine for now, I plan to bring it back to original eventually. For the time being, I'll try to keep my hands off it! I'm currently looking for all the correct chassis parts to bring it back to original, including the correct frame, which I believe was used only in '17-18.
Wow! I think I heard about that car maybe 40 years ago. I recall the story of a rare early coupe on a '22 chassis. I don't recall now if it was told in the 'Vintage Ford' or if I heard it somewhere else.
Congratulations to you, and the car. I am glad it got one of the best homes a model T can have.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Is this the one owned by two spinster sisters in Ohio (?) that they owned since it was new and had upgraded over the years until they passed away?
congrats Larry, I'm sure you will have it "right" in no time. Nice ride.
Congratulations! I suspect with only 3 of them being known that only one of those would have been mounted on a 1922 chassis. And looking at the photos in the Vintage Ford article that starts on page 13 of the Mar – Apr 1989 issue, as well as the reprint in Bruce’s book starting on page 244, it has the same spot light as the car in the article and the same box on the running board. And they both have the large rear brake drum rear axle. The probability is 99.99% sure that it is the same car. But we will let Larry confirm that there is only one known 1917 Coupelet with those upgrades. Below is a photo from page 17 of that Mar-Apr issue (used by permission to promote our club and hobby).
And below is the story Don Black shared in his article in that same issue:
This Ford Coupe originally came to light quite
unexpectedly in about 1970. Two spinster sisters,
both ex-school teachers, lived in an old and decrepit
house outside of Cleveland, Ohio. For years
neighbors thought that the two women were in
need, and would bring them food regularly, as well
as check up on them for their safety and other
concerns or needs. When one was taken from the
house on a cold winter’s day, suffering from frost
bite, and the other being unable to take care of
herself any longer, the property was put up for sale.
When the local sheriff and a court-appointed
attorney (with proper credentials) entered the
house, they were amazed at what they found.
Under the mattress, in small sealed envelopes
found throughout the house, and in hiding places,
they found a total of over $360,000 in cash, gold
With no relatives to be found, the house was
opened to the public. For a one dollar admission
price, anyone could look over what was left of the
personal belongings which were to be auctioned.
Witnesses said that other than for a few pieces of
antique furniture, there wasn’t really anything of
value. Then the garage was opened - and there it
was: a very well kept old Ford Coupe. But this Ford
Coupe was definitely different from other Ford
Coupes. This was one of a very few made with this
particular body style during 1917 before the change
to the more standard- appearing traditional model
Coupe of that era.
The difference? The top is rounded and soft on
the corners. Subsequent models had a flat, hard
when removed, open up the area between the
windshield and the rear quarter; the first “hardtop”
Over the years the ladies had their Ford
updated. In 1922 they had the non- starter 1917
engine replaced with a new 1922 starter model.
Sometime along the way the accessory dash board,
with a speedometer and later style light and
ignition switch assembly. Bulbs were added to the
oil side lights, with a wire that goes through the
cowling. A spotlight was added. The rear end was
replaced with the later (1926) style with the larger
brake drums. The front axle now has the later
“wishbone” and the wheels were changed to the
demountable type. The body is near perfect, as solid
as it was when new. Doors and wood are absolutely
So Larry, can you confirm that the chassis is 1922 or could it be the 1917 frame with the upgraded 1922 starter engine assembly and 1926 large drum axle? I would think a 1922 would have the pressed steel running board brackets, drilled for the battery carrier etc. I do not see the earlier style running board rods running across the underside of the chassis in the photo from the article on page 14. (Again photo used by permission.)
If it is a 1922 chassis, I wonder what the chances are that the dealer sold them the car that way back in 1922 or if they moved the body from the sister’s previous car? We will probably never know the answer to that one. But you should be able to confirm if the chassis is 1922 and matches the time frame of the engine or not.
Again, what a great car!
Hap l9l5 cut off
Ok ok ok, is THIS a "doctor's coupe"???? Lol, jk. Great looking car.
I don!t think Larry is a Doctor, not sure, therefore, it is not a Doctor!s coupe. Once painted a '29 Lincoln ffor a Poditrist, it was Doctor!s coupe.He used to joke about it.
Congrats Larry. As we all know, unsolicited advice is often considered criticism
With that said, personally, I would consider not changing out the later parts of the car. We have a somewhat similar situation with our early Model N (Hap, you're well aware of this story....). It was "upgraded" sometime between 1907 and 1915 to include running boards and a third seat (rumble). Initially we considered returning it to "original."
However, after a while I decided "why hang period correct parts on the car to make it look original," when it in fact was original as it had been maintained and used "in the day."
Just a thought. It's your car to enjoy, and it has a great history. Thank you for sharing,
My 2c ! That's the beauty of the internet. The history of anything is forever on the internet. So if something is changed the old history is still there.
Nice car let us know if you find any gold under the seat!
I hope my post doesn't come off wrong. I still have moments when I think we should bring our car back to it's factory original condition. There's no right or wrong answer.
This T is in the right hands (Larry) and whatever he decides to do, the car's history and documentation will be preserved for the foreseeable future. This is one of my favorite body styles, and indeed a rare bird. Thank you again for sharing.
This is the same car that is in the current issue of the Vintage Ford, and is also in Bruce's book. I'm the third owner since that article. Unfortunately the Washington owner chose to remove the black paint from the wood which I hate, but it's going to stay that way for now, because I'm restoring a '13 runabout now. While working on the '13, it will give me time to collect the necessary parts to bring it back. It sure is different owning a closed car, after owning nothing but open cars.
Larry, Great to see that you have it.
Can you elaborate on how the 17-18 frames are unique.
It's a little hard to tell, but I'm sure I detect a pretty big smile under that bushy stash! Congrats, Larry, on a terrific buy!
Larry congratulations!! What a great car with awesome history of the two school teachers and the updates. Really cool car.. Tim
More Photos PLEASE as progress continues
If this is the car in the description (page 17 of that Mar-Apr issue) and not a replica - which is difficult to know as it appears that with the exposed wood pillars the car was "restored" at some point. So if this is the car from the article, and there is documentation, then the car has provenance and a pedigree. There is no need for additional changes or restoration. It is unique and there is no need to take it back to "original" specifications.
I am with Rob, .... this car has incredible provenance as a period updated car. Retrofitting it would
only destroy that wonderful and documented history. It's not like it was rodded or something. This is
that classic spinster sisters kind of story where all the work was done by careful and loving original
owners and not some botch job.
Paint the wood black and enjoy owning an incredibly unique piece of American history.
DITTO on what Burger said. I am all for original but this better than original. If it were mine, it would get black wood and nothing else. I would only add a copy of the Vintage Ford with the story to this car.
I loaned my copy of the new Vintage Ford to someone, and can't remember who, so I had to buy another copy. Old age! The gas tank door is unique, and has a convex bulge in it, because the gas tank is higher than the seat platform! There is a neat tool compartment in back of the gas tank with all kind of old tools, but none of them appear to be correct for the car. There is a lot to learn about here. I'll keep everyone posted.
So what would be the difference in the frames compared to my 16 coupelet's? Also your trunk lid has a different handle then my 16, it has a key only no handle.
Please post some interior shots when you get a chance.
It's not mine but i would leave it as found/bought.I think the varnished wood really makes it look sharp!! Do all model T's need to look dull and drab?? Thank you for the look at a very nice model T!! Bud.
With it's history known if it were mine I would leave it alone. But it's not mine so do as you please. What a neet story on it's life.
If we could only know the story of the ones we own now...
Brian in Reseda also has a 17 coupelet with a 22 frame with the oddest looking wheels that look like springs. Maybe he will shoot me if I remembered wrong on the frame year but it is a beautiful car. His dad sits on the front seat all the time. ( His ashes in an earn.) Enjoy that beauty. Frank
So is this the Coupelet which Brian Ostergren had, or are there two of the 4 or 5 known '17 Coupelet bodies sitting on '22 chassis?
I don't consider the recent varnishing of the wood parts an improvement, so I'd paint them black, as they originally were. But I don't know whether it's necessary to change out the later chassis, as that is part of the car's history from when it was nearly-new.
It's a nifty car, for sure! Too nice for you, Larry.
Philip B. -- Apparently the turtle handle was added at some time. The '17 cars had different firewall brackets, so there were additional holes added to the frames for those. There is also a hole for a front fender bracket which the earlier cars didn't have. Those are the only differences I know of; maybe someone else knows some more.
My 18 has holes for both 15/16 and 17/18 firewalls, but nothing for a battery carrier.
WOW !!! What a neat score ! Congrats Larry.
Thanks for the clarification Mike, my mom has a frame that my grandpa purchased years ago. It's marked "coupelet" so I don't know if it came from one or he just had it marked that way to identify where it was going to eventually.
Is the frame marked with a stencil, like this?
No it's handwritten.
Don K. -- That's what Larry was referring to when he said that '17-'18 frames were different from earlier and later ones. They have holes for both types of firewall brackets and none for the battery carrier.
This car is steeped in a unique and awesome history. It is therefore priceless as it sits. I would not disturb this gem in its current condition. Enjoy the car and thanks for sharing this story!
It appears all questions have been answered correctly by others, so I don't need to do it! The handle on the lid was added at a later date I'm sure. How I managed to get the car is when Bryan Ostergrens dad passed away, I sent a letter to Clara Jo expressing an interest in the car. When Bryan was going through some of Clara Jo's papers, he found the letter and called me. I bought the car the following weekend.
With the cars history....it may be wise to leave it as configured by the original owners. The parts that you would replace would not be the parts that originally came on this car....only correct for the year/model. Some thing to think about!