Hi to all, Im 57, new to the board and have always wanted to build a Model T, and recently moved to Aiken SC. For the first time I have garage space with some machine tools and other resources but I would appreciate before buying one nut or bolt for the project to get some feedback from experienced builders, namely an outline of how to proceed. Does one look for parts opportunistically or build from the frame up? Will the engine pool dry up first or the body parts? Should I take three months off and travel the county to acquire likely parts or hunt via the internet? Those sorts of questions are on my mind. Thanks in advance for any help..Mike in Aiken SC
I think before some of the questions you listed can be answered there's a bigger question to answer first. What is you objective? Do yo want to end up with a nice, but perhaps not absolutely perfect, driver or are you aiming for a "perfect" show quality cat?
That should be quality car, not cat.
Maybe a good quality well behaved cat would be cheaper...
For what it's worth, my advice would be to buy a whole Model T that actually runs. And as long as the price is not "way-out" unreasonable, it really doesn't matter how poorly it runs, just so it runs. A running car at least tells you a little more of what you've actually got, and you can then at least make "improvements" in better priority order and as can be afforded. Plus, especially someone just getting into the hobby, a running car will have less chance of discouraging its owner much more that a dead hulk with no obvious starting point,....again,.....FWIW,.....harold
"Well behaved cat"??? Does such an animal exist? Remember, to cats we're just Staff.
Do you already have a car? What period are you interested in (Brass, Black, or Late?
Too many questions!! Oh, and welcome to "The Affliction."
buy something running so you can play into the hobby improve and move building from parts might be a real long and costly once you are driving around you will realize your choice was right
Yes, I second all of the comments recommending you buy a runner. There are plenty out there for less than $10K. As a teenager I made the mistake of buying a very cheap, non running Model A that needed EVERYTHING and got overwhelmed by the project. Then life happened and it all got put on hold for a few decades.
I have gone with a running car, a basket case and a put together from parts and it was all fun. That said, the most fun was having a running car while I was working on the basket case. Putting a car together with parts was also fun but probably wouldn't have been without 30 years of accumulating the parts to do it. Find a decent running car, use it and enjoy it as you upgrade it until you get it where you want it to be. If you have the room and the money pick up a project to play with at the same time. Putting a car together from parts is an expensive proposition because the sum of the parts is much greater than the whole unless you already have everything you need.
Likely best to get a poorly or non-running complete T, preferably with a body style you care for, like a touring to haul more than 2 friends. Or maybe a speedster for two
But, it still is a lot of fun to gather parts, this project began as a rusty '26 touring body, and found fenders.
What started it.
Then acquired a complete '27 chassis.
Chassis in trailer ready to roll in garage.
Lots of fun labor, parts hunting, and spending $$ got the pile of parts to finish.
But...would have been cheaper and faster to have just bought a running touring car.
The most important thing I think is for you to get a good book on Model T Fords . Like The car That Changed The World by Bruce W McCalley . You are going to need to really be dedicated to the job ahead . You must pick a car you like , in order for you to enjoy the work a head . Buy a complete car . It needs to have almost all its parts ,because Model T's parts changed often . To most people Model T's from 1917 to 1925 all look a like . They are not and there parts do not interchange . It takes a long time to be able to look at a part and know what year it go's to . That's what makes restoring a T so much fun .Good luck with your project .
"Build" is a term that hotrodders use. The use of the term has become prevalent with the general public due to the proliferation gearhead shows on cable tv.
Based on conversations at car shows, I've come to the conclusion that the a majority of the general public believes that any antique car that exists today was recently assembled from scavenged parts.
"That's a nice build."
"Did you build that?"
"How long did it take you to build that?"
"What are you currently building?"
On a serious note, you'll be money and time ahead and endure substantially less headaches if you find a complete car for the basis of your project.
Find yourself a fairly complete running T. Then take it apart down to the frame or a much as it needs to be to start cleaning up and restoring the parts.
That's probably the less time consuming way to do it.
I have built a 1919 Roadster and a 21 Touring using the correct parts to do it that's pretty much correct for the particular year.
It can be done but it takes a little longer by going to swap meets to find the engines and etc.
I did 2 that way just to see if I could and I did!
If I was to build another T I would find a fairly decent T and do it that way. Less time and leg work involved.
And by the way there are a lot of T's out there that been have been built up from a pile of parts. Have fun!
I have bought complete running cars, and I've bought "projects". Guess what. I've found plenty to fix up on the running cars, and have kept plenty busy on them while the projects are still projects. I would go with a complete running T for two reasons. 1 You can drive and enjoy it right away, even as you deal with fixes it's likely to need; 2 It will cost a lot less than "building a project" from the ground up.
Erik,.....good point. Maybe "re-build" would fit better, but then that's getting pretty close to "restore", to which it could be said that there's a fine line between "restore" and "preserve", and quite often, a project is actually a combination of restoration and preservation, so,.....how 'bout,....just,...."fix up" an old car!
My father has been in the antique car hobby since 1948. Whenever he gets questions with "build" in them, he always responds he has never built anything which is followed by a puzzled look from the inquirer.
I have a project 27 roadster that started by buying a body and then a 27 frame then fenders,motor,ect.. A couple years ago i purchased a original 27 roadster that had a nice restoration by the previous owner and have enjoyed it even though it needed a few minor things but as stated above you will have less out of pocket buying a running driving T. Plus you can enjoy and learn to drive and repair it at the same time. They all need something done to them. I still enjoy looking for the parts to finish the project.. Tim
Start with frame and axles. Build up from there.
I bought a reasonably complete, reasonably solid, non-running '26 Touring in 2013 for a pretty good price. Several thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours later, I appear to be on course to finish the car this year. It would have been significantly easier and much, much cheaper to buy a running, driving car, but it wouldn't have been mine. I've bled on this car, sweated on this car, know every nut and bolt on it. It will be mine forever. That is very special to me.
I think the general consensus is that your first car should be a complete and driving car, but I guess it depends on your level of mechanical ability and patience.
When I was in college I wanted a Model T. I was of the mindset that I could buy a frame for a few bucks and restore it, then a rear axle, then a front axle, etc etc until I had collected a complete chassis. Would have saved me space because I wouldn't have as much laying around, and I thought seeing progress on such small chunks would be better than seeing all the other parts laying around that I hadn't done anything with yet. However, I kept an open mind and found the roadster pickup on eBay for a decent price. I'm glad I went that route, because I could tweak and tune it and still drive it during the fall semester and during the winter I could start a semi-serious restoration. I'm still doing small projects with her here and there, but for the most part she's a completely restored driver.
I've heard it said that a true Model T enthusiast has three cars: One that's up for a drive, one that's in the process of being restored, and enough parts laying around to build a third chassis you had to.
Yes, the satisfaction of assembling/restoring a project, sweating and knowing every nut and bolt, is a point in favor of that approach. The question is whether it should be your first or second Model T experience. With the advantage of having experienced both approaches, I vote second.
Hi Michael. We lived in Aiken SC till we retired to Ecuador in April 2013. We sold our well sorted 27 roadster for $6995 as an example. The South Carolina club should be able to hook you up with something and Smith and Jones are by the airport in Columbia. They probably have leads too.
Jared the last sentence of your post is true! Over the years myself and others have accumulated
enough parts to build 'another' T.
I inherited my 24 Coupe from my Grandfather in the mid 50's.
That car put the T bug in me and I finally restored it in the late 90's.
Meanwhile I was buying and collecting pieces and parts to build more T's.
Living in the country T remains were on most farms and rural junkyards. They still are but not as much. I guess I was lucky that my Grandfather left me the Coupe to get me started.