Hi all. A local restorer sent me the following photos of a T coming to his shop. He would like any background you guys might have, regarding the body on this T. Yes, the photos are terrible. When the car is in his shop he'll send better ones. Looks like an aftermarket, commercially supplied body, versus a homemade one... I think. Whaddya say?
Several companies made something similar to that. Ames and Champion come to mind first, but I don't think it is either of them, based on memory. Somewhere, I have a list of almost fifty different companies that built and sold speedster bodies during the model T era. Most of them built more than one style. About half of the companies, I have at least one picture of. There must be hundreds of styles that I have never seen.
That car has a lot of potential!
The Champion that I used to have.
Here are a few I found similar.
The first four are by the ABC Body Co.
Tailor Made Body Co.
Wow Donnie, some of those Ace bodies look very close. can't wait to get some better photos. Thanks to all!
ABC Body Company was another one that came to my mind (after my first post). I was very pleased to see Donnie B's excellent post when I looked back in. Thank you!
Jerry VO, I do hope you post more pictures of it when you can! Way too few original speedsters survived anywhere near intact. While all of the six speedsters I have restored had some (or a lot) of remnant original speedster stuff in them, not one of them ever rose to the level of an intact original. One of the cars I had was put together from three distinctively different original cars, and individual pieces from several others. The car was almost entirely original speedster parts. I used to joke that "Not only was it an original speedster, it was at least three original speedsters!"
I know that thousands of speedsters were built during the model T era. Yet so few survive intact. I used to search swap meets for the bits and pieces of original speedsters. Sometimes, parts are easy to identify as speedster modified parts, sometimes all you can do is guess, it may just have well been a farm wagon part.
I have probably had an original piece of a hundred speedsters over the years. About half of them found their way onto the cars I restored.
I suspect that one of the reasons for the low survivor rate is that speedsters were probably second only to abandoned field wrecks in being sent to the scrap drives during the depression and WWII. Very few made it to the antique automobile hobby era.
Another factor. I know this because when I was a kid in this hobby, I talked to a lot of hobby old-timers that told me about this. While a few early hobbyists did restore original speedsters (I know of several), and a few others built nice speedster recreations, many original speedsters were parted out in the '50s and '60s in order to use the "good parts" to restore "proper factory built" antique cars. Many of the original parts I scrounged at swap meets were from cars that survived WWII only to be parted out a few years later. I was told this by people I bought a lot of parts from. The hobby as a whole did not catch up to considering speedsters as a real part of automotive history until the late '60s. I know several long-time speedster enthusiasts that credit Bruce McCalley as editor of the Vintage Ford with helping that acceptance.
Any original speedster, older restoration or untouched and rusty, should be presented as being special.
That is my opinion.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Wayne, I agree. Jerry, please post "lots" of photos when you can. Is this a "family car" you received. Or do you know any history about it.?? Its a very nice looking project ...
Just got a couple better photos. More to come later. I think the bead line in the cowl, that follows through across the hood is interesting. Otherwise looks like a stock hood. really a nicer looking body than the poor photos suggest! Any further thoughts???
Wonder what that long straight piece is that stretches at an angle across splash shield from bottom of right front fender back to bottom inside corner of right rear fender? Almost looks like two pieces of tubing of slightly different diameters. Top photos show that it has nothing like that on driver's side,....???
very nice. That car appears to be a very good "survivor" candidate. I know there are those here that want everything "shiny" and "new" looking, but that looks like a very good survivor. I believe the pipes are just laying on the running board and are not attached. Its hard to tell from the photo. Thanks for the pics ....
That larger photo is much better. Examining the details, IMO, this is a 'home built' example of the speedster. Rather nice built too.
The rounded 'bustle' back was popular in the early twenties, so that mates with the chassis features. The all Ford sheet metal makes sense for a home built too. And was made for travel, with those mudguards, open wheel speedsters are neat, but not too practical in the wet!
Has a homemade windshield frame, the stanchions made from angle iron too. A real commercial build would have a stout aftermarket frame and uprights.
With that stock hood, the builder used that dimensions for the body too, the cowl of the body mates with the hood lines, so the inside of that body is rather 'tight' to fit two persons I would think.
The lower trim under the body line hides the gap from the factory splash shields, and good looks from that feature. Seems like nails are holding that strip to the body wood frame, thinking that the body sits on its own wood rails on top of the T frame.
The rear got some treatment, maybe for a spare tire? Or to haul some luggage. Or just a folded out way to find the tools, or get to the gas tank. That feature might show the talent of the builder.
If the tank is stock or perhaps a special gas tank, or maybe a Steward vacuum system use.
That beading on the body and carried to the hood shows the craftsman had an English wheel or maybe just crafted that feature too. Wonder if the reinforcement bead around the body compartment is soldered to the metal or riveted?
But all in all a real nice example of period speedster, great lines, good looks, and should be a beauty restored. As for saving the patina, that is OK for museum, but if the owner wants it road worthy and back to the glam of when it was built by the proud owner, IMO, a restore is proper.
Did the after market body companies furnish the headlights also? They don't look to be typical T headlights.
That would be a rebuild in my book. Its a wonder it survived in as good of shape as it did.
Harold, I'll bet one is a fuel line, the other for air pressure.
Wow, that is one nice speedster! I'd love to putz around in something like that. No idea if it's an aftermarket or a home-job, but it's really well done.
Only the best of the aftermarket speedster bodies for Fords had special lamps. Among them would have been Mercury. Normally the owner used Ford, or maybe drum lamps during the twenties that were made to fit the Ford.
The headlamps look like Ford, but with special lens, don't think they are seal beam, that would have been much later. But seem to be aftermarket lens like McKee or Sunlight.
Dan, Im "on the fence" as to "home built" or "store bought". The plain simple lines do say to me, that it could be home built (although a very good home built) "but" there are lots of the aftermarket bodies shown in my sales catalogs and flyers that are cruder and more simple looking than that one. Ill agree that the windshield frame "may" be home built, but again there are versions of aftermarket bodies with simple windshield frames using board "fillers" at the bottom. The Taylor Made body shown in the ad above seems to show a "filler board" . Windshields were most always an "option" for the aftermarket bodies. So a lot of folks probably could have made their own, later after receiving the body ... The headlight lens look to be curved, similar to Royces "Popeye". Dan we must agree to disagree as to "full restore" or "save the patina". But that is the current owners decision anyway and everyone knows Im prejudice as to "keep the patina" Thanks again for the pics Jerry ....
I just noticed that the "Taylor Made" body show above has the same bead detail on their hood, as the hood shown in the photograph above. That is the only "Taylor Made" ad I have, but the description says "this is only one of our new models" So I would not rule out a different model of "Taylor Made"
It's Popeye's wild cousin!
My guess would be ...STORE BOUGHT ...the uniform features visible in the side view photo show a good fit and flow of the hood and cowl sections and side panels ...very hard to say for sure ...BUT...it looks like very good work that would probably require some extensive "Tinner" experience and access to fabrication tools...it would be interesting to examine the sub-structure for construction details ...is the possibly wood subframe as good as the sheet metal ? Merry Christmas all ...Gene French
Not McKee headlamp lenses in my opinion. My guess is HOME BUILT body but when I guess I am usually wrong.....
I am not sure what my opinion is worth, and without personally looking at corner and framework details, I wouldn't bet either way. However, I suspect that it was a purchased body.
The difficult thing about researching these things is that the companies that made them ran the gamut from well established carriage makers to tin-smiths and machine shops and even cabinetry builders. A handful of companies built full bodies in the multiple hundreds, maybe a few, more than a thousand bodies built. A couple dozen companies did enough advertising to find some real information about their products.
Much of that advertising did not provide much detail of the car or kit. A lot of the artwork was not to any scale, and clearly distorts the appearance of the finished car. It becomes very difficult to identify a builder or model of a surviving body when the advertisements do not give an accurate idea of what it should look like.
Bodies and kits also ranged from simple and crude, to finely built. Some body only kits were exactly that BODY ONLY. Some kits were sold including hood, lamps, fancy fenders, step plates, windshield and more. People (sometimes high school kids) would buy what they could afford from what they had saved up. Race-way, Paco, Faultless, Mercury were all a bit pricey. Some of those bodies cost as much as a new Ford car. Some of the others cost around fifty dollars then. (I wish I could buy a nice new one for that now)
People would often buy the body and a few other things, then add accessories over the next couple years. Some cheap bodies were made to fit with the Ford hood in order to keep their advertised price down. They may then offer a "more stylish" hood, which they would offer for a few more dollars to both their speedster customers as well as the owner of a touring or coupe that wants to dress it up a bit. (I would love to find a hood like that one to fit my '24 coupe!)
In my opinion? I feel that this particular car already is beyond the point where it truly should be preserved as a never been restored car. It should at least be made driveable, and reliable, the wood framework must be stabilized and protected (some of it likely would have to be replaced). The rust must be stopped.
By the time all this is done, how truly original is the car really?
If someone chooses to return this car to a proper preservation state? I would love it! On the other hand, if someone did a full high quality restoration on the car? As long as they did it properly (proper colors, accessories all era correct, and basically how THIS car WAS)? I think I would love it just a little more.
That is my opinion.
I can hardly wait to see what Jerry VanO does with this!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
I truly wish it was up to me to do anything with this car! Fact is, it's a local guy who contacted me about it. He's restoring it for somebody who just recently bought it. He's looking for some guidance on it. I'm supposed to go look at it some time soon. I'll bring my camera!
I'd vote to keep it as-is, with only necessary repairs, but the rear end looks a little too messed up. Donnie would be just the guy to blend in repair, but he's got his projects. ;O)
Thanks for all the excellent feedback!
The bottom one in this ad looks close.Has seam where door would be,bead on cowl,6 louvers on hood and you can buy it with or without headlights,top or windshield.Just my guess. I'm going with store bought.
James A S, Thank you for posting that ad! I remember seeing it long ago, but do not recall where. I don't see a manufacturer's name anywhere on that. It does mention shipping "from factory near Chicago". The bottom one does look very much like Jerry V O's posted car, certainly well within the margins of advertising artistic license.
And only $45.00 for the basic body kit!
I would love to buy one for that. But I think I can be happy with my boat-tail/torpedo roadster. Even if I never do find the exact one in an ad.
Thanks again, to all!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
David, there is our tire carrier!
Larry, I'll be darn'd, I didn't notice it at first, yep there she is!