Was going through some old Facebook posts and came upon this image. This was my 1919 T after flipping it when I was cut off in traffic here in Rochester. After the accident the car was mothballed in my garage for six years until I found a great early set of seats at Hershey and decided to rebuild it as a proper speedster using all parts as would have been found in a junk yard in the early 1920s.
How are you?
Good to hear you lived through it!
I would start by determining what year you have. With stamped running board supports and an oval gas tank, a 1919 it aint. 1920 maybe.
Yes, the frame has later running board brackets .. I actually put them on there because they were stronger. It's a speedster ... there are no rules. The engine was 1919 and so that's how it was titled. The important element of this post was actually the accident.
Well then you could tell us more about the grisly details and the aftermath. Frame sprung ? What broke ? What was bent you fixed ?
I knew you had crashed but didn't want to ask.
Wow and thank you.
Probably happened more than we think back in the T era. It doesn't take much to bend one up since Model T's are pretty much a 'piece of tin and a piece of board' as the old saying goes.
I wonder if the body shops back in those days would repair a turned over Coupe or Sedan. I can only imagine what I would do if I flipped my 24 Coupe and folded over the top half of the body.
Mark that looks awful. I bet things would have been much worse if you had been wearing a seat belt !
Glad you are still here to write, photograph, and teach!
I had just done a valve job and was testing the car going up a hill at a good clip towards an intersection. The person in front of me signaled right at an intersection. She turned and I began to accelerate up the hill through the intersection ... and then she changed her mind and turned left back into traffic. I had a choice between being hit by her ... driving into oncoming traffic ... or gunning it and making a hard left at the intersection. I made the left turn. Luckily the T was well tuned and got out of the way of the oncoming traffic.
I could feel the left rear wheel come off the ground and expected it to right itself .. but it kept going. I stayed with the car and fell between the seat and firewall. My passenger was thrown from the car and ended up on a lawn on the opposite side of the intersection.
The next thing I knew I was on my back, under the car with gas dripping on me. I was pinned down and couldn't move. In about five minutes a firetruck showed up; they lifted the T, pulled me out and strapped me into a gurney. Then off to the hospital. My passenger went in another.
The right front fender, radiator, hood, firewall, steering column and seat were destroyed. Interestingly ... the frame and front wheel were ok.
Amazingly neither of us broke any bones or had any external cuts. Internally we were also ok. But for months afterwards we both got up out of chairs very slowly. The week after the accident I was in the South of France teaching a workshop at the site where the worlds first photograph was taken. By that time I was seeing the effects of deep bruising ... lots of purple, brown and yellow marks all over my body. Everything hurt. Was miserable on the flight home two weeks later.
The garage that picked up my car after the accident drove past my house (two blocks from the accident) to their holding area across town. I had to pay $75 to have them bring it back to my house. It remained mangled in my garage for several years until I finally found enough parts ... and the mindset to put it back together.
Having experienced this, do you feel you would have fared better had you or your passenger had seat belts? Say it had been a Touring car, do you feel a child in a car seat strapped in the back seat with their head above the level of the tub been better or worse off than having been thrown out?
I suspect that had I had a seat belt on at the time of this accident I would have been killed instantly. My head was the highest thing in the car before the accident ... after the accident it would have been the lowest thing if it was still attached.
This was what the T looked like before the accident. I didn't have the windshield assembly or the folding stage on the back on the car at the time of the accident.
Thanks, Mark. I suspect the same thing. I cringe every time someone posts pictures on here of their grandkids sitting in car seats in the back of a Touring car. Their heads are definitely the highest thing in the car. And you know dang well what would happen if it turned turtle. They're gambling with those kids' life that it won't turn over. I think your experience shows just how easy it can happen.
Our kids were just early enough, that car seats for them as well as seat belts were not required. Our daughter (middle child) was only about two pounds short of required weight when they became mandatory, both boys already over minimum weight. So we just missed all that. A very good friend and his wife had their one and only child a bit over a decade later. He mounted the car seat on the rear floor of his touring car which worked well for protection. Although it limited their daughter's view. Their daughter turned out fine regardless. She is in college now. Fortunately, he never did test that plan however.
I know there are some that disagree with me on this. My feeling is that seat belts might be a good idea in an enclosed car (coupe or sedan). Personally, I still choose against installing them. But they are a roll of the dice gamble in a touring car or roadster. I do not want them in a car that could land onto its top near my waist high. Most speedsters, and open delivery type vehicles like Mark O's was? I would no more want seat belts on something like that than I would want a seat belt on a motorcycle.
Ralph Ricks (RIP) insisted on seat belts in his little delivery truck. He also insisted that his passenger wear them. But his situation was slightly different. The car was modified for speed and braking ability to drive in Los Angeles traffic. His brakes could pretty well throw anyone out of the passenger seat.
Everyone must consider their circumstances, and the probabilities that surround them. Then make the best decision they think they can.