Hello, ancient and noble knights of the Flivver. Greetings from a transplanted Carolinian deep in the heart of Texas.
I'm eighteen years old and considering getting a car one day. Currently I'm in Catholic seminary studying for the priesthood. That means I have a wonderful education and little money.
Since I was seven or eight (a conservative estimate) my dream car was a Ford Model T, and since I haven't a roaringly huge income I must confess that whatever car I buy is to be my only automobile. (365 Days of A on Youtube didn't help this little craving.)
Driving at 45 doesn't bother me. I drive slowly when possible, and love traveling along in an auto as much as I enjoy getting to the destination.
I consider myself fairly mechanically inclined, and can repair all sorts of antique machinery given a screwdriver & oilcan, and a few good parts. A Model T might be slow and balky (So it sounds like) but I can live with driving 40 or 45 highway speeds. (Though avoiding Eisenhower's nightmare highway system at all costs.)
Am I insane to want to do an antique Ford as my once and future machine?
BTW--I was thinking mid to late 1920s. The black era cars are my favorite style. A Model A would be another contender but if I could learn more about a T, that would be the one I would enjoy.
Keep your compression up,
if you retain your excitement for a "T", I have no doubt that you will one day own one, and will love it.
I will not be the one to encourage you to purchase one as your first car, though. I will, however, encourage you to find and join a "T" club. Take some rides...talk to some owners...experience the slow pace of life (30-35 MPH) and the serious lack of brakes (by modern standards) that a "T" will provide. In 6 months, you'll be able to answer your own question and not rely on us to sell you on or dissuade you from your dream.
Best of luck to you in your education, future career and your car shopping.
Your not insane. Can't put a price on the fun you'll have owning a piece of history. I'd look into the later ones (less wood to deal with) and find a refurbished one that is ready to go. I'm in the process of assembling a 26 RPU and I'm enjoying the work involved in getting this back on the road, but it's been frustrating at times. Would have been smarter to buy one that was roadworthy but after I'm done, I'm sure it will be worth the effort. Whatever route you choose, Have fun.
Thanks for the prompt reply.
The car question has been kicking in my head since before I got my license--it always keeps coming back to the Model T for some reason. Which is odd. No one in the family has or had an antique car.
As for your advice, I'm going to do that--find a Model T club and go from there. Hope I can get in without having to own a car first.
Welcome to the forum Charles, its always nice to see the younger generation getting into the T hobby. I have to agree with Scott that a T is probably not the best idea as a daily driver, its best suited as a car that you can tinker with and enjoy slow leisurely drives in. Although very tough and simple by most standards, its a lot more complicated in other ways, just ask the mechanic at your local garage. My advice, for what it is worth is to buy a cheap dependable car to get you around in, and then chase the T of your dreams without worrying about it having to be your only means of transportation. Best of luck, and hope to see you here as a future T owner.
Dave and John gave you some good advice. You have probably over 8 Model T clubs in TX. Some more of the MTCCI variety. The one that looks closest might be the Dallas FtWorth club. I am sure they would welcome you and you don't have to own a T just be interested in cars to join. There's some very good guys in that club.
My thinking is a daily driver for someone of your age you need a car that everyday no mater what will start and get you to where you have to go that day and by the time you have to be there and is cheap...
My T would do that but that's because I've spent many hours and $$$$ to make it more dependable but I wouldn't use it everyday and many aren't like that.
There are many many $1000. modern cars or less around here that run but don't look so hot with someone with a little mech skill can fix up and keep running. Your Model T then can be your cherished car you plan to keep and enjoy learning about and work on to restore to a reliable condition while you enjoy learning all about the joy of owning a Model T Ford.
You'll then know when an antique car is right for you. Glad to hear from You
Hey Charles.......Father Charles not so far down the line? ;)
I'm the organist at the local Catholic church where I had (have) a good friend, Fr. Joe, who's big interest is STEAM.
So much so he bought a Nichols & Shepard steam traction engine but I digress.
At any rate I'm not so sure your ONLY car should be a T........it hurt to say that.
I drive my '27 Tudor T often but I also drive my '32 and '59 Chevs too.
If you are set on a Ford I recommend looking for a Model A one of which I also had.
Have you come across anyone down there with either?
I also HIGHLY recommend trying to get a chance to drive one of each.
T's aren't for everyone.
I say that with absolute confidence as I've seen the terrified look on the faces of two licensed pilots who wanted a crack at driving a Model T.
Those few moments behind the wheel settled that in a hurry........ LOL
Whatever you happen to do don't be a stranger!
I have driven a model T as regular transportation for years; first a 1919 speedster in various forms and most recently a stock 1923 runabout. I live in the city of Rochester, New York and work at a museum, where the tourists like to see the car in the parking area. The cold doesn't bother me in the winter, but a T is not particularly good on ice packed asphalt, so when it's not good driving weather or I need to haul materials or rare objects I use my modern car.
The T is a very reliable car as long as you really understand the mechanical parts. I built my previous T up from parts and the '23 I bought unrestored last November ... disassembled ... and completely rebuilt. I know every bolt and part. Because of this I have a sense of what it will do and when it doesn't sound or act right. Troubleshooting is part or regular maintenance. So ... I think you should buy a T that you can work on as a project and find someone down there who can guide you.
I hate to burst you bubble but as a daily driver you will need 2 not one, I know this comes as sad news. If you should break something then you would be completly without transportation. I have never had a T as my only car but I have used one as a primary car, it can be done.
Where I live the speed limit is 45 on the only road, you have to travel 3 miles in one direction before the speed limit increases to 50 and then it bounces between 35-50 for the next hundred miles depending on time and location. In the other direction its 6 miles before it increases to 55 and then 25 miles before you reach the mainland and options. Although it sounds like perfect T roads it is far from it, the problem is the other drivers. You really need a car that will run at 45-50 comfortably otherwise over enough time you will be in an accident or cause one. This brings up a host of problems as a stock T really should be "upgraded" to be run with other cars on the road for safety. If you live in the middle of nowhere and won't be interacting with other drivers than its a different story.
Some options to consider brakes, gearing (overdrive), mild hp increase (flathead), 12V, and distributor
I drive a Model T almost every day. One of my favorite things is an after-dinner evening cruise. But I have to agree with the guys who say it may not be your best choice as an only car. There's a reason folks used to say FORD meant Fix Or Repair Daily. You may indeed go several weeks or months with no problems, but there are going to be times when the car needs some time off for you to deal with something that needs attention. That may be for a few hours. Or days. Sometimes even weeks.
A Model T that's already in proper shape for reliable daily use most of the time is likely to cost as much as (or more than) a very reliable modern car that's six or seven years old. A Model T that costs appreciably less than that is likely to eat up your time and dollars getting it in proper shape.
Speeds: 40 to 45 mph seems slow in a modern car. In a Model T that's pushing things. The T may go that fast, but it doesn't like to. Most T's are comfortable at 30 to 35 MPH, or in the high thirties on a good road. I suspect this will not be a problem for you, and you'll have no trouble getting used to it.
Yes, get into a local club. Get some experience riding in Model T's. Even better, get some experience driving them. If that sets the hook, as I expect it will, you'll soon be saving up dough to get one of your own.
Welcome to the forum Charles. I'm new to T's, but have been messing around with old cars since I was a kid (I'm 48).
I've used everything from a 29 Model A to a Plymouth Valiant (and a wide assortment in between) as daily drivers off and on since I was in high school. And, it is a novel way to get around, but I wouldn't recommend it for a few reasons.
First, it greatly increases the odds that someone is going to wreck your sweet car because you'll be driving your antique a lot and because you'll be driving your antique during commuting hours when people tend to be more aggressive and careless (because they have work and school-related things on their minds). I had three of my antiques hit by careless drivers, one of which was totaled beyond repair.
Second, the old girl is going to break down. But Don, you say, people drove Model T's as daily drivers when they were new and they broke down then. That is true, but in those days, Model T mechanics were everywhere as were parts, spare engines, etc, and a T was likely to be back up and running in a jiffy. If your T goes down with a serious ailment these days, it may take you a while to get it going again.
Third, I've learned over the years, that I enjoy my old cars more when they're not my daily drivers. When they're a diversion that's apart from the thing that demands my focus M-F, 8-5pm, they truly become a way for my brain to slow down and well, heal a little bit.
It's worth noting that you're going into the profession that deals with healing hearts and minds, and it might seem at first glance that a priest wouldn't need a diversion. On the contrary, I think that a minister would likely need a complete diversion more than the average bear.
So now I keep a cheap, reliable car as my daily driver and a few antiques as my diversion from my high stress job in the Houston oil industry. I daydream often about my 24 Model T, 54 Ford Mainline and 66 F100 during the week and totally immerse myself in them when I have time to myself. My daily drivers take a lot of abuse in the form of wear and tear and sometimes more. In fact, this happened (see photo below) to my 2013 Ford Escape a couple weeks ago. If one of my antiques had been the victim of the careless driver, I would've been heartbroken, but since it was my non-descript, soulless Escape, it was just a minor irritation.
I wish the best for you in your career and hobby.
Charles, welcome to "the club"! All good advice above, so I don't need to duplicate the effort. But wishing you well in your vocational effort. We need more Priests! You'll get there, both the collar, and the car! Or even cars. God Bless and good luck!
I would suggest getting a modern older car to be your daily driver then buy yourself a model I as your 'hobby car.'.
I have 3 that I've restored over the years and they are my hobby cars which I drive and have fun with.
One thing to remember is they are close to 100 yr old technology and learning about their weak points is important.
First of all and most important is they don't have real brakes as more modern cars do. Driving 35-45 mph and coming to a stop IS NOT the same as you would do in more modern vehicles. Especially in traffic. You will find out about that as time goes by!
Its a great fun hobby to get into and you will have great fun in it.
To Craig Anderson (and anyone here who is interested), There is a website - steamingpriest.com by a Catholic priest who is seriously into live steam small-gauge railroading.
Perhaps there is a priest/minister gene that likes old stuff. I have mentioned Episcopal father Ellis in my neighborhood when I was growing up. He was big into the Stanley steam cars.
Charles F, welcome to the forum.
I'm an ordained minister in New Orleans and drive a 1950 Ford F1 as my daily driver (or 53 ch3vy). My wife and I are still restoring our 26 T so haven't driven it yet but old vehicles need repairs. In one sense, it is way cheaper than paying a car note but more expensive in mechanical time. The old truck allows me to meet people I normally wouldn't have a chance talking with and it being a truck, serves as a ministry in itself.
It would depend on how far your daily drive is and what the traffic and speed limits are. Also whether you could walk or take a bus to your destination. If it is a short distance and the speed limits are low and traffic light, a T would make a good daily driver. But since most auto repair places, even including Ford dealers are not familiar with the Model T and since the local auto parts store doesn't stock parts, I would recommend that you use a more modern car as your daily driver and use the T on occasion. You would need to do most of the minor repairs yourself.
In the 21st Century, a Model T Ford simply will not do as a person's only car. -First of all, it's not really a car; it's a horseless carriage whose systems date back to The Brass Era. -Under anything but ideal conditions—and by that I mean dry, level roads, bright sunshine, warm temperatures and a complete absence of precipitation—the Model T Ford, like virtually all Brass Era cars, is downright dangerous. -These cars don't have crumple-zones, and when they take a solid hit, they simply fly apart. -If you get into an accident with that car, you're going to be harmed. -Period.
The Model T Ford is even less safe than a motorcycle because it does not possess a motorcycle's maneuverability, nor its ability to accelerate out of danger. -But like a motorcycle, it has really lousy wet-weather utility. -It has no windshield wipers, no defroster or heater, no air-bags or seat-belt/shoulder-harnesses, no collapsible steering column, no head-restraints; it doesn't even have bumpers. -And the Flivver has brakes like the Titanic. -A Model T Ford, basically, has the performance and utility of a golf kart that needs a new set of brakes. -Oh—and forget about going up moderately steep hills.
But no, Model T owners are not all crazy. -Matter of fact, we, along with the great majority of horseless carriage owners, can boast of an enviable safety record. -How can that be? -Well, first of all, because our exposure is minimal. -Most of us put less than 1,000 miles on our Tin Lizzies per year. -I only do about 500. -As a matter of routine, most of us only take our Flivvers out when the weather is absolutely bright and gorgeous and we're on our way to a car-show, cruise-in, lunch-run or other such thing—and we generally stick to lightly-traveled, secondary and tertiary roads in residential neighborhoods. -I usually cruise around town at between 25 and 30 mph. -35 mph is okay, but lengthens your panic-stop distance considerably, and routinely cruising at 40 would awfully hard on the engine, not to mention dangerous to you and everyone around you. -In the springtime, shadows hide the potholes you won't be able to see and avoid at the last minute if you drive too fast, and depending on the depth of the hole, hitting one will either rattle your spinal column all the way up to your molars or shatter a wooden-spoke wheel, resulting in a catastrophic tumble.
For the infrequent, short trips most Model T owners take, it's quite possible to maintain the red-alert situational awareness absolutely necessary to maintain reasonable safety. -Fanatical vigilance (and excellent visibility, if you happen to be driving an open car with the top down) is the key to avoiding traffic accidents.
Oh, did I mention the need for a garage? -A Model T isn't the kind of car you can leave out in the weather.
Then, there are the twin issues of maintenance and reliability. -A brass car (and for all intents and purposes, that includes all vintages of the Model T) requires constant tinkering, even as an infrequently used collector-car. -Most local mechanics will be unwilling to touch it, so keeping the Tin Lizzie running will be up to you. -Don't get me wrong; plenty of expert advice is available here on the forum, but the only guy dealing intimately with the stubborn, rusted-together nuts & bolts will be you. -Depending on certain variables, even changing a flat tire can be a daunting adventure. -And in bad weather? -Forget about it.
Back in the day when people routinely dealt with the care and feeding of horses—and shoveled a lot of horse poop, and it wasn't unusual to kill what you ate or skin a goat in your kitchen (like Grandma used to do), or have a backyard chicken-coop, or grow your own side-dishes out of the ground, a Model T Ford could be seen as a labor-saving tool of decadent convenience. -But in the 21st century, we, who use actual toilet-paper, aren't anywhere near as acclimated to hardship as our forebears.
You need a real car, Padre.
You won't be the only Catholic Priest with a T, Here in Oroville Father Roy Doner has a few. I believe he's on sabbatical right now, and my be retiring (yes, Priests do retire!), but I'm certain the church can put you in touch with him. He's a great guy.
David Dewey (One of those Heathen Methodists! )
One thing about it, Charles, dedicating one's self to own a Model T, drive it "religiously" and do your own work on it is not unlike the priesthood . . . ; - )
Thanks for the cautionary advice and for the encouragement! So it sounds like it would be do-able to actually use the car, if not everyday, at least for some short 'round-town driving. Ah well, that's most driving anyway. And I do agree that using vintage gear is good for the mind & soul--slows you down and gets you out of the rat race of planned obsolescence.
Don't worry--I love to fix stuff! In high school my room looked like the 1900s crawled in there and died. For a while I couldn't remember buying something that wasn't an antique or at least second-hand.
I'll be checking in on those Model T clubs in Texas and on cheap motors elsewhere to sub for a nicer machine. I have EIGHT YEARS to wait, save, decide, and learn. Thanks guys for the information; I'll be checking in locally & on the Forum about the mighty(?) Ford. Hope to one day see you on the road--good luck with your own cars, road trips, & all that. I can't imagine road-tripping in a Model T. Sounds like a hoot.
In the mid to late 80s I drove a T roadster daily
Granted it was only to market dotors and weekend outing. And the once a moth journey see my folks about 60 mile round trip.
Road city bus on days weather was bad or turn iffy
On weekend long trips out into desert.
So choose your location wisely and it be doable
Would i do it again yes very much so but traffic on daily use around here would be my only concern
Charles by what you have stated you should be able to do it. Depending on what traffic you will be driving in. T's if set up correctly are extremely dependable. We have two friends that have driven their Model T's across the country twice, one is a 13, the other of 15. The 13 was driven over 8000 miles, the only repair was a radiator overflow tube came loose. The 15 had a flat tire. Since I installed a speedometer in my 14 three years ago I have driven it over 15,000 miles, replacing only the timer brush. Recently I tightened up the bearings and reset the valves. Two things contributing to having a problem with a T, is trying to get by with the worn out car. These cars are 100 years old or close to it. Many owners in the past did a valve job, replaced the rings and thought they had a rebuilt engine. Not so! Many of these cars are showing up for sale. They can run good but are basically worn out. The other problem are aftermarket parts. Keep your Ford all Ford, and dependability wise you will be further ahead. Ruckstell rear-end with Rocky Mountain brakes make the car a lot more drive-able. 35 to 40 mph is a comfortable and safe speed for a properly set up model T. If you want more speed, I have a 28 Model T that that is good for 50 mph plus. Still not enough, a V-8 Ford depending on the year is good for 70 miles an hour all day long.
Also, there is a priest in our area that drives a Model T!
Correction: 28 Model A
Charles. a lot of good advice, I am 73 and just got My first T a 26 model recently, I have driven it some on back roads around the house out in the country. its like having a "tiger by the tail", when I drive it, almost got in a accident the emergency brake saved the day, killed the engine, to drive a T You need to be good at multitasking and a third arm and leg would be helpful as well, go on line and goggle how to drive a model T, and join the local T club, another good video filmed at Henry Fords Greenfield village, " Driving a model T is harder than You think, Wishing You the best in all Your endeavors.
Welcome to the forum. I wood look at a 26-27 T. Take everyone's advise and drive one slow and easy to figure it out. They are different to drive but worth learning.Hope you get your T soon!!
John Codman........not only a Catholic priest but a Methodist pastor from a neighboring village as well.
His passion, outside the church, was old Mercedes Benz cars.
He'd stop in at the shop now and then too.......
So thanks a lot guys--the plan is to:
Wait 8 years
Save like crazy
Get a late '20s car
Rebuild the engine properly, not halfway
Run it for low-speed work, using a cheap old motorcycle for secondary transport.
I'll see about getting into the Ford clubs as well, hopefully getting to know some T owners, learn about a cool hobby, and get more familiar with the Ford car itself.
See y'all on a 2 lane road sometime in about 8 years.
I did (and still do) have a good friend who did commute to work in his '24 touring on nice days. In fairness he had a short commute on secondary roads, but his beautiful '24 - the car in which I learned to drive a T, was completely reliable for the trip.
Charles, in this day of cell phones, audio systems, and distracted drivers, I would be very apprehensive, even myself, to drive a T as a daily driver unless you lived in the country; lived in a small town with one stoplight (or no stoplight), or were a very experienced T driver. Too many reports of accidents on tours have been reported on the Forum that have involved death or injury and tours are supposed to be safer than a single everyday driver situations. Driving and having the protection of a 3 or 4 thousand pound car around you is a lot different than having only a 2 thousand pound car to protect you, plus the frame, and front and rear axles aren't near as strong. It will take only one time to get T boned by another car to learn what I say is true (if you survive). Add to these facts the fact that a T is an old car and regardless how good a mechanic you are, breakdowns can and may happen, making you wonder whether you'll get back home, uneventfully. Have some way to secure your car too. If a thief doesn't steal your whole car, I have heard of people missing radiator caps and other small parts that were removed, even at crowded swap meets. Add to this list, that you'll have no heater in winter or no AC in the summer. I hope you take time to consider these points.
We put two point seat belts in out 53 ch3vy and three point seat belts in out truck. Our T will have them also. We already have bumpers for the T. The truck originally did not have turn signals, backup lights, hazard lights, and no lights at all on the rear passenger side. All that has been changed and our T will have full lights too, having bought the turn signal. A few days ago I saw a antique Dodge smashed in the back side by a Hyundai at Cruising the Coast in MS. I have a driver's side air bag in the old 1950 truck but that won't happen on our 1926.
Take a look at http://www.lone-star-ts.com/
This is the club in the Dallas area.
Please feel free to contact any of the members listed.
I drove mine daily. See that good running ones are affordable in the USA so go for it. If you find it uses too much fuel you'll be able to sell it again.
They don't break down dramatically as much as much as people would tell you. For instance, I have to splice bits of wire in mine from time to time. Or repair the exhaust. Or even replace bits of the clutch linkage. But it's nothing major.
Only had a couple of break downs where I had to walk home and scavenge/make new parts and go back to install them.
If you are waiting 8 years it might be best to think about what T you like best. Often those first thoughts are what you will eventually end up with whether its brass or black. Start collecting pieces and rebuilding them as you get them.
Also, it is always less expensive to purchase a really good car then to try to make the proverbial "silk purse out of a pig's ear. The key is to find a good one. You need somebody who is a really sharp T guy to look at it with or for you.
There was a guy who came on the forum and said he wanted to buy a T and drive it across country. Most thought he was a bit crazy..... Until he did it. So I say go for it.