Ron in Central Mass. posted to the thread on the number of surviving Model Ts with the comment that only Model T guys fuss over a "bitsa" car . . .
Probably true, and the obsession is an odd one. Through my 55 year association with Model Ts, I have seen many complete cars, often with traceable histories that could be considered "bitsa" Ts in the strict sense, as not infrequently they had been fitted out with later parts not "period correct" for their year/model designations. 40-50 years ago, one could rightly guess these "updates" had been made during the car's using life. Not surprising, if you consider that a quick perusal of Ford's 1928 parts list for Model T shows that probably 90% of the parts listed are noted as appropriate for use in cars from "1909-27".
Later in the game, many Ts were definitely assembled from "orphan" parts, frame and axles from a Hoover wagon, engine from an old saw-mill, body from the local dump. Another T on the road, where's the fuss ?
Segue to the recent interest on this forum in the Model K coming up for auction in January. Read the posts, all of them positively interested in the "story" of a complete car with a "provenance". It's obvious that the appeal of a complete car 110 years of age and the stories associated with its known owners has appeal even for those who like to make fun of "purists", and berate "brass snobs". In truth, it's this link with history and the past that holds a lot of value for all of us "old car guys".
Back to the "bitsas" - there are those of us who are not offended at the proposition of having a Model T up and running, gathered from hither and yon, maybe year model correct in some respects, or none at all . . . others of us keep searching for the holy grail of making all parts and details of our "bitsa" Ts ever more nearly correct, even though its components never came down the assembly line together.
A good deal of fun and interest can be had in the effort to make a "bitsa" car "correct", I can't see how this should justify negative comments about "Franken-Ts", or take anything at all away from the few complete cars that have come down to us with verifiable histories.
Our 27 was correct, the 22 RPU and 27 speedster were vey much bitsa's. No problem for me Love them all !!
I like them all, but I prefer my own cars have the correct bits for the year. Whether they came that way or were assembled from parts doesn't matter much in my opinion if there's no known history anyway.
Back before I knew anything about T's, I bought my first one....a '24 or '25 Canadian cut off touring. Advertised as a 1920 Model T homemade pickup (registered off the engine number), it fit my price range. Owning it still all these years gives me fits and pleasure of fixing it up. There was/is so much incorrect on it, and I am not even talking just wrong hardware. It's taken me on and off 12 years to get it respectable in the correct sense.
Do I consider it a Bitsa? Yes. I believe this might have been a T missing the hood, rad, rad shell, engine, and steering column. Essentially a rolling chassis with the aforementioned cut off touring body and pickup bed. Does it bother me? Sometimes, but not when I'm out enjoying it. For me personally, the challenge is at least to be period correct....or at least the stuff you can see easily. If you can be period correct, being truly part correct for the year applicable is almost the easy part.
I am also about ready to construct a speedster. It will be definitely a Bitsa. Constructed from the ground up from one piece at a time. And again, will appear to be period correct, but I am not worried about any correctness per year of it as titled.
Ron and I also have doodlebugs, and for those, we like picking up all the leftovers considered not good enough for the T resto crowd. It sure beats having still useable parts going to scrap. So again, definitely Bitsa, but still T at the heart.
My view, enjoy it, fix as needed to suit your own tastes. Gain the knowledge of how much you want to make correct or not based on current and past discussions on here and other sources.
What is the most hard core view that someone actually holds to, concerning when an original T, is no longer original but now a "Bit of this and bits of that"? Ours is a numbers matching bitsa with so many donor parts but what is a true strict view?
Hello All, Very green John from NE Pennsylvania here.
What does "bitsa" mean?
And my two cents is that an automobile is only new once.
Look at when Ray Carini found the original Stutz Bearcat in the garage. That is what the car became but had it been pampered and stored proper it would be a different story. He, I believe, did the correct approach by stabilizing the rust on the body and getting everything else repaired without making changes. With the exception of the auxiliary fuel tank.
"How many angels can dance on the head of a pin??" Medieval theologians wasted time debating this arcane question. To what effect? If it looks like a T, performs like a T, sounds like a T, leaks like a T, smells like a T (you get the picture).....then it's a T. Further refinements into "bitsa" or "legitimate" are superfluous.
I was at an engine show a few years ago and a group of 6-8 Ts showed up, parking in an area reserved for vintage cars (which was about 100 feet from where I had one of my T doodlebugs). I saw them walk over and heard one of their wives say: "Oh look, there's another Model T!" as she pointed at my bug. Her husband shook his head and said: "That's not a real Model T, that's a doodlebug." Funny, but I have a stack of receipts from Lang's that would prove otherwise....but why bother; I know what I have and don't need to justify it to anyone.
A 'bitsa' is undoubtedly as Vern defined. My own definition would be best described as: "However you put it together for your own enjoyment."
Take Care; Behave; "Don't Shoot!" (and)
(Whatever YOUR definition may be....)
I got it now. Thanks. That's terrible. An automobile that has survived close to 100 years or a reconstruction should be honored the same. I am Happy to be able to say I own a Model T Ford and everyone I show a photo to are in awe. With the help of club members I will be able to take her out for a ride in the spring and check for all those missing cotter pins.
I love my Bitsa 25 pickup.
I knew when I bought it that it had a replacement bed and frame. I didn't realize that the front fenders were for a commercial truck and that the wheels needed to be respoked. It now has model A wheels off of my Model A while collect the hubs needed to respoke my wood rims.
John C that is one nice Model T. When I first got my 25 roadster I played with the idea of putting a wooden pickup bed on her. Decided to leave it as is. Besides don't think it would fit in its shed with a pickup bed, very tight quarters.
If no one in the antique car hobby owns a "bitsa",
Why then do people go to swap meets? What would they buy? My guess every old car out there is a "bitsa" in some form or another. I love a car restored to "off the assembly line" quality. I also like cars that are put together like a Grapes of Wrath type car, cut down touring made into a truck, cracked fenders, etc. We should stop labeling cars, and just enjoy them for what they are, the way they are.
There are always those with their own opinion...
"However you put it together for your own enjoyment" is what drives us all!
Take Care; Behave; "Don't Shoot!" (and)
My opinion: nothing wrong with a 'bitsa. Rather see one on the road than see it in someone's outdoor pile spread across 5 acres and gone in 10 years.
On the other hand, owners of such rigs should understand that a put-together cut-down hybrid will never be as valuable as one that is all "correct". Given the very low value of black cars, this shouldn't be too big of a deal.
In any event, they all are fun. At car shows, no one knows what they're looking at anyway, and to make matters worse (for the guy that spent $25K restoring a $10K car), the ratty car will draw the looks and people will ignore the shiny one. The one guy who really pays attention to the restored car will usually rip the owner to shreds, declaring all the "mistakes" he made, so there is no winning that one.
Drive 'em and have fun...no matter what it is.
I don't know how a guy can keep a 90 year old+ car drivable without replacing parts. Who cares whether they came off of another car or not? Personally, I have tried to make my car as authentically 1927 and Canadian as I can afford. I think most of us on this forum trying to do just that - keeping with the heritage of the era that are Model T came from. What bothers me, and I will probably receive some criticism from it, is when guys call their car a 1923 model T and the only thing 1923 about it is the radiator shell. The car has a new fiberglass body and the running gear, engine, transmission, etc. all came off of modern cars. To me, the Department of Licensing should register this car by the year/manufacturer the engine was made. Just because the body resembles part of a Model T, it certainly is not one and what they have assembled certainly was not available in 1923. Those of us who buy sheet metal kits from Rootlieb to make a speedster certainly do not call our cars "Rootliebs."
There is no such thing as a "Commercial" front fender--you likely have authentic '25 front fenders. Your "bitsa" may be more "factory" than you think.
As for "Bitsa" cars, many decades ago I built a '29 Model A Blindback sedan that started out as as body skin only (no wood)and was built into a very authentic '29 Sedan; the parts were all correct to the months that the car would have been built (until we blew a rod driving it cross-country to it's new home, the new engine wasn't serial number correct).
Was that a bitsa? Would anyone know today looking at the car??
However, the car that started me in this hobby, has a history; I'm the second owner. I slid down the front fenders as a 3 year-old.
This is about as bitsa as you can get!!! But look at the smile in ourfaces. Bitsa's for me and Carston.
Tintillie our1919 touring car and Jeremy Mannthey's '23 pickup that's been in the family since new.
About 50% of the bits on mine are home made with my own hands... imagine how some people would react? Some people don't believe me at all.
I have T wheels, front axle, rear axle shafts, steering wheel, blah blah. lol....Not a T, a replica for fun. Most all car guys notice the T stuff. They have all seemed pleased that the stuff is being USED. Me too, 'course some serious negativity has been expressed from some online. An abomination perhaps, but mine. It puts smiles on people's faces so my time hasn't been wasted. I like that T stuff.
Like alot of think within or society, words mean different things to different people. Do you consider a 1957 Thunderbird that was 100% restored but had a horrific front end collision and then put back into factory shape a "Bitsa" car? Most people except for that owner would never know most of the front end got replaced back to factory specs.
If your Model T was constructed from a pile of parts that do not conform to the same year, yes, I consider it a "Bitsa" (in my opinion), but it still is a Model T in the end.
Jim Kelsey commented that the vehicle should be licensed by the year/manufacturer of the engine. This would be impractical. Example - My pickup left the factory as a 1982 Chevy. I repowered it with a 1966 Buick V8. Would you have The truck registered/titled as a 1966 Buick?
Dave the Rootlieb catalog page 32 lists a 24 25 commercial front fender. I have a large gap between the fender and the fairing piece that goes between the front and rear fenders.
I clearly see your point, John, and I agree with you in principle. I just don't know have a better solution and maybe that's the issue with the DMV, as well. I have a friend who has a T Bucket and the only thing original about it is the radiator shell, which was the only part made in 1923. Everything else was made within the last 20 years and was not originally available in 1923. For example, the body is made out of fiberglass and no company that I am aware of made fiberglass bodies in 1923. To me, that is not a 1923 Ford nor does it resemble one, yet, that is what it is called.
The catalog is WRONG, that is merely a late production '25 fender. The bead goes under the splash apron, so some folks think it's a mistake, but it's not.
Here's a rather bad picture showing that on an unrestored genuine '25.
It might be hear say, but I was told that if a vehicle isn't from a legitimate automobile manufacturer with a Vin. Number you can't register it. Just putting it out there, I haven't any proof other than what I heard.
There are many more 'Bitsa' cars than you know!
The fiberglass body manufacturers provide a 'Manufacturer's Certificate' along with a matching number Manufacturer's VIN plate. The plate must be securely fastened in a visibly accessible location, like the 'A' pillar inside the door frame. "No door on that fiberglass 'T-bucket'?" Then the firewall or an open frame area will do. Everything together and ready? Get it State inspected & certified as legally road-ready & worthy, and then process for registration. The actual issued Title (WI is 'By Mail Only') may reflect it as a "REPLICA" 1923 Ford Roadster (or other body style). It absolutely needs to be road-legal when calling for the inspection. Also, don't impose upon your inspector as your advisor! Know the regs beforehand!!
Maybe you purchased a body without a Title? Or found an old rusty body?
When ready for inspection, check with official DMV records to verify your own desired personalized (your unique name or initials+++?) & number-stamped plate is OK & clear. You won't want to be duplicating a previously salvaged or stolen vehicle ID number!
'The Process'? = Built-Inspected-Certified-Titled/Registered-Licensed.
This is how it's been done in Wisconsin, but it also helps to know a legal, knowledgeable inspector/cop to ask questions when appropriate. Again, know or learn your applicable regs!
Suggest checking with an auto 're-builder' who they have as a contact to inspect & certify their re-builds. If they don't have a Certified Inspector contact, they are not legal. The disclosure & certification must be included with any 'initial sale to the public' paperwork for ("re"?) registration. I know of two auto re-builders just in our area, but am just as sure there are others. Those 'insurance-salvaged' vehicles don't all end up being re-cycled (and) there are newer 'bitsa (Title ID'd as salvaged) cars' you don't know about! 'Salvaged' MUST reveal the extent of, and the repairs made. Even for a 'totaled' Subaru Forrester that's now put on 200K+ more miles....
Take Care; Behave; "Don't Shoot!" (and)
Examples of likely bits-a found on the forum site.
And the critical comments, for example this 1914 Model T - http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/708324/739342.html?1491018962 - "Those front fenders have bills like the 1915-16. Maybe a transition car?" "Just one thing makes me wonder about the originality of this one. Doesn't the dash/firewall look a little too good? Was it changed at some point?"
http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/708324/754255.html?1498154551 "There are several things wrong with that car for it to be as early as the seller claims. I've spent several years studying "early" 1915 tourings, mainly because I own one. Nevertheless, while anything is possible, the car on ebay is questionable for the following reasons.
1, Early 1915 Touring cars have 1914 bodies with tapered cowls attached. One feature of the early bodies exhibit a rear bead that follows the outline contour of a flat top, 1914 style rear fender. The car on ebay clearly has a 5 piece rear tub that was made for the curved rear fenders of a 1915 style body.
2, Early 1915 cars have the 12 rivet differential. The car on ebay does not (although obviously, it could have been changed out).
3, Early 1915 cars sport the 4-rivet 1914 front fenders. The car on ebay has the later 3 rivet front fenders that were used from mid-15 through the beginning of 1917 production."
I would think that with these few comments from 2017 the group is familiar with a Bits-a car. It would be interesting to go back to the beginning of the forum for vehicle criticism.
All I can say is if a purist wants to examine any of my T related stuff,and he is faint of heart,he needs to bring his Nitro pills.
I have fun with my "bitsa" T's not only in driving them but building them.And meeting people I buy parts from,seeing new country as I drive to get them.
It has been good therapy for me recovering from a brain injury to relearn what I already knew and to learn new stuff.I was into T's for about 8 or 9 years before I got hurt and the hobby has been good for me in more ways than i can count.
Painting the wire wheels for my pickup project with my arm still in a sling was a accomplishment like someone climbing Mount Everest. It was going to get done.Kept me from becoming addicted to pain meds and antidepressant medicines.
Until a person knows the whole story behind a "bitsa" car, they should consider learning it before being critical. This hobby is about preserving not only the cars,but the knowledge of how to repair them,drive them,and link like minded people together.
Besides another way to look at it is a driver of a "bitsa" car can tell you things about it a person who buys 1 off ebay may not have a clue about. We "bitsa" car guys have manipulated every single component of a Model T.
Hello all, as for me, I prefer Jalopy over bitsa.
Bravo, Mack Cole!
Bravo John P., "jalopy" "jitney" "flivver" "tin lizzie" whether untouched and worn, or variously assembled, are all terms more in the spirit of the Model T than "bitsa" or "Franken-T", I suggest we use 'em more frequently !!
Be careful. Some may consider a "Franken-T" to have been molested. ;o@
Well, . . . Haven't they ? lol
OK, I've read this entire thread and need to ask a question:
Since we have seen some T's that demonstrably left the factory with "transitional" parts or "prototype" parts or with "leftover" parts from a previous year, is that car a factory original Ford Bitsa ?
Sorry. The devil made me do it.
They are all bitsa. They left the factory that way.
So if I was looking to sell.
Here is what I see as options
I could sell the car with title. A complete registered operating vehicle.
Or I could give four individuals the opportunity to reconstruct four new Ts.
1. Sell the body separately.
2. Sell the engine and transmission separately.
3. Sell the rolling chassis and wheels w/dif and steering.
4. Sell the title separately.
In theory and from my vantage point, you are probably correct. However, the 1st one to register and 'license' the VIN# would prevent anyone else from registering the same number. Wisconsin would require formulating a unique number to the vehicle.
Just don't even 'try' putting an un-registered/un-licensed vehicle on the road here. Even some smaller city & sheriff departments have license plate readers....
Many States will not accept/permit legal sale of Titles alone, let alone the sale of just an 'identification number'. Authorities make it hard to be a legitimate street outlaw!
Take Care; Behave; "Don't Shoot!" (and)
I think that this discussion about the "bits-a" may be getting old. BUT....
Reading the Pennsylvania motor vehicle code I think the case for a bits-a can be summed up and supported as -
§ 1103.1. Application for certificate of title.
(g) " Specially constructed, reconstructed or modified vehicles.--If the vehicle to be titled is a specially constructed, reconstructed or modified vehicle, that fact shall be stated in the application. The department may promulgate rules and regulations pertaining to the titling of specially constructed, reconstructed or modified vehicles. "
Rather than sell a complete running restored vehicle - there can be four cars (Bits-a Cars) added to those manufactured during the high point of the Model T by parting out the running car.
Our 26/27 Coupe is a bitsa because it is made up of a lot of other Model T's.
Our 1950 F1 is a Franken-Ford because is constructed from other F1's, a Ranger, Explorer, Expedition, Mustang, Crown Vic, Phone Equipment cabinet, scrapyard steel, conduit...
Guess I'm dense. Until this thread I didn't realize there was a problem. There are very few cars that have provenance from day one. Back in the day do you think they care what year rear end they got from the wrecking yard when the 12 rivet started leaking cause it was cracked.
On the other hand, if an original car pops up no one wants to see it restored. Catch 22.
Things must be really slow in Pennsylvania this week.
This conversation became “old” for me long ago. Am going back to assembling another Model T Ford out of s pile of parts. It’s going to be a TT dump truck and needs no further classification than that. Should bring the number of operating Ts up to 200,001 by next fall.
Andy - there really is no problem; but that encourages people with too much time on their hands to sit around and try to think some up.
My '24 Touring was tucked away in a barn in '69 after hard use on a Texas farm.
After having messed around with it and disassembling and reassembling just about every part of the body, I've come to the conclusion that it was wrecked sometime before its' retirement and put back on the road (probably during the 2nd World War) with bits from one other Model T.
So...is it a Bitsa....even though this current collection of parts has been together as a Model T since Roosevelt was the President?
I don't think it matters. At least it doesn't to me. I've never understood the appeal behind formal car judging and certainly have no interest in a plastic trophy. However, I can see the value for someone like Ross Lilleker winning the Stynoski award because it speaks to his ability to do quality work. Other than that, I place value in the look of a car and how well it runs and drives.
Time, age and accidents have changed many T's from what left the factory years ago. All of us would like an original car, but it just isn't possible most of the time. If you're a purist and restore a vehicle to its former glory....good, and thank you. For the rest of us, money and time can be an issue so we do the best we can. Sometimes we're "replicating" what might have been on the road....during the depression for example. Doesn't matter. It's still a "T" at heart.
I'm planning an open express type T with a 1918 engine, mid twenties frame and whatever sheet metal I can find that looks appropriate. It will have a fresh engine and be mechanically dependable, so that's all I care about at this point.
Mentioning plastic trophy's, I was somewhere at a yard-sale and there was a huge box of trophy's being sold for like a dollar. A fellow bought them,took the tops off them and tossed the rest in a dumpster. Trophy's don't have much value. Sure you look good holding it in a picture.But it don't make the collection of T parts run any better.
Remember what started this and a related thread the question was asked, How may (Original from the Factory) Model T survive?
How many original Model Ts are still on the road from the always mentioned manufactured number of 15 Million?
In 2008 the Henry Ford, for the 100 Anniversary of the Model T commissioned Robert Casey to Document and write "The Model T: A centennial History."
Casey states that in 1927, at the end of production there were 11,325,521 Model T still registered as being on the road. For 1932 he quotes a number of registered Model T's at 5,432,000. Then he quotes the often used information from 1948 the R. L. Polk and Company research figures of 73,111 registered and still on the road.
No arguments here, but certain that of the 73,111 cars mentioned a number of there cars were kept on the road from cannibalized parts of other cars and those parts still being supplied by Ford Motor Company...
Move forward to the 21st century it is estimated of the 15 Million produced the survival rated of those produced by the factory is 2 to 3 %... Using 2.5% of the original cars 375,000original Model Ts may still survive.
But since then there have been a number of Model Ts produced and registered as Model Ts from bits and pieces.
The question back to the forum of the original 15 Million cars, how many survive? And I ask how many are bits-a vehicles?
For reference in in 1927 there were a total of 20,193,333 automobiles registered. In 1932 there were 20,901,253 automobiles registered (in the United States). and in 1948 when Polk produced its numbers for registered Model Ts, there were 33,355,250 automobiles registered (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/summary95/mv200.pdf)
So how many original from the factory Model Ts are there today?
A car with a provable history is indeed something to be proud of and maintained as such. I would venture to guess most of our T's have an unknown history. That being what it is, I don't see much difference in one that has always been intact and one that was built up from parts, assuming the correct parts were used. Who would know the difference? I'd much rather see a T made up from the correct parts than see one someone has modified the L out of by swapping to an alternator, water pump, electric fuel pump, electric fan, distributor, etc.
There is also the question of affordability. If it weren't for the Jalopy Model T I know I couldn't own one. Like everything else these days prices exceed the true value because there are those with the disposable income that will pay insane prices. When I was young I bought Lionel trains at swap meets. It was a good time finding parts and trains from the fifties and before the war at reasonable prices. Then those days were over, same trains, mostly the same people but now they are selling gold.
I'm done with my bitter old man rambling, for the moment.