I have a 1918 T and the paint is original. Should I paint it or leavce it in its rustic state? Have have heard that it is better not to paint or make changes if you find an original car. The paint is chipped and cracking over many areas. What do you think?
Mark, I don't think your car has original paint, although it looks like it may have been painted many years ago. Look at the paint on Manuel Ortega's very original roadster, it has an alligator skin look to it. My '25 coupe has paint that looks the same way inside the deck lid area where it is still original. The rest of the car was painted (very poorly) in the early 60's. I wouldn't worry about painting it if it was mine, just clean it up and drive it. There are many products out there that will help clean up the paint and make it shine. Just my .02. Dave
It's your car and you need to make the decision on what you want to do with it. You will receive many different opinions on if you should leave it alone or paint it but in the end you own it and must decide what is best. I would suggest that you make sure all the wood is in good condition and that the car is safe to drive.
Repaint it if you want to but only after making sure that it is mechanically sound (meaning safe as Dennis said above). It looks to me to be quite presentable as it is and can certainly be improved through detailing.
Looks good except the tires may be a bit low
Hell, I hope I look that good at 91; with or without paint!
Don't worry about the paint it looks fine. You need to make sure the car is safe to drive first. Use the Taking a Model T out of Mothballs article. Here's the link again to the article.
Mark- I had the same decision to make when I found my '25. A neighbor had purchased a '26 and decided to repaint. It looked beautiful! Being naturally lazy when it comes to anything but essentials, I just cleaned her up and concentrated on the mechanicals. As luck would have it, there was a local car show and they put my neighbors car right next to mine. He "jokingly" made remarks about my car's appearance. It did look like something out of Grapes of Wrath, but I had grown quite fond of the Old Girl's patina. Also I wasn't fussy about letting people in the car, touching it etc. while my neighbor was sweating everytime someone stared too long at his. Imagine my (his) surprise when my '25 won a trophy for best original and his didn't win anything. Seem's that he was competing with all the restored and over restored cars, and the originals is a much smaller group. You can always repaint later but it's only original once. I take a little kerosene on a rag and rub the bald areas to keep rust from spreading. When People ask me why I don't paint it I tell them that I was able to get "Sunday Girl" to look like she did in 1935. I just can't get past that last ten years!
Best of luck to you Mark. We have two feet of snow on the ground and I'm going to wrap rope through the spokes and take her out for a drive! That's another thing you don't worry about with old paint-Jim Hudson
The Antique Automobile Club of America has now officially established an "originality" category of antique car judging. The slogan going around is, "It's only original once!" So, now they will be judging cars that have been preserved as opposed to restored. It's a neat idea which lends variety and enhances the historical significance of antique car shows and contests. That might be a good reason to leave things as they are.
When I restored my antique airplane, I left the cockpit as it was. The upholstery was kind of threadbare, ancient instruments gazed out from behind yellowed glass and tarnished toggle switches protruded from an instrument panel covered with chipped paint. There was the impression of dozens of pilots whose shoes had worn away at the North American Aviation logo on the rudder pedals. These things could have been replaced, but to me, the cockpit was kind of sacrosanct. This was where generations of pilots and this machine related to one another and left their impressions on one another. While I wanted the airplane to look pretty, but I didn't want to erase its history, so I painted the outside and left the inside alone (and yes, I know: No compromise ever got a standing ovation).
Of course, there's not much to a Model T's "cockpit." Most have only one instrument on the dashboard, if that, so there's very little detail aside from the metal coil box, and this is all in keeping with the car's Spartan charm. Your upholstery is in good condition--too good to replace, but also too good to be factory issue. Likewise, your paint, though aged to a nice patina, is in condition too good to be original. The car looks very nicely "antiqued."
Were it up to me, I'd compromise by leaving the interior as is, but after addressing any mechanical issues, I'd have a body shop strip the exterior, deal with any dents and dings and then refinish it with a high-quality, high-durability, black paint with no clear coat. I've been told that lacquer is the way to go for the body and fenders, and that enamel should be used for everything underneath. With a less original car, I'd be tempted to strip the wheels and finish the spokes as natural wood under some kind of clear varnish simply because they look so darned good that way. But Ford painted the wheels black and your car is so completely stock, it would be a shame to detract from its originality by departing from the Ford standard.
Ah, wouldn't it be nice if all our dilemmas were so pleasant?
Is your female companion proud to be seen in it, or ashamed?
All else is trivial.
Those tires are not flat, they are the new low profile racing slicks!
It's only original once, I would probably leave it unless you're going to tear it down to the frame and do a total restoration.
Mark I would get your T in running and driving condition, drive it and have fun with it. After you get it in road shape then give it a good bath and use some type of conditioner on the seats. Maybe later you might want to paint it. Some folks get their cars looking so "nice" it takes the fun out of driving them. Have fun and then think about painting it.
Your choice but here is my 2 cents worth. I have a '25 Fordor with very old but not original paint. I have taken it to 3 large car shows and have listened to car and non-car people discuss it's appearance. A sampling of approximately 100 opinions leave it at 50/50 "whatever you do don't paint it" vs. "it will look great when you get it painted". Being a frugal person, I have cast my lot with the "don't painters". Only a Model T can be as much fun without good paint. I did strip the wooden spokes and they are a natural finish and the drive train and engine are detailed. Mechanically it is as right as I can make it. I guess I just love my old Ford in part because it is just the way I want it, not for show or for anyone else.
Bill Rigdon '25 Fordor
I wouldn't paint it.
The "alligator skin" look seen on some original paint jobs is usually because the car was varnished a couple times. Varnishing every season was the reccommended way to keep your paint job looking good. If your car was never varnished, or varnished very little, then your paint job will not have the "aligator skin" look to it.
With that said, there are other things to look for. I know several people who say their cars have the original paint, but there are easy to see telltale signs the paint jobs are only a few decades old if you know what you are looking at.
That one is nice enough looking that I would concentrate on trying to wear out the tires, rather than worrying about the paint. Of course, I'm always a fan of a driven car.
Our '14 is pretty well documented car that was repainted and reupholstered back in the fifties. I wish it hadn't been messed with. I like the fact that the "new" paint is showing it's age. I never worry when kids want to look the car over; they can't hurt anything and I encourage them to hop up on the running boards and honk the horn (I do admonish them to ask the owners before touching any other cars).
With old paint, you get the pleasure of enjoying rustic old dirt roads without the worry of rock chips in your $3,500 paint job.
My car gets more attention than the shiny restored ones and I don't have to worry about somebody leaning against a fender.
If it were mine, I would leave it alone unless one or both of two things. One would be if it needs extensive body work. The other would be if the paint is so bad it would rust if I don't paint it. I will show you a couple of my T's before and after
The 26 touring before and after
The 22 Runabout (did not paint)before and after
Mine looks like somebody used a rattle-can to paint some of the areas and I'm pretty sure most of it has been repainted except the hood. I'm like everyone else. It's up to you to decide. When I can I'm probably going to paint the old gal. First I want her running nice.
I do not think that is original paint. If it is, it should be left untouched in a museum because they ARE original only once. And there truly are too few left. They can be repainted hundreds of times. Though it would get pretty thick unless thoroughly stripped often.
I think the most enjoyable antique cars are the ones that are nice enough to not be ashamed of it, but imperfect enough to not worry about every touch or scratch. Your car reminds me of a good friend's, that he bought just 30 years ago. He and his girlfriend/became wife have been using it like that since. They have had more fun with that one antique than anyone else I know. Mostly he uses 'Windex' to clean the whole car, and it shines so nice.
Hi to L & G, W2
Leave it alone, it looks just fine.