Recently a friend bought a restored, very original low-mileage car, he is known positively to be the third owner. It's a 1914-style touring with all the usual 1914 stuff and its life is fairly well documented.
The first owner reputedly bought the car at the 1915 Panama Pacific Fair which opened in early February and ran through December. Ford assembled about 18 cars a day on their tiny assembly line in the Palace of Transportation and sold them to fair goers. The original owner's family is addamant the car was from the Fair, but my friend has been unable to find any evidence that typical 1914-style cars were assembled and sold there. All photos I've seen show the new style common to 1915.
However, it seems I've read or heard (or dreamed) that 1915 bodies weren't in widespread supply until early 1915 (March? April?) and that branches were still being supplied with 1914-style bodies, possibly until April, 1915.
Are there any 1915 PPIE enthusiasts out there? Hap Tucker? Any body building style change dates that might help him conclude it is or is not possible?
Here's a picture showing a typical 1915 touring.
I would think that Ford would have only the newest body & parts on display at a World's Fair. Possibly the car was originally sold new in San Fransisco from a dealer, but not at the fair, while the fair was going on.
Recently a car such as described was sold in the Bay Area with a story like this attached to it.
Soon after it was purchased at the estate sale from the original owners relitives.I was asked to check it out.
It was definately a 1914 Touring and not a 1915 style. This is Important as Ford archives told me in the 1960s that only 1915 style tourings were assembled at the fair. In 1915 Ford advertised come to the fair and see the ÒNewÓ style Model T. In my extensive PPIE collection I have many photos and brochures from the fair all showing the 1915 style. When the above mentioned car was brought home to be restored I told the new owner that Ford didnÕt build this style at the fair, he replied that maybe the kids misunderstood gramps when he told them that the car had gone to the fair. Maybe this car is the same car and someone could photoshop a picture of it onto an assembly line photo at the fair, to authenticate it.
I do NOT believe there were any '14 style T's built at the fair. At least some were '15 style,
I believe they all were.
Henry Ford was at the fair, his Yacht in the Harbor, He'd invited Laura Ingalls Wilder to join him & Clara, the story is in one of her last "Little House on the Prarie" books. Pretty sure he was keeping an eye on the line.
There is a local guy here who has a very nice 1915 runabout that was said to have been assembled at the PPIE. It is an early 1915 with the 1914 style rear axle. It has all the correct '15 stuff like the scew on trim, right angle headlight connectors and the metal strip that goes under the top on the upholstery tack strip.
Although 1914 style bodies were used in production until about the end of January 1915, and I'm sure those were shipped out to dealers for a month+ afterwards, I would be very surprised if Ford did not use the ALL new 1915 design for the Showcase PPIE, which started in February of 1915.
Keith – I was hoping you would comment on your friend’s 1915. Note, the overlap for the 1914 to 1915 model year was one of the longest ones. For the open cars the Highland Park began producing the 1915 open cars in Jan 1915 but the branch assembly plants continued to produce the open style 1914 bodied cars – some of them until about Apr 1915. ref page 197 of Bruce McCalley’s book “Model T Ford.” But I agree with you – it would be very unlikely for Ford to use the older style bodies at the large fair.
Great question – and I would love to find additional information about the Fords produced at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. It opened Feb 20, 1915 and clearly Ford USA had 1915 style bodies that he could have shipped out there by that time.
See http://mtfca.com/encyclo/1915-16H.htm where Bruce McCalley has: The new Sedan, with the center door, was introduced in September 1914, and the Coupelet with the folding top shortly after. The new touring and roadster bodies, though, were introduced at the Highland Park plant in January 1915. Many, if not all, of the Ford assembly plants continued making the 1914 style open cars until perhaps April 1915, so there is considerable overlap in the production of the 1914 and 1915 open cars. The new touring and runabouts were first shipped from Highland Park in February 1915. At the same time, sample bodies were shipped to the branches; these bodies to be used as models for the changeover to the new style.
And at: http://mtfca.com/encyclo/doc15.htm Bruce has:
FEB 6, 1915 Acc. 509, Letter, Ford Archives
New-style Touring and Runabout bodies shipped to branches for use as models, not for use in production.
It was a very low production assembly line – it ran from 1:40 PM to 4:40 PM Mon through Sat and produced 18 cars per day for a total output of 4,338 cars, with no production on Sunday (ref page 29-30 of “The Ford Shows” by Lorin Sorensen. Although 1914 style cars were clearly being assembled at Branch Plants around the USA – I feel certain that Ford would have had his new 1915 style model assembled at the fair – but I do NOT have positive proof that they only assembled the 1915 style. I have seen approximately 5 photos that show approximately 32 of the Model Ts that were assembled at the fair. They are all the 1915 style. 18 of those cars are in one photograph showing a single days production. Three others are in the photo Royce posted. The photo Royce posted would be a good one to follow up on. According to page 31 of Lorin Sorenson’s book it is from the San Francisco public library. If it was taken on the opening day – that would confirm that they started with the 1915 style bodies. Royce – please take a magnifying glass and/or scan and enlarge the photo. Do the cars have a bulb horn or can you see an electric horn button on the steering column? Can you see how many rivets $ or 3 on the front fender brackets? We can clearly see the speedometer cable – so we know it was not taken at the end of the production when the speedometers were no longer standard equipment. One picture on page 30 shows Henry Ford and Thomas Edison but it was taken in Oct 1915 so it really doesn’t help document what was used the first month.
Note page 30 also states: “These were mostly of the Open Touring variety with a handful of Taxi models and were all affixed with a brass plate on the wood dash commemorating their birth place. They were all spoken for weeks in advance with most going immediately to Ford distributors and friar patrons, while the remainder went directly to the Orient on the steamers from San Francisco.”
Below are the words from the Sep – Oct 1994 “Vintage Ford” ariticle on the exhibition.
In the latter part of the last century and the
first part of this one, “World Fairs” and “Expositions”
were rather popular events. It was a time
when exquisite buildings were erected to showcase
the world’s latest inventions and companies’
latest wares. Many countries set up
exhibits to promote their cultural heritage and
whatever else countries may want to brag
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition
of 1915 was one of the largest expositions
and was dedicated to the opening of the Panama
Canal. Since Panama was too far for convenient
travel and still rather primitive, San Francisco
was chosen as the site for the celebration. No
doubt, the celebration was devised by civic leaders
in San Francisco-but that is unimportant.
The fact is this exposition was one of the largest
and well-attended events of its kind.
Among the elaborate exhibits were three
prepared by the Ford Motor Company. A “sociological”
exhibit depicting the improved living
conditions in Detroit as a result of the company’s
profit sharing plan was displayed in the
Palace of Mines. A Ford-produced film on improved
factory working conditions was shown in
the Palace of Education. And in the Palace of
Transportation, Ford set up its most popular
exhibit-an assembly line. It was also the most
popular exhibit at the exposition, receiving the
three highest awards: Grand Prize, Medal of
Honor, and Gold Medal.
Thousands of spectators came daily to watch
the final assembly of eighteen cars each day. The
assembly line, operated by a chain pulling the
vehicles over a narrow gauge track, started with
the rear axle and workers proceeded to add to it
as it passed through different stations until the
car was complete. After the cars were driven off
the end of the assembly line, spectators could
take a ride around the exposition grounds in the
new flivver for a dime.
Both Henry and Edsel Ford attended the
exposition, as did the Ford Motor Company
Today, only the Palace of Fine Arts (pictured
on our cover) remains of the many buildings
originally erected for the exposition.
Sorry we don’t have more information on the subject. W Austen mentioned he has an extensive collection – and some of those may be able to document the start of the line? Still so much information to be discovered.
Some related – but I didn’t find “the answer” there last time I looked a few years ago:
And on page 67 of Clymer’s “Henry’s Wonderful Model T Ford.” There is a photo of Edsel Ford driving to the Pan Pacific in a 1915 touring. Does anyone know when that drive was made?
Hap Tucker 1915 Model T Ford touring cut off and made into a pickup truck (not assembled at the Exposition) and 1907 Model S Runabout. Sumter SC.
I have to check the Historical Socities records, San Diego had the Panama California expostion the same time frame, attended by Theodore Roosevelt, 90% of the structures are still standing or rebuilt in Balboa Park. It was Xanadu in "Citizen Kane". When the exposition closed in San Fransisco most of the exhibits were moved here, for another year. Sure Ford had an exhibit.
I'll take a look see, only thing I've found on line is a display of Mooreland trucks & Harley's, but they only have 2.5 million photos.
I believe Edsel & a friend were taking the Lincoln Highway to meet the folks in San Fransisco, assuming it's photo where their up to hubs in mud, I'd say early 1915, the mud season.
Alex, the Ford Building in Balboa Park...
Now the AeroSpace Museum, When it rains the FORD appears at the top of the building. There is also the adjacent Ford Bowl, now the Starlight. They've been talking the last few years about putting back the Firestone Singing waters fountain in front of it.
A Photo of the Fountain with the California Building behind it, now the Auto Museum, where he hold our meetings.
Just because they were assembling the "new models" at the fair, does that mean that that is what they sold? Could they not have been assembling 1915 models while selling 1914 cars as well?
I agree that's possible, there may have been some local dealers present trying to unload there stock.
Was there a special tag, or plate indicating the vehicles assembled at the exposition? If so, do any of these vehicles exist today?
If I recall correctly, I believe "Bay Bridge Sue" who use to post on the Model T Forums supposedly owned one of the exposition built cars.
She hasn't posted in a few years.
You are correct that they built differnt models at the Exposition.They built some Towncars!The late Ralph Reeder had one.This car is now in the Museum in Holland.I thought I was following information on several different Towncars but later found out that it was the same car.I have traced this car through 14 different owners.
Anyway this Towncar was built at The Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 and was purchased by Browns Taxi in Santa Rosa and was Taxi #36.I don't know about the origin of their other cars but apparently they bought 4 Towncars for Taxi use.What is also interesting about the succession of owners is that two owners owned this car twice at different times.
Ps I'm sure most of these owners had no idea of the history on this car
Last year, I picked up a copy of "Ford to Frisco" which documented the trip of a pharmacist to this exhibition. At the end of the book, I believe the author may have spoken about the cars and there may have even been a photo of the cars built. I won't be able to get to my copy until after this semester ends, but when I get home I'll try to take a look. I don't know if it'll help, but maybe. If someone else has a copy of the book, maybe they could chime in.
I would love to hear from any collector who would have pictures of the annex to the Palace of Fine Arts at the PPIE of 1915. Inside and outside, especially of the Futurist room. Thanks. Jean-Pierre de Villers, University of Windsor.
Again, it seems logical to me, that they would have put some kind of tag, or plate somewhere on the cars to indicate they were assembled there.
There were a lot of tags on other items in the Panama Pacific International Exposition. So you'd think they would be on the T's also.
Here's one from a clock I own.