This has probably been hashed out previously but my son asked me a good question the other day; what is the earliest known production Model T out there? Does Model T #1 exist? Just curious - I've seen two lever 1909 Model T's with three digit serial numbers but surely there must be two digit ones in existence but what about single digit T's?
Include pictures of this T!!
The s/n 220 is the earliest I have seen or heard about.
Several years ago at the OCF there was one said to be #3??? Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
No 220 is at the Ford Piquette Plant in Detroit. I believe it is the oldest Model T where the engine and frame / running gear are still together. I think there are older engines only.
You are right, it has been discussed many times. Found using a Google search on "earliest model t mtfca":
A ways down in this thread is a photo of #131.
#131 is also mentioned in this thread.
This thread talks about #22.
Thanks, Mark! From what I can glean from those articles the two earliest are #2 in Scotland (questionable?) and #131 - both of which are complete cars. The other lower numbers mentioned appear to be either just engines or engines with partial other parts. I think.
I think #314 is the earliest complete car with a known history.
Was #2 spurious?
May be difficult to know.....one research point of truth is from Prof. Trent Boggess. He has researched the drawings of the first T's. And found a special part that was changed after the first 10 or so production T's.
That part is a two rivet vertical plate at the frame rail and crossmember, discontinued after. All T's after, have the more famous angle plate there.
Supposed # 1.
Close up of frame, circle is that special vertical part.
The s/n 220 is the earliest I have seen or heard about.
I don’t know how this duplicate happened, must be me. Sorry.
I was at Hershey at the RM Auction about 6 or so years ago and they sold what they said was the oldest one. It was listed as #3 and sold for around 3 or 4 million. I have been told that #10 is in Wisconsin and MIGHT have a chance to take a look ,and pictures I hope, at her next summer.
Someone must have the RM Auction info at Hershey 5 or 6 Years ago IF it was #3 I am sure the Forum Members would have been all over it
https://www.google.com/search?q=rm+auctions+1909+model+t+ford&rlz=1C1CHBD_enUS73 7US737&oq=rm+auctions+1909+model+t+ford&aqs=chrome..69i57.10648j0j7&sourceid=chr ome&ie=UTF-8
I just dug out some of my old Hershey stuff it was #30 in 2012 , hope you can forgive my bad memory
My understanding is #220 is the most complete original. It’s now on display at the Piquette plant museum in Detroit. Here’s the story of it from the last auction. And a photo of it I took the other day.
1909 Ford Model T – The Legendary #220.
This is one of the earliest surviving Ford Model T’s in the world today. Built in December, 1908 (prior to Ford’s introduction of the assembly line) at Ford’s Piquette Avenue factory in Detroit, the early history of #220 is today unknown.
As we are told, by 1951, Ed Hausgen of St. Louis had acquired the car through his uncle from a dealership in Illinois. By that time the rear portion of the original Touring body had been transformed into a Runabout, with a gas tank and toolbox at the rear.
In 1966, Hausgen sold #220 to collector Ben Snider of Riverside, California. Ben located a correct 1909 rear body and seat for the car and it was restored to show condition by Al Vivian, a former employee of Bill Harrah. It was a meticulous, frame-off restoration of every component.
On April 7, 1970, Ben Snider sold #220 to Bill Harrah and it became part of the famous Harrah’s Automobile Collection in Reno/Sparks, Nevada. It remained part of the collection until Harrah’s passing in 1984. Then #220 was sold by Harrah’s to Kim Dobbins of California who refreshed areas of the restoration and mechanicals, driving it on occasion. In a recent conversation with Mr. Dobbins he reports that the car runs and operates well. The odometer currently shows 6 miles.
In 2006, Fred Lau of Portland, Oregon acquired this legendary car from Kim Dobbins. Since that time it has been displayed on blocks in the Lau climate-controlled garage/showroom. With the recent unexpected passing of Fred Lau it is now being offered for sale.
The condition is exceptional and truly “like new” (If one can consider a 107 year-old car to be “new.”) The paint is flawless and the interior, top and brass are stunning. Please see the current photos and note the condition, including the undercarriage. It is museum-quality throughout.
It is hard to over-emphasize the rarity and significance of this Ford. It is, of course, one of a handful of early “two-lever, two-pedal” Model T’s that survive today. It is also considered one of the few that still consists of most of its original 1908 components
Craig, you're a few models off and have an extra zero in the sale price:
189 1903 Ford Model A Rear Entry Tonneau No. 30
Hi From Iowa! I saw the #2 car at Hershey being judged. Don Hess was the owner I believe & he had quite a interesting story to tell about it! I latter saw it in Scotland & the new owner could not understand how we let her leave the US? I know there is some question about this car, but it is very very nice & I would love it if it wanted to live in my Garage! I have pictures of both location I saw her, but it just looks like ANY OLD 2 Peddle T Should look? Thanks John
Is it just me but a number “2” cast on the block does not make an engine serial number 2. My 1909 Block has “1” cast in the same place. Does this make it serial number one, of course not.
After seeing what our friend Charlie Shaver can achieve by modifying a later block to look earlier, I’m not sure I believe any engine dating when money is involved. I saw the one that fooled Larry Blair, to my eyes it looked just like an 1910. I’m sure that some others have the same skills and techniques, so reproducing serial number 2 shouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibilities. On a similar theme, I saw pictures of 220 when it was first found, it was a total mess. It now looks great but I really wonder how much of s/n 220 was really first created in 1909
I personally know how much effort it is to preserve the 1909 wood. It’s fun but not financially a wise thing to do :-)
The number cast in the block was likely a mold number and not a serial number.
Jack Hanson of MI told me that he found #2 out by a lady's house when he went to work on her tv. He bought it and said it was in shambles. Later on Hess talked him out of it.
I saw #2 at Hershey the first time Don Hess showed it. He let me look at anything I wanted, and even crawl under the car. The engine block was not early enough to be #2, the frame was circa 1913 with the early fish plates installed. There were a number of other liberties taken with the restoration which would not be consistent with car #2.
I’ve studied early model T cars for years and purchased #220 from Harrahs auto collection at there second auction. I kept it until I bought #314 which I think is the earliest complete original 2 lever Ford.
Hope you are healing well.
You are much more informed and researched than i. A few observations that coincide with yours, and were formed partially by your research/opinions. Don Hess (RIP), interestingly had two purported early cars or engines pass through his care, #2 and #22. Both appear dubious at best. Number 161 appears to be original, or at least appears to be partially original, however you were familiar with this car and have more information than most of us.
I believe #77 engine (front clip?) is in LA at the county museum? Maybe it was linked above, but Henry Ford found what was claimed to be the first Model T in Ohio(?) in the 20's or 30's, I believe as he was locating items for the future Henry Ford Museum/Village. That car came under scrutiny again a year or so ago on this forum. I've always thought it interesting that at that time, Henry Ford was the wealthiest man in the world, and I would have thought if he wanted to find the earliest Model T, he could, and would have located and procured it. Interestingly, HF was already searching for a Model K Roadster (correspondence between his personal secretary and form Denver branch manager Hendy, about 1922). Due to his desire to own/locate the earliest Model T, I continue to wonder why he chose the T at the HF, if there was not something to it being an early car.
Lot's of mysteries out there, and that's part of what makes early Ts and Fords quite interesting....
I meant to mention, I suspect the very first couple/few Model T also had an aluminum hood former. The T Henry Ford took on his trial/hunting run in late September appears to have a former similar to the Ford K former, and it has a different reflection/shine compared with the brass lamps, causing me to believe it isn't brass or brass plated. However, I don't believe there's anything except photos such as those black and white above to confirm my "theory."
Rob, you make a very good point with Henry Ford and his search for the earliest Model T; do you know what car # he ended up with in his search? And whatever happened to the T he found in Ohio in the 20's - is that the one in the museum now? Many thanks to all the input on this subject - it's been most enlightening!
The earliest existing Model T? Humm...I have a set of period metal stamps. An accountant once told me that the numbers can be what ever the client wants.
So I you want a a T with series 1 production number or a mid range black radiator touring......
Tony Bowker, there are some pictures that have been circulated that claim to show #220 as found. The pictures show a very distressed car. Those pictures are not of #220. I saw #220 when Ben Snyder first acquired it, and except for the missing rear seat it was quite good & original! There is an article in a 1950's HCCA "Gazette" that shows #220 at a club event in St Louis and it appears just as it was when Ben got it. The pictures in Bruce McCauley's also show #220's condition when Ben got it.
Would be interesting to know when (serial number) the rear body with higher door handle elevation occurred. Equally significant about this change is that early door latches and latch plates were unique. Many thanks to KD for this earlier research. I believe a true statement is that all of the water pump touring cars had the lower handles, and used this hardware.
I also saw Don Hess's #2 when first displayed at Hershey. I specifically asked him to point out the #2 serial number. He distinctly pointed to the cast-in "2" on the crankcase. I then looked for the proper s/n stamping, between the two middle exhaust ports, and found none. I had the opportunity to see the car at a later date and looked again between the exhaust ports. That second time, I saw a "2" stamped there. Did I miss it the first time? Anything is possible...
Just stating what I observed and what I was told.
Jerry, if anyone knows early T's in this neck of the woods it's you, so I highly doubt you missed
anything the first time around! But thanks for being cautious! Do you know what serial number 1909 is in the Henry Ford Museum?
Thanks Bill. It would have to be a mighty small woods for me to be any kind of an authority.
No, I don't know the HFM car's serial number.
I’m pretty sure HFM’s car is 839. That car was a very interesting history. Jerry, I doubt you missed the “2” between the ports, it must have been placed later. If you compare the number 2 on the Hess car and those on 220, you will find the numbers are quite different.
The 2-lever car that Ford brought to the Centennial is 839.
: ^ )
Sounds to me like #220 is the winner! Thanks again for all the great input.
Is 161 an original chassis with new body?
That photo looks like Derek and Trent !
Bruce, Yes, it is. I'm sure that was taken at the Centennial. I talked with Trent right after he drove it and he had a grin from ear to ear. He said "I just drove the 2 lever car", and was like a kid with a new toy.
You should have been there when we rode in the Model B at the OCF one year ! David Liepelt drove and Trent and I were in the back seat ! It was a treat !
You Tube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ibumQvATZ4 , We ran out of gas.
It is Derek and Trent. Derek was so gracious and Trent was grinning like a jack-ass eating thistles. Oh that was a fun day.
We look younger back then...
: ^ )
I saw Don Hess’ #2 chassis and engine/transmission #22 assembly at his place back in the mid-80’s. I didn’t know much about the earliest T’s, but I remember noticing the riveting on #2’s frame rails for the reinforcement add-ons. I also specifically remember the clutch spring on #22 had a circular cross sectional area as opposed to the standard rectangular spring.
Rob, I assume you are referring to 1909 #131. The first owner I have record of is Ted Trice, Sonnet, NY. Ted sold the car to Don Hess who sold it to Ben Snyder, Riverside, CA. Ben sold it to Harrahs Auto Collection. In 1980, Ken Kesse, anahiem, CA bought the car from HAC. At some point, the block was said to be in pieces and repaired. Frame, body and many other parts are said to be repo. It was nicely restored by Mark Mahoney for Ken.
Thanks Kim. I was off on the number. It is a beautiful car. Hope your recovery is moving along well,
Kim, is 131 the block that John Stynoski found in a Chicago alley?
1909 Ford Model T #904
RV, #126 is the Stynoski car which disappeared number of years ago.
T number 1001 is here in Minnesota, but it is basically an assembled T of early parts. Very nice T in looks and operation.
Was this running board generator still with the car when you bought it? Curious whether this has the feed tube coming out of the top can, and who this was built by?