Every so often the question of how fast will the Model T go. There are those who want the car to be at modern posted speeds - 65 to 75 MPH and town speeds 25 to 35. And this is for a group of cars that ceased production in 1927.
Reality could be stated the speed of the original car was fast for it's day.
A review of the Automobile Industries 1921 indicates that the majority of the states had an in town speed of 10 to 20 and a country (out of town) speed of 25 to 30.
There were a few states that were allowing cars to be driven at 35 mph.
My grandfather got a speeding ticket in Detroit, about 1920, for going 13 mph on Jefferson Avenue, (a main road going through Detroit).
These kids, zipping around in their high powered cars!!
I can say the Ts I drive at 35 go several times more trouble free miles than the ones that I used to drive at 45 or more. That's just me. Better mechanics will have different results. 54 years experience.
During the Model T era most people had lived in horse & buggy days, and a speed of 20 mph or 30 mph seemed mighty fast.
Folks need to realize that speed is also a function of road design and conditions.
90-100 years ago, most roads weren't conducive for driving at high speeds.
So, even if you had a car regardless of make that could very easily reach 65 or 75 MPH, it is highly doubtful that you ever came close to driving it that fast.
There is a fellow here in Minnesota who owns a 1929 Cadillac - it is restored to the hilt and he has made many cross country trips with it. I happened to follow him in a modern car one time on the freeway outside of Louisville, KY after an AACA meet. He has no problem driving 75 MPH because of the way freeways are designed - long flat stretches, smooth pavement, gentle curves, banked curves, etc. You couldn't sustain that type of speed for any length of time in the 1920s or 1930s.
When I was growing up, my dad had a beautiful original and unrestored 1927 Hupmobile sedan. That car could easily go 55 MPH but my dad usually kept it under 45 MPH. 40 years ago you could drive that car on the freeways in the Twin Cities. Not so today because there is a lot more traffic and other drivers are nuts.
It's always interesting to look at period road atlases or AAA maps. They often had the state speed limits including in town vs. highway listed in them. On many I have looked at the state speed limit was 45 mph in the late thirties/early forties.
Steve , thanks for the insight.
A fellow Model T enthusiast, worries about my “high speed driving” because I cruise at 30-35 mph. He is older and probably remembers the horse and buggy days. 25 mph is top speed as far as he is concerned.
Thanks for giving me a little peek at his perspective.
My Model T has a velocity "sweet-spot" of 32 mph. -At that speed, the car seems most balanced and happy and everything just seems to come together and hum contentedly. -The feel of control is very positive and my brakes have good authority. -Such a shame I can't have the Long Island Expressway all to myself, because the car would just love a nice, smooth stretch of highway with no stop signs or traffic lights.
I'm told by some of the old heads in the local chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club that a few decades ago, Sunday blue-laws would lighten traffic to the point where one could safely commit a brass car to the open highway and range out hither and yon in relative safety.
But today, a driver who shows reasonable respect for the speed limit must constrain himself to the right lane and constantly deal with merging traffic, for the trucks in the middle lane will ride within scant feet of one's rear bumper and the hat-backwards maniacs in the left lane will belligerently run others off the road while leaning on their horns.
Another concern is stopping. The Model T Ford was not designed for today's modern car speeds. If a modern car pulls in front of you, and then stops fast, the Model T Ford brakes may not be a match for the modern car brakes. It is my understanding that some modern cars have something called four wheel brakes!
Just look at photos of the 1920's roads. Cars did not go fast on those roads, partly because the roads were not very good. Some were just dirt trails. If fact I recently read that drivers needed to be careful back then as sometime the brush between the tracks in the road would open up the oil drain in the crankcase.
Speaking of crankcase, higher speed may contribute to becoming a member of the two piece crank club!
Of course driving faster than 25 mph is a risk one sometimes takes as this is not the horse and buggy days-but when it is safe to do so, it may be prudent to drive around 25 mph!.
There is a wonderful book called “Model T Tramps” in which two 21 year olds in 1921 decide to visit the four corner states driving a 1919 Model T. The journey took them a year as they work odd jobs along the way to pay for their expenses.
Two things stuck with me from reading the book.
In Montana there were NO paved roads.
Their highest speed was 25 mph on a Florida concrete road.