1909 and 1910

Most coverage of the first two yearís production of the Model T has usually been broken into three specific groups: the first 2500, the 1909, and the 1910 cars. Yet, the differences in these, aside from the radical change in engine design in the post-2500 cars, was evolutionary; with the first cars being quite similar to the last in most characteristics. One might gain a better insight to the evolution by looking at these cars as a single subject.

It is important to remember that changes were not all made at a specific date, but evolved over a period of time. For example, the first thermo-siphon (non-water pump) engine was not 2501 but 2448. Number 2455 was the second thermo-siphon, and 2456 was the third, and there were apparently some of the earlier water-pump engines built at the same time.

It is an absolute fact that Ford did not list black cars in the first three years of production (after which there are no records known to exist), and that Ford did not even list a black final body paint even in 1914. Yet the great number of apparently original black cars which are still around might make one question the accuracy of the records. Black was used for the first coats of paint on some of the green and blue bodies and this could explain some of the “black” cars— but not all of them. Did Ford employees who filled out the shipping invoices look at black cars and call them green? Or blue?

Fordís records indicate that all cars which came with tops were also supplied with side curtains, yet there seem to be original cars which never had the fasteners on the bows or bodies.

We could go on, but the list is seemingly endless. It is just these variances that make the Model T Ford so interesting. Always keep in mind that our descriptions of specific years are based on written and physical evidence, but we have not seen all the written material, nor all of the existing cars, nor is it likely we ever will. Comments are not only invited, we ask for them on bended knees!

1909 and 1910

The all new Ford Model T was announced early in 1908 to the Ford dealers, with a description and specifications that created considerable excitement in the trade. Because of the new carís many advanced features, little publicity was given about this new model for fear that the then-current Models N and S would not sell. In the June 1908 issue of Ford Times, pictures of the Model T Laundalet were shown. In the July issue an article comparing the older Model A with the new Model T, with a picture of the Model T Touring added excitement. Then in the September issue, an announcement appeared which stated, among other things, that the new Model T would be ready for delivery on October 1 but that no retail orders would be accepted until every dealer had a demonstrator. “By the middle of October we will have a Model T Coupe listing at $950,” and “November 1 for the Town Car at $1000, and the Laudaulet at $950.” On the last page of the September issue was a picture of the Model T Touring, printed in red.

Ford was a little ahead of time in his announcement. The Model T engine number one was not built until September 28, and that car was not shipped until October 1.* The October issue of the Ford Times was filled with Model T specifications and prices. The extensive coverage noted that the new Model T engine block would cost $30; the same price as the cylinder-pair casting of the Models N-R-S. The price of the Touring was $850, without top, windshield or gas lamps. The price for the top was shown as $80 extra. With all the excitement, though, just 309 Model T’s were produced in calendar 1908. Hardly enough to give one to every Ford dealer.

* Engine number one was built on September 28, however there had been a number of T engines built before this date which were used in the pre-production cars during 1908.

The Model T began a new era for American automobiles. Here was a quality car which looked good, ran well, and even more important, was priced low enough so that people in the middle income range could afford it. The phenomenal success of the earlier models N, R, and S had convinced the owners of the Ford Motor Company that great profits could be made in the low price field, and the new Model T was a giant step forward in capturing that market.

Not even Henry Ford seemed aware of just how successful this new car would be, even though it was destined to be his favorite model. (Note how new model designations were given to modest changes in his earlier cars; the Models A, C, and F were basically the same chassis, as were the Models N, R, and S. Yet in the years of evolution of the Model T, in spite of all-but-total redesigns, the car remained the Model T.) Twice during the period of 1908-1909 Ford was approached by Will Durant, then president of General Motors, with an offer to buy the company. Ford accepted both times but would only accept cash, rather than stock in General Motors. The deals fell through because the directors of GM did not feel the deal was worth that much cash.

The Ford Motor Company had more or less specialized in lower-priced cars since its inception in 1903. The first Ford, the Model A, was a simple two cylinder car, and after a short run it was superseded with a similar but improved Model C, and still later a Model F. Alex Malcomson, a major stockholder at the time, was a relatively wealthy man and a firm believer in the more luxurious car market. It was probably at his insistence that the Model B was produced in 1904. The Model B was a four-cylinder car, and proved to be a very poor seller.

The success of the Models A-C-F led to the development of a new low-priced car, the Model N. The Model N was an entirely new design. While the earlier cars had been two cylinder, chain drive, automobiles, with the engine under the seat, the Model N had a four-cylinder engine under the hood, and shaft drive to the rear axle. Not to be denied his “luxury car,” Malcomson (perhaps) insisted on a new car to replace the Model B. This was the six cylinder Model K which appeared in 1906 and floundered on through 1908.

The Model N was an instant success. To test the market for a more deluxe model, early in production it was dressed up in a slightly larger and fancier body, with full fenders, and called the Model R. The Model R sold well and resulted in the Model S which was a further improvement of the Model R. The Models N and S were the major Ford offerings between 1906 and the introduction of the Model T in late 1908. The “top of the line” Model K was another dismal failure, and was generally credited for Henry Fordís distaste for six cylinder automobiles.

The N-R-S cars were quite good by the standards of the day but they had a number of shortcomings. The planetary transmission was located at the rear of the engine, out in the open, protected only by a metal shroud, where dust and mud could get in, and lubrication could just as easily get out. The low gear was applied by pulling a hand lever on the right side of the car and this meant that the driver had to steer with one hand and hold the lever with the other on a hill or in the ever-present dirt and mud. The engine was of typical design for the era; castings of two cylinders bolted to an aluminum crankcase. Engine lubrication was by means of an external oiler, to which the owner had to constantly add oil. Ignition was by means of dry cells which had a relatively short life.

A new model began to take form almost as soon as the Model N appeared. This was to be the Model T. This new car was designed to eliminate many of the shortcomings of the automobiles of the day.

The Model T, upon introduction, offered at least seven major advances in automotive design. First was the en-bloc cylinder with a removable head. The majority of manufacturers at that time were casting cylinders in pairs, and these cylinders were of one piece. Valves were inserted in holes in the castings and covered with screw-in plugs. The Model T engine was a four cylinder one-piece casting with a separate cylinder head which not only allowed a easier assembly but also easier servicing when required at a later date.

Second was the use of pressed-steel engine, transmission, and rear axle housings. While experience would later prove this construction to have serious shortcomings, particularly in the rear axle and transmission cover, such deep and elaborate stampings had never been seen before in parts so large.

Third was the use of so-called “three point” suspension. Previous Fords, and other cars, had employed some sections of the Model T suspension but in the Model T it was carried to its ultimate advantage. By mounting the engine, front, and rear axles in a triangular fashion, the twisting of the chassis caused by the poor roads of the day did not effect the operation of components. In the Model K, for example, a strain on the chassis caused by lifting one rear wheel would twist the engine mount so that a man could not crank the car. Not only did the three-point suspension prevent such stresses from effecting the engine, its very nature greatly reduced the twisting action itself since the front and rear axles could act independently of each other while imparting almost no distortion of the chassis.

Fourth, the entire mechanism was enclosed so that oil could stay in (remember, we are talking by 1909 standards!) and dirt could stay out. Additionally, self-lubrication was provided so that the owner didn’t have to worry about filling oilers and oiling parts every few miles. The transmission was now sealed with the engine, making this new Ford a simple assembly of three major components (engine, front, and rear axles) to a light, yet strong chassis frame.

Fifth was the extended use of premium quality vanadium steel in stressed components. This steel had been used in the later Models N and S and not only made for a more rugged car, but it also allowed lighter weight assemblies. These in turn lessened the stress on the engine, axles, etc., giving the car a favorable power to weight ratio, which resulted in a “peppy” automobile.

Sixth was the introduction of left-hand drive in a major automobile, the advantages of which ultimately caused the entire American automotive industry to follow suit.

Seventh was the ease of operation, particularly after the very early cars when the three-pedal system was standard. In 1909, most Americans had never driven a car, and here was a low priced one that almost anyone could learn to drive in a very short time, and without worrying about clashing gears, grabbing clutches, and so on.

The ignition system simple, with a built-in magneto. This eliminated the worry of batteries or expensive magneto repairs, and while far from all-new, it proved quite serviceable. It also created a vast market for entrepreneurs who offered millions of ways to improve upon it!


The chassis (frame) of the Model T was the very essence of simplicity. Made of two long side members, and front and rear cross members, it was extremely light for its size. It could be easily twisted, but because of the three-point suspension, relatively little twisting action reached it. That which did get through had no effect on the engine, since it, too was mounted at three points.

The very early frames had riveted-in reinforcing plates on the inner side of the side members but these proved unnecessary and were eliminated early in production. These first frames were made of the same steel that was used on the lighter Models N-R-S and proved to be inadequate for the new car. The reinforcing plates were added after the frames were delivered to the factory, which could have been one of the reasons for the slow start-up of Model T production. Aside from modifications in the cross members, this simple design was to continue for the life span of the Model T.


The front axle was a vanadium steel forging, as were the spindles for the front wheels. It was assembled to the frame by means of a transverse spring of seven leaves, with the outer ends secured to the axle, and the center of the spring clamped to the front cross member of the chassis. The axle position was established by a triangular “wishbone” that extended to the flywheel housing of the engine, and was held there with a ball-socket arrangement. Any twisting was absorbed by the springs, not by the chassis or engine.

The spindles on the 1909-1910 Fords were so-called “one-piece” in that the steering arm was integral with the spindle body, rather than the separate piece it later became. Ball bearings were used for the wheels, with an oil seal of felt to keep the dirt out.

The tie rod and steering link were both adjustable. The tie rodís adjustment was on the left side (until about 1918), and the steering linkís was also on the left (at the steering arm). 1909-1910 cars used a steering rod with a fine (20 t.p.i.) thread for the adjusting yoke. No oilers were provided on the tie rod bolts in early production; perhaps not until late in 1909.

The radius rod fastened to the spring perches on the axle at the front. The rear ball socket was held by studs and nuts in the very early 1909 cars, then by two cap screws, 3/8-inch by 20 t.p.i. No springs were used here as on the later (beginning about 1913) cars.


The Model T rear axle was an example of simplicity carried almost to the extreme. The outer housings were drawn steel; one piece from the center seam to the brake flanges. These housings were the deepest drawing from one piece ever made to that date. The John R. Keim Mills, of Buffalo, New York, was the firm who developed the drawing process, and it was this company that initially made the axle housings, crankcases and transmission covers. Keim was later purchased by Ford, and the Keim plant became Ford’s Buffalo Assembly Plant.

At the time of its introduction, the rear axle used roller bearings at the wheels but babbitt at the inner ends of the axles, and a also had a babbitt pinion bearing. The axles were not tapered at the wheel end. The wheel was secured by a pin through the hub and axle, with this pin being held by the hub cap. A woodruff key prevented the wheel from turning on the axle. The inner differential gear was held with a key and a riveted pin until sometime in 1910 when the pin was dropped in favor of collar, similar to the common T axles.

The driveshaft was also non-tapered, with the pinion gear riveted in place, and also using a key to prevent the gear from turning. This type was used on about the first 7,000 cars, at which time the shaft with the removable gear, held by a nut, appeared. This style continued until about number 18,000 when it was replaced with the tapered-end shaft which became the standard.

Initially, the brake flanges were stamped steel but these gave way to iron castings early in production. The first rear axles had the ring gear riveted to the differential carrier, rather than being bolted in place as it was after a short period. The differential carrier was held together with studs and nuts, but no wires were used to keep the nuts from loosening. Rather, the nuts were made with a slot in the side, parallel to the top and bottom surfaces and near the upper or outer surface. When tightened in place they were hammered down on the slotted side and this prevented them from unscrewing. The ring-gear rivets and these nuts made later service all but impossible, and the change to the castellated nuts with the retaining wire also came early.

The design proved to be a poor one, however it was used with but minor changes until about car number 12,000 (October 1909) at which time the inner axle bearings were changed to roller. The inner bearing sleeves were held with an assembly which was riveted in place, creating the first “six rivet” rear axle housing. At about 18,000 (March 1910) the babbitt pinion bearing was also replaced with a roller bearing, a change which required extensive changes to the driveshaft assembly, and the addition of a reinforcing plate riveted and brazed to the center sections of the axle housings where the new driveshaft was fastened. (Rumors persist that there was a rear axle with the roller driveshaft bearing but without this reinforcement, but so such axle has “surfaced” to this writer’s knowledge.)

The new driveshaft assembly, now using the shaft with the tapered end for the pinion gear, was held to the axle housings with 3/8-inch studs and nuts during the 1910 production. These studs were increased to 13/32-inch in 1911. The driveshaft housing had a separate universal joint housing (the so-called “two piece” type) and was generally similar to the housing used until mid-1913.

Other changes were made as well. The cast-iron brake backing plates, initially (and after the first steel ones) were relatively smooth-surfaced on the outer (wheel) sides. These gave way to a stronger design with reinforcing webs. Early cars used bronze brake shoes but these were replaced with cast iron shoes in early 1909.

Washers were added around the center bolt holes during 1910 (after the change to the roller bearings), and still later a reinforcing ring was brazed in place, replacing the washers. The final design used two such rings, making the center flange considerably thicker. The dates of these changes are not certain but it is believed that the final “six-rivet” type (with the reinforced flanges) appeared in October 1910. Ford referred to this axle as the “1911 rear axle” on the shipping invoices.

During these early years, bronze bushings were used throughout the rear axle; for the differential gears, the differential housing, differential spider, etc.


The initial Model T engine (the first 2500) was designed to have an integral water pump, driven from the timing gears at the front of the cylinder. The cylinder casting was made with to provision to cover the valve stems and lifters, which made it necessary for the owner to oil the valve stems from time to time. The cylinder head bolts were just 3/8-inch diameter in the first 500 engines, and then increased to 7/16-inch diameter. The first 500 cylinder heads had no identification cast into them, while the later early heads had “Ford Motor Company” cast in on the top surface. These early engines were also unique in that they used connecting rods with oil dippers at the bottom end, and the rods had bronze bushings at the upper end for the piston pin. The piston pin was held in the piston by a screw so that it could not turn.

Because of the water pump drive gears, the crankshaft itself was unique in that it was shorter than the standard type used on all Model T’s after the first 2500. The oil filler tube was located on the left front side of the crankcase, and had a large screen-covered cup at the top. The screen covering seems to have been a problem since every existing sample of these early engines has just the remnants of it left. Perhaps the early owners ripped it away to allow easier filling.

At approximately 2500, the water pump was discontinued. This required a new cylinder casting as well as a new cylinder head, plus many relative minor modifications such as a different timing gear cover, etc. The piston and rod assemblies were changed to eliminate the oil dipper at the bottom end, and the rod now clamped to the piston pin which now rotated in bronze bushings in the piston. The crankshaft was made longer to accommodate a new crank ratchet. The oil filler was moved to its standard position in the right side of the engine, a part of the timing gear cover. The oil “cap” was just a tube with a screen at the upper end in early production, and then had a brass cap added with the “Ford” script embossed on its top.

The elimination of the water pump, with its attendant gear noise, was an improvement. The water pump engines also used a cooling fan driven from these gears, so a new belt-driven fan assembly became part of the design. Belt tension was by means of a spring between the timing cover and the fan end of the fan support arm. The cylinder head was a bit larger for more water capacity and with the water outlet now on the front of the casting instead of on the top surface as it had been in the first engines. The head now was cast with “Ford” instead of “Ford Motor Co.”

The crankcase was a drawn steel assembly even more complicated that the rear axle housings (though not as deep a drawing). The initial design had a rather long front bearing casting, with rivets that extended into the crankcase area, and no reinforcing casting at the rear flange. An oil dam was provided behind the fourth rod to keep oil under the crankshaft. The crankcase underwent a number of modifications; the front bearing was made shorter, eliminating the rivets inside the engine area; a reinforcing casting was added at the rear to better support the driveshaft housing; the oil dam was ultimately eliminated; and reinforcing ribs were added to the stamping. None of the crankcases used in 1909 and 1910 had inspection covers to allow connecting rod adjustment. Such service required complete disassembly of the engine. This basic design continued into 1911.


The Model T transmission was truly just an evolution from the planetary transmissions used in the earlier Fords but with one major difference; it was sealed in oil. By reducing the size of its components, made possible in part by the use of vanadium steel, it could now be enclosed within the engine assembly, and be lubricated by the engineís oil. As in the earlier models, it had a low gear, direct, and reverse.

The Models N, R, and S used a hand lever to control the forward gears, and a pedal for reverse, which was not an uncommon practice at the time. The Model T started life with a different system; the lever now applied the reverse, and the forward gears were controlled by the left foot pedal (push down for low, and release for high gear). This greatly simplified the control of the car and allowed the driver to keep both hands on the wheel while going forward. While this design was an improvement, it was quickly superseded by the three-pedal system for which the Ford was so famous. The two-pedal system was factory installed on approximately the first 750 cars. The three-pedal system may have appeared earlier during a transition period when both types were used. Ford offered conversion “kits” to update the two-pedal system.

Internally, the transmission remained relatively unchanged during its nineteen year life span. The earliest transmissions did not have adjusting screws on the three clutch fingers but this oversight was quickly rectified early in 1909.

Transmission covers were another matter. Like the crankcases, they underwent numerous modifications over the years, and in particular, the first year. The initial design was pressed steel, with a “square” steel inspection plate for the band adjustments. This plate was held in place by a center “bolt” which revolved a lever which in turn engaged the insides of the cover. The second design was like the first but of a somewhat different shape. The third was cast aluminum but otherwise quite similar to the steel cover, using the same inspection plate arrangement. This aluminum casting was quite thin around the inspection hole, allowing the lever to engage the underside, and stops were cast in to prevent the lever’s being turned too far. None of these covers, used on the first 750 cars, had an external low band adjustment. Evidence suggests that all of the two-lever cars used the pressed-steel covers.

The fourth change, made at the time of the change to the three pedal system, was aluminum with the relatively minor changes needed for the reverse pedal but otherwise similar to the two-pedal aluminum cover. It now had the external low band adjustment. The fifth type was still aluminum but the door was now a bit more rectangular in shape, and it was now secured with four screws. Initially it used the same inspection door as the previous design but without the bar latch arrangement, and with holes drilled for the screws. This door was superseded by a cast aluminum one, and even some steel ones have been seen (though these may have been “1911”). This cover continued until very late 1910 or early 1911, at which time it was made a bit wider to match the wider crankcase also introduced at that time.


To eliminate the problems created by the use of dry cells for ignition, a built-in low voltage magneto was made a part of the engine assembly. It consisted of sixteen elaborately shaped magnets, mounted on the front surface of the flywheel, which revolved past a fixed coil assembly attached to the rear of the cylinder casting. As in other parts, the magneto also evolved. The first 2500 engines used Ĺ-inch-thick magnets with the outer ends supported by a bronze ring. After 2500 slightly different Ĺ-inch magnets were used and the outer ends were now supported by bronze spools. At about 17,500 the magnets were increased to 9/16-inch thick, all of a similar shape. At about 20,500 they were increased to 5/8-inch, of the common “V” shape, which continued until late 1914.

The magneto field coils were wound on round bobbins, mounted on a pressed steel frame during this period. Needless to say, the coils were altered when the magnets changed.

The generated AC voltage was supplied to four coils, one for each cylinder, which were selected by a commutator at the front of the engine driven by the camshaft to generate a spark at the proper time for each cylinder. The coil boxes and coils were supplied by Kingston and Jacobson-Brandow during 1909 and 1910. The coils had the terminals on the rear which extended through the firewall to the engine compartment. Truly obsolete by 1909, nevertheless, Ford kept this system all through Model T production. Provision was made for the use of a battery in starting, since the magneto gave a relatively low output when the engine was cranked, especially in cold weather.


Radiators were supplied by several manufacturers. All were different, yet all of the same shape and therefore interchangeable. These companies were Briscoe, McCord, Detroit Radiator, and Ford Motor Co. Briscoe supplied radiators for the bulk of the first 2500 cars, but there are some factory invoices that list a “Paris” radiator, perhaps a fourth supplier. In any event, most of the early radiators were “one piece” assemblies, with the Ford “Winged Script” on the top tank but some of the earlier radiators were made with a separate, but soldered at the top, outer shell, and some came without the script. Briscoe was dropped after 2500, and the major suppliers were McCord and Detroit until about October 1909 when Ford began making their own. By mid-1910 Ford seemed to be the only supplier. All were supplied with the brass “Ford” script on the radiator core.


Wheels on all 1909 and 1910 cars used 30 by 3 inch tires on the front, and 30 by 3-1/2 inch tires on the rear. None of the tires had any tread in those days; an advancement it took Ford some time to acquire. The wheel hubs all used flanges that were just 5-1/2 inches in diameter. Front and rear hubs appeared similar during the era of the non-tapered rear axle; the rear hub being the same general shape as the front. Wheels were painted body color (red, gray, or green) and were not all striped. When they were striped, the striping varied from car to car since this was a hand operation done by more than one painter..

Bodies were offered in a number of styles, and were made by Beaudett (called “Pontiac” in Fordís records) or Wilson in 1909. In addition to the touring car, a runabout, town car, landaulet, and a coupe were offered. Touring bodies made by Beaudett came with wood or aluminum panels until about September 1909, at which time the aluminum was discontinued. All others had wood panels.

In late 1909 a tourabout was added to the line. The tourabout was similar to the touring except that there were no doors in the rear compartment. Ford referred to the tourabout as a “1910” car, as they did for all cars built after about July 1909.

The styles continued through 1910 until the introduction of the “1911” cars in very late 1910. Wilson was dropped as a supplier in 1910, with Hayes being added. (The records are not clear as to the manufacturers. “KA,” “KH,” “Hayes,” and “American” are shown and these may all be the same company. “KH” could be Kelsey-Hobert. Hayes-American is believed to be the same company, etc. As in later 1909, all bodies had wood panels, so far as is known.

Bodies were offered in various colors until June 1909, at which time a very dark green, called Brewster Green, became standard for all cars. Records do not exist for cars built before 1,119, and colors were not listed until about 1,540, but at that time tourings came in either red or green, runabouts were gray, town cars were gray or green, and the landaulets and coupes were generally green. The records indicate an occasional variation such as a green runabout or a gray touring. There is no documented evidence of black cars even though original cars which exist today appear to be black. (The “Green” was Brewster Green which is an almost-black color.)

In the early production the chassis and running gear was painted the body color but it is believed that this practice was discontinued by mid-1909, at which time such items became a uniform black.

Most, but not all, apparently, cars were striped throughout 1909-1910. The striping varied in style and placement. Some cars had body striping but none on the hood. Some wheels were striped and others were not. Striping on the axles, springs, etc. seems to have been quite common.


Little is known of the closed cars of 1909-1910. Our references are to the open models in most cases, but it is likely that where applicable, the closed cars would be similar.

Brass trim was common. Windshield brackets, side lamp brackets, etc. were generally brass plated steel. Pedal and brake trim plates were solid brass plates. The spark and throttle rods were brass plated; just the upper parts in some cars, and their entire visible length in others. Nuts and bolts used to hold dashboard items were generally either brass or brass plated.

The engine hood was aluminum after the very early cars. Initial production used a steel hood with integral hinges (pressed from the hood material), but the aluminum hood appeared early in 1909. The hood formers (on the firewall) of 1909 and 1910 cars are unique in that they have a “notch” pressed into them on the upper corners. It is believed that these notches were there to clear the hinge pins of the steel hood in the original design, and the dies that stamped the formers were not changed when the notch was no longer needed.

Hood clamps were iron, with just one ear to catch the hood. The hood clash strips were wooden, painted body color in the early production, then black.

Fenders were of unique design for 1909 and 1910. In general, they were made of equal width top panels, with the aprons formed to fit. On the first cars, the front fenders were more or less “square” at the front, with no bill. The bulk of 1909-1910 production, though, had rounded fronts with relatively short bills. Rear fenders were of a similar pattern. On the first cars the support irons, a part of the rear body support bracket, came out and under the apron of the fender. Early in 1909, though, the irons were modified in shape, and now entered through holes in the aprons, a slightly more substantial arrangement. Fenders were body color in all samples seen by this writer.

Splash aprons were relatively smooth from front to rear, with a large gap between them and the rear fenders. The front edge of the apron matched the fender line, while the rear edge had a gentle concave curve on the early cars, and a slightly convex curve on the later production.

Running boards initially were linoleum-covered with brass trim but by early 1909 these gave way to all-metal boards with a series of parallel ribs running lengthwise. This style continued, apparently, through most of calendar 1909 and into early 1910. The parallel ribs were then broken up into a series of “dashes” and this later style continued until late 1910 when the 1911 styles appeared. As on the fenders, the aprons and running boards were painted body color.


During 1909, windshields on the open cars were supplied by Rands, Troy, and Mezger. (Mezger was the manufacturer of the “Automatic” windshield.) In 1910, Troy was phased out, leaving Rands and Mezger as the suppliers. It is possible there were others but these are the brands listed on the shipping invoices of the period.

All had brass frames, and all folded at the center. Dimensionally quite similar, the center hinges and other details varied according to the manufacturer’s designs. Apparently not all windshields of the same manufacturer were exactly the same, for variations can be found from car to car.

1909 and 1910 cars came “stock” with a low firewall (called “dash”) which barely extended above the hood former. The addition of a windshield required an additional wood section between the firewall and the bottom windshield frame. This wooden section varied a bit according to the windshield. The Automatic, for example, had mounting brackets which were bolted to the ends of this board, and the board was therefore about the same width as the original firewall, with relatively square ends. The Rands windshield, on the other hand, mounted to the top of the board, and the boards on these flared out towards the windshield frame sides. These boards were bolted to the firewall using brass plated steel brackets and brass-plated bolts and nuts. There was no brass trim other than the mounting brackets on the board.

All windshields were supported by brass (or brass plated) rods which ran from the center hinge to the front of the chassis, fastening either to the radiator mounting bolt or to the forward fender bracket bolt.

The Rands and the Mezger were similar in general construction, differing mainly in the hinge arrangement. On both types, the top section could be folded to the rear.

The Mezger featured a hook-latch arrangement with an exposed spring. The hooks tend to hold the upper section in place when it is upright, while the springs aid in the support in either the upright or lowered position.

The Rands had a simple hinge with a telescoping upper tube with an internal spring. This tube is fully collapsed when the upper section is upright and because of the spring tension it holds the upper section in place. When folded to the rear, the two sections of the upper tube separate, then close again to hold the upper section firmly down.


Initially, and through most of 1909, tops were listed as optional equipment. Nevertheless, a good many touring and runabouts left the factory with tops, windshields, and gas lamps, so they could be considered more or less standard. The tops supplied on the touring cars were all black, with and without a red lining (in all samples the author has seen), and with and without the windshield curtain. The back panel on all could be rolled up.

Runabout TOPS on the other hand came in both black and gray in the early part of 1909 (before the change to all green cars in June), and also with and without the lining, and with and without the roll up windshield curtain. Later runabouts used just the black tops. The rear curtain on the runabouts also rolled up.

Top sockets were painted body color on some, if not all, cars until about June 1909 at which time it is believed they were all black. The top sockets were all of the curved type, with an oval cross section. The sockets all were mounted on a separate forged “buggy rail” which in turn was bolted to the body. This rail was painted black on all cars and came as standard equipment.

The top was supported at the rear by leather straps which ran from the rear bow to the support rail in the rear, and from the front bow to a bracket at the radiator mounting bolt in the front.

Interestingly, the roll-down front windshield curtain (on some top assemblies) came even though the car also had a glass windshield. This arrangement continued well into 1910 when windshields were supplied on all cars. It is not known if all cars came with this windscreen.


Oil lamps were standard equipment on all cars. In 1909 they were supplied by Edmond and Jones (E&J), Atwood Castle, or Jno. Brown. The E&J lamps were marked “Pat. 1908,” the Browns were model 60, and the Atwood Castles were model 204. (Tail and Side lamps). The Atwood Castles were discontinued during 1909, leaving the E&J and Browns only in 1910 production.

Gas headlamps were options in 1909 but became standard late in the year on the open cars. They were always an option on the closed cars for some reason. The same manufacturers supplied the gas lamps as supplied the oil lamps. The E&J’s were model 466, the Browns were model 15, and the Atwood Castles (1909 only) were model 84. The gas generators were also made by these firms. Generators were often replaced by Prestolite tanks at the factory. All lamps were all-brass.

The gas lamps were connected to the generator (or Prestolite tank) with metal tubing between the lamps and from the tank to the left front lamp. Red rubber hoses were used as short couplings to the tank and lamps from the metal pipes.


The vast majority of 1909 Fords were equipped with Kingston 5-ball carburetors. These Kingstons did not have a choke valve, and the air intake was through an inlet at the bottom which made a right-angle turn upwards. A hot air pipe fit this inlet and rose to the manifold at the rear of the carburetor. It is not certain if this hot air pipe was used on all cars. During the early part of 1909, the factory shipping invoices also list a Buffalo carburetor. Buffalo had been a supplier of carburetors to Ford for the Model K, and perhaps others. The author has yet to see an actual sample of this Buffalo carburetor but it is believed to been of about the same shape as the Kingston. The Buffalo was not used after June 1909, until early 1910.

For 1910 the same Kingston continued for a time and then the air inlet fitting was modified to now bend at about a 45 degree angle, and included a choke valve. This fitting faced toward the front of the engine, with the hot air pipe running to a “stove” at the front corner of the exhaust manifold. Exactly when this change was made is unknown but it was believed to be before the 1911 models.

In addition to the Kingston, a new Holley carburetor was used on a good number of cars. This was the Holley 4150 and it came in two types of the same design. One used a “pot metal” upper body while the other was a bronze casting. The air intake was similar to the later Kingston, with a choke valve and the same type of hot air system.

Buffalo apparently convinced Ford they had something to offer because in the first three months of 1910 its name again appears on the shipping invoices. This Buffalo had the choke setup cast as a part of the lower housing, was made of bronze, and was quite complex compared with the Kingston and Holley. In any event, it was last used about March, and Buffalo never again graced the manifold of a Model T Ford.


Horns used in 1909 and 1910 were all similar. Made by Rubes or Non-Pareil, they were all brass and were “double twist.” (These have been called “triple twist” but there are just two loops in the horn.) The flexible metal hose from the rear of the horn (where the reed assembly was located) ran unsupported to the bulb which was fastened on the left side panel next to the driver on the wood-bodied cars, and on the front of the side panel wooden support on the Beaudett (Pontiac) aluminum bodies.

Specific data on 1909
Specific data on 1910
GO TO 1911

© Bruce W. McCalley. Rev. July 1, 2000.