The 1914 Model T Ford style year has created a good amount of confusion. There are many “1914s” around that are called “1913” and the owners can prove that the car was, indeed, made in 1913. Further, the “1914” style was built at some of the branches in calendar 1915, and apparently at the same time that the new “1915” cars were being built at Highland Park. There is some evidence that the 1914 cars were built, at some of the branches, as late as March or April of 1915.

The facts are that the 1914 style began in later 1913, perhaps as early as August, at the Highland Park plant. Ford issued a letter on July 28, 1913, announcing, “1914 prices effective August 1, 1913: Touring, $550; Runabout, $500; Town Car, $750.” The letter does not indicate a “new” style, however.

The 1913 Touring body had been somewhat of a disaster. The rear section was a separate unit, supported only by the wooden body sill initially. Early versions were so weak that a reinforcing bracket was made to couple the front and rear sections. Later the sill was made of heavier material, and an additional body bracket was added at the front of the rear seat section. These cars came with and without the reinforcing bracket (which was supplied by Ford as a repair part). It is quite likely that Ford came up with the modified body with the sheet metal coupling the two sections, typical of the 1914 through 1925 bodies, before September 1913.

In any event, the 1914 style differed mainly from the 1913 in that the doors no longer extended to the splash apron, but now had rounded bottoms and were set into the sides of the body, a characteristic of Ford bodies for years to come. The “1914” style, then, is this “rounded door” body coupled with the wooden firewall/sloping windshield style of the 1913 cars.

The 1914 style year was a time of Ford’s greatest changes. The moving final assembly line, the Five Dollar Day, the $50 Rebate, and Ford’s first 300,000 unit production record all occurred during this period. And, of course, the car itself evolved considerably.

Perhaps the second most noticeable change in the car was the new but similar windshield. The 1913 type could be folded down but it folded forward towards the front of the car. This arrangement made it difficult, if not dangerous, to fold or unfold the windshield while driving. For 1914 the windshield was made to fold to the rear, or towards the driver, and this operation could be done while driving. In order for the windshield to fold back, the windshield support brackets were given a “bend” to clear the windshield frame when it was folded.

The fenders continued in the 1913 style initially, but during the year they were modified to now include a reinforcing rib across the widest section of the front fender. Still later, the “bill” on the front fenders, dropped for the 1913 models (in 1912), was reinstated, and continued until the introduction of the 1917 models in August 1916. Still later, the triangular beading was added to the apron area of the front fender. That about does it for the major visible differences between a “1913” and a “1914.”

“Invisible” changes were many, though. Typical of Ford, nothing was done all at one time. For example, the wooden coil boxes used since 1909 (in the Model T) were discontinued in favor of a metal box during the 1913 model year. Early 1914 style cars used the metal boxes but they were supplied by outside makers. During 1914 Ford began making its own boxes and coils, so a “1914” may have either type.

The so-called “two-piece” driveshaft was dropped during the 1913 style year. Early 1914s used the two-piece type while the later ones used the one-piece style. (It is likely that some 1913s may have used the newer type as well.)

Speedometers, standard equipment on the Model T since early 1909, were discontinued, for a short time at least, because of a shortage in supply. According to a letter dated November 4, 1913, a $6.00 allowance was to be made in the price of the car when there was no speedometer installed.

Ford’s increasing sales resulted in a reduction of prices. On August 1, 1914, the following prices were announced: Touring, $490; Runabout, $440; Town Car, $690. These prices did not include a possible $40 to $60 rebate, pending on the sale of 300,000 cars by August 1915.

The engine casting was modified somewhat during the 1913-1914 period. The first 1913 cars used an engine almost identical to the 1912 cars. The major characteristics of this engine were the “lip” at the rear of the cylinder casting, and the screw-in pipe plugs in the water jacket on the right side. During 1913, and probably appearing in the 1913 style year, the lip was eliminated but the pipe plugs continued. Still later, and typical of most 1914 cars, the pipe plugs were replaced with pressed-in welch plugs.

There were, of course, many variations in the engine castings. It is quite possible that all three types of engines were built at the same time, with the older designs being phased out as new casting cores were made.

Transmission covers were of aluminum, as they had been since 1909. During the 1913 model year, reinforcing ribs had been cast into the cover around the bolt holes at the flywheel housing in an effort to strengthen the casting. It had been quite easy to crack the cover when tightening the bolts after changing the transmission bands, and these reinforcements made it a bit stronger. Transmission cover doors were flat steel. Foot pedals continued with the lettered design, to be replaced with a ribbed pattern in early 1915.

Carburetors were either Holley or Kingston. Early production 1914 cars may have come with the Holley Model S (2-screw) but the most common Holley was the Model G, a similar design but with the cover secured with three screws. The Kingston carburetor was the “four-ball” Model Y. It is possible that the Kingston Model L appeared in 1914 cars in the later production. Intake manifolds were aluminum in early production but the typical 1914 engine used a cast-iron intake manifold of almost identical design.

Late in the 1914 model year the magneto was enlarged and the magnets were now 3/4” thick. This change began with 572,437 on September 4, 1914, and by October (after 598,041) all engines had the new magneto. The new magneto was needed to supply power for the electric headlamps used on the then-new closed cars, introduced in the fall of 1914. (While the Sedan and Coupelet were introduced in 1914, they are considered to be 1915 cars and are not a part of this coverage.) The Touring and Runabouts continued in the 1914 pattern until about February 1915, when the 1915 style began to be produced at the Highland Park plant.

It is believed that all 1914-style open cars used gas headlamps but it is quite possible the later ones came with electric lamps. In a letter to the branches, dated January 12, 1915, Ford noted that they were no longer supplying the gas lamp tube on the radiators “as all cars now have electric lights.” (A tube, part number T-4052X, was listed for use when the new radiator was used to replace the older type on a gas-lamp car.) Yet it was not until February 1915 that the 1915 style car bodies were being shipped to the branches. Therefore, one would think that 1914 bodies built until about March or April came with electric lights. On the other hand, we have seen a number of pictures of 1915-style Tourings (old pictures of seemingly original cars) with gas lamps. Ford never admitted to using gas lamps on a “1915” and it is possible that owners, unhappy with the poor electric lights, replaced them with the older gas type.

All 1914-style cars used the new chassis frame with the longer rear cross-member. The date of the change from the old frame with the forged body brackets is not known for certain but evidence would indicate the new chassis appeared about May, 1913. A letter to the Ford branches notes that the longer rear member began to be used “after 114,000 1913 cars.” Ford, in other records, indicates that “1913” production began with 157,425 on October 1, 1912. Adding the 114,000 to this number puts it at 271,425 and the engine bearing that number was built on May 16, 1913. No doubt both the old and the new frames were used in production until the older style were used up.

1914 is commonly believed to have been the first year of the “any color as long as it’s black” policy. Parts Lists all indicate wheels were “blue” but this may have been an oversight on the part of the people who made up the lists. To add even more to the confusion, though, the following list of paints was published on December 2, 1913, well into the “1914” model year:

F-1011763 1st coat plastic black japanFenders and shields F-102 1001 2nd coat black japan Fenders and shields F-103   258 1st coat blue dipping Hoods and rear axles F-104 1355 2nd coat quick drying blackRear axles F-105     40 1st coat brushing black japanFront axles F-106   459 2nd coat brushing black japan Front axles F-107   450 Blue black baking Coil box F-108 1843 1st coat black wheel surfacer Wheels F-109   260 2nd coat blue color varnish Wheels F-110   417 2nd coat black brushing Frame F-111   488 1st coat red baking body primer Body F-112     66 Black glaze putty, 2nd operation Body F-113   948 2nd coat blue ground Body F-114   619 Solid rubbing body blue Repairs only F-115   480 3rd & 4th coat blue color varnish Body F-116   908 5th coat black striping color Not used regularly F-117 1435 Fine French Gray deep striping Wheels F-118 1761 Oil proof steel blue Painting machines F-119   896 Black engine dipping Crankcases

Still further confusion presents itself. In a letter dated March 22, 1917, Ford said, “As we expect to paint all bodies black by April 15th, we ask that you kindly give us an inventory of all the F-113 (blue body paint) you now have on hand, and that you do not requisition any more of this material beyond your needs to April 15th.” This letter was mailed to Ford assembly plants and would seem to indicate that there were some blue cars as late as 1917!

To add to the confusion, another letter, dated February 20, 1919, addressed to the branches, said, “As closed bodies are now being painted black, instead of green as heretofore, also carmine striped, it becomes imperative that the branches prepare to repair bodies when needed according to the new color. It is necessary that someone in your paint shop, accustomed to the method of striping, be assigned to this work, as this section of body painting is something new for branches to contend with. Striping pencils and carmine paint for striping will be furnished you for this purpose upon request for same.”

In the same letter, Ford goes on with “New paint specifications. . . These are being sent you at this time and comprise the change in sedan, coupe, touring car and torpedo body painting, according to the latest information. You will note the change in the Symbol number of paint used in painting closed bodies, as well as that for the touring car and torpedo bodies, and wheel paint, as called to your attention in our general letter of the 11th and 12th. F-165 and F-166 will be held for repairs only on closed bodies which were formerly painted green.”

There is no indication of just when “formerly painted green” was. There were, of course, no closed bodies in the 1914 line of Fords, but the 1915 Sedan and Coupelet appeared in October 1914. Were these green? Blue? The author has seen very few closed cars of the 1915 to 1919 era, and all have been black. Just a little more confusion to add to the enigmatic Model T story.

Upholstering was all leatherette except for the front roll of the arm rests. There seems to be some evidence of the seat bottom cushions being supplied in full leather during this period, so either type of bottom cushion might be correct. The seat backs were made in three main sections; the two sides and a separate back. Pictures of Ford assembly lines during the upholstery installation will confirm that the upholstery was not all one piece.

The doors were also covered with leatherette, with tacked-in-place trim strips. There were two major changes in design here, beside the rounded doors. The 1913 cars used a separate metal trim strip along the tops of the doors, while the 1914 (and later) bodies were made with the body metal folded over to cover the edge. The door handles, which extended up through the top edge in 1913 bodies, now were inside the doors.

The transmission cover was of aluminum, as in previous models. During 1913 reinforcing ribs were added around the bolt holes at the front corners. The actual date of this change is unknown. We have seen later 1914 cars with the non-reinforced cover. The typical inspection door during this period was a flat piece of steel with no “Ford” or other markings.

The original exhaust pipe was made with gentle bends so that the pipe cleared everything and was easy to install, unlike the replacements found today.

At least three carburetors were used during 1914 production; perhaps more. The first cars used either the Kingston “Y” four ball or the Holley “S” two screw. The Kingston continued through 1914 but the Holley was replaced with the model “G” of similar design but now with three screws to hold its top plate. It is quite possible that the so-called “1915” Holley “G” (similar to the 1914 model G but with a different air intake horn) and the new Kingston model “L” appeared on some of the later 1914s.

Head, side and tail lamps continued the styles and models used in 1913 with few changes. Corcoran, one of the minor suppliers in 1913, was apparently dropped, leaving E&J, Brown, and Victor as the manufacturers used in 1914. In later production some of the side lamps were supplied with integral mounting brackets, eliminating the need for the separate brackets, and resulting in lower manufacturing costs for Ford.

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