1917 Ford Model T – the most influential car of the 20th century

1917 Ford Model T – the most influential car of the 20th century

Horsepower20 HP (14.72 KW) @ 1600 RPMTorque83 Ft-Lbs (113 NM) @ 900 RPMWeight1543 lbs | 699.893 kgDrive TypeRear WheelEngine LocationFrontTransmission2 Planetary , 2 Manual

The Model T or “Tin Lizzie” is the car that started the entire mass-produced automotive industry. It was the brainchild of the genius Henry Ford, who proved to the world that a machine can be inexpensive to produce without sacrificing its quality.  No wonder, he managed to “put America on wheels.”

Source: Vintage Car Collector

Model T – the result of industrial espionage

The famous “Tin Lizzie”, is a result of industrial espionage. “Tin Lizzie” owes her reliability to espionage, which was personally organized by Henry Ford. At one of the races in Florida at the very beginning of the 20th century, he saw that after the car accident nothing happened to the French pilot. He managed to take a piece of steel with him for investigation. It turned out that this extra strong metal was created using vanadium alloying technology. And as there were no specialists that knew the production secret he invited a specialist from Europe, who disclosed the secret of the production. So, the first copy of the Ford Model T in history was assembled on September 27, 1908.

1917 Model T

Source: Vintage Car Collector

Ford intended to build the cheapest possible machine – but not at the expense of reliability! Therefore, the frame of the machine was riveted from extra strong steel alloyed with vanadium. It was equipped with a rather powerful 4-cylinder 20-horsepower engine with a working volume of 2.9 liters for those times. The cylinders were cast in one block – also an unusual solution for that era. The design of the 1917 Tin Lizzie, like its predecessors, was so simple that the car was cheap even without an assembly line. Ford also made sure that the machine was not difficult to manage. Switching gears on the machines of that year was a real torment. Especially for the T model, a two-speed planetary gearbox was developed, which was actuated by a pedal that had three positions corresponding to neutral, first, and second gears. Another pedal turned on the reverse gear, the third pedal activated the transmission brake, and there was no clutch pedal in the vehicle at all – they did without it. As for the accelerator, it was also located in an unusual place – its functions were performed by a lever on the steering wheel. There were only two springs on the vehicle, and both were transverse semi-elliptical. Such an archaic solution will continue on subsequent models, even on the “eights” produced in the 30s. While the Model T never went through any major construction changes in its 19 years of production, there were numerous small modifications along the way. Some, such as the 1913 switch from cowhide to the faux leather interior, cut costs. Others, such as the introduction of electric headlights in 1915, included technological improvements. The sleeker radiator and hood of 1917 were a slight concession to style. 

Men riding in a 1917 Model T

Photographer/Credit: Harris & Ewing

In addition to the simplified design, the brand’s excellent organization of production was another trump card. For example, to reduce costs and be less dependent on suppliers, the famous inventor started metallurgical production. He gave instructions to subcontractors about the size of the boards for the boxes where the parts were supplied. Then the machine’s wooden parts were cut out of these boards. The remaining wood was burned into charcoal, which was also sold. Such a struggle for dollars and cents led to the fact that the T model was extremely cheap – some $825. And by 1917, the price tag for a machine was only $350, after 1920 it was less than $300.

Model 1917 did not need advertising

It’s a fact that Ford placed advertisements with every newly released vehicle. But the “Tin Lizzie” was so successful that he just stopped doing it, relying on word of mouth. Indeed, the popularity of the model simply went off the scale, so the famous machine maker did not give any advertising for the 1917 model. Over the years of Tin Lizzie’s conveyor life (1908-1927), the Ford Motor Company produced more than 15,000,000 copies. Decades later, this record was broken by another “national car” – the Volkswagen Beetle.

Did you know?

There are several versions of this nickname’s origins. According to one of the versions, farmers used to call their horses Lizzie, so it turned out that the Model T was associated with a tin horse. There is another dubious one: the Irish called sporty beautiful girls “Lizzie”. Was the Model T beautiful? For some Irish, maybe yes. In fairness, these are not the only nicknames of the famous manufacturer’s offspring. Historians number about twenty. Among them is Flivver, from the English slang word flivver, which can be translated as “affordable, cheap” – a very proper name for Model T.

To see what the car looks like today, be sure to check out our inventory!

1917 Ford Model T – the most influential car of the 20th century

Horsepower20 HP (14.72 KW) @ 1600 RPMTorque83 Ft-Lbs (113 NM) @ 900 RPMWeight1543 lbs | 699.893 kgDrive TypeRear WheelEngine LocationFrontTransmission2 Planetary , 2 Manual

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Mon - Fri
Saturday
Sunday
9am - 6pm
9am - 3pm
Closed