1st May, 2003
Big trip home for Aussie Model Ts
FOUR Queensland couples are about to take on the trip of a lifetime.
will drive their Model T Fords right
across America back to where the cars originally came from Detroit, Michigan and
Representing Australia for the Ford 100th anniversary
celebrations, the group have shipped their cars to California where they will start their
5,000 km journey. They will join some 40 other Model Ts in Lancaster near Los Angeles on
May 25 and travel through eight US States arriving in Detroit, Michigan on June 12.
Weve been told to
expect every type of weather from heat waves to below zero temperatures, driving rain,
sleet and even snow! said team leader Gavin Pocock, from Caboolture, who is
president of the Brisbane Vintage Car Club.
We will go across deserts and
the Rocky Mountains as well as the flat farming lands of the Mid-West. Some days we will
be doing runs of more than 320km.
Gavin and his wife Karen are quite
sure the cars will make it but car heaters werent an option in the Model T so
we hope the people make it! he said. Gavin and Karen are pictured above with the
1915 Runabout that was restored by Gavins parents Warren and Maurine in 1975.
The other three cars from Australia
are a 1924 Roadster owned by George and Chris Schoenauer from Narangba, a 1925 Roadster
belonging to Merv and Margaret Kroll of Redcliffe (both these couples are also members of
the Brisbane Vintage Auto Club) and the 1926 Doctors Coupe of Bob Collett and Trish
Hanlon from the Gold Coast. Bob and Trish belong to the Veteran Car Club and the Gold
Coast Car Club.
We started preparing for the
trip 18 months ago, said Gavin. Its a lot to ask of cars that are well
over 75 years old but, after all, they are Model Ts so we are pretty sure they will do the
job. One of the only modifications fitted to each car is a Ruckstell 2-speed rear axle
that was an aftermarket option when the cars were new.
The worlds largest automotive
homecoming rally is expected to attract more than 10,000 Ford vehicles to Detroit for the
massive centennial celebrations. The Californian-based tour will meet up with several
other tours coming from all states of America prior to arriving at Detroit.
Following the four-day celebrations
in Detroit, the four Aussie Model Ts will visit the famous Greenfield Village for a
display before they cross the border that afternoon into Canada where they will return to
Oakville near Windsor, Ontario the town where they were all originally made before
being shipped to Australia.
Then, as if driving more than 4,000
km across the USA wasnt enough, the intrepid Australians will drive south to
Baltimore a further 1,000km where the cars will be shipped back home.
The ubiquitous Model T
The Model T was simplicity itself.
It was designed that way so that local farmers and blacksmiths could repair it with basic
tools. It was often said that all you needed was a pair of pliers, a hammer and a coil of
wire to keep a Model T on the road. With its narrow wheels, high ground clearance and
three-point suspension it could literally go anywhere and was the favourite car for
settlers and explorers opening up the outback.
Model Ts became a familiar sight on
Australias roads after the 1908 introduction. They were initially imported by
separate distributors in each State and assembled with local bodies that varied in style
from one distributor to another.
In 1925 Ford Motor Company of
Australia was formed and production of the Model T began in a disused wool store in
Geelong while the huge new factory was being built on the outskirts of that city. The
first cars were fitted with bodies built by the company that was to become Fords
greatest rival, Holdens of Adelaide! When the new Geelong factory opened the bodies were
then built there by Ford.
The Australian model was rather
unique in that, unlike the later US Model T (that was available in any colour as long as
it was black because the black paint dried quicker), it was available in a large variety
Some very famous people used Ford
Model Ts in their exploits across Australia. Henry Birtles traversed thousands of miles of
the outback in one and Hudson Fysh (later Sir Hudson and founder of Qantas) used a heavily
laden Model T to map out the proposed air route from Longreach to Darwin.
So popular was the Model T that
Ford Australia built a total of 29,000 between 1925 and 1928 an average of around
1,000 cars and trucks a month! Body styles ranged from the standard open top 4-door family
tourer to the Deluxe Tourer favoured by doctors and businessmen, to the sporty Runabout,
2-seater beloved by the smart set, and the Deluxe Runabout for the wealthier man
about town and his pretty debutante partner.
As well as passenger cars there was
a Light Delivery the forerunner of the ute and a one-ton chassis that became the
preferred vehicle for farmers, tradesmen and carriers. In those days you could buy a Model
T chassis and have the body built to your own specifications. This led to many one-off
styles and lots of special buses, station wagon-type bodies, covered vans, ambulances and
petrol delivery tankers.
What made the Model T so special?
Probably its greatest feature after the low price, was its absolute reliability. The
rugged, 4-cylinder engine had a magneto ignition system built into the flywheel, the
transmission was a simple planetary gear system driving the rear wheels through a
completely enclosed tail shaft and the suspension consisted of simple transverse springs.
The chassis and many of the engine parts were made from tough Vanadium steel.
The Model T, of which 15,000,000
were made between 1908 and 1927, was available in almost every country in the world. It
was usually the first new car most people ever owned and it provided people all over the
world with a freedom of movement previously unheard of and, until then, totally
Henrys Model T literally put the world on wheels and set Ford Motor Company on the road to become one of the worlds greatest motor manufacturers.
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