About the Model T
Model T Simulator
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Ford Model T
Model T - Center Door
Model T and Henry Ford
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The Ford Model T
The Ford Model T was an American
car built between 1908 and 1928 by the Ford Motor
Company of Detroit, Michigan. It is one of the most
important cars in history because it was one of the
first cars to be sold for very little money, making it
easy for people to travel from place to place.
First sold in 1908, Henry Ford’s
Model T was sturdy, reliable, and easy to drive. In
1913, it became the first car to be mass-produced in a
factory on a moving assembly line. At the peak of
production, up to 10,000 cars left the factory each day,
bringing the price down to a level that ordinary people
could afford. From 1914 until 1925, all Model Ts were
black. This was because black paint dried the quickest,
allowing the assembly line to operate at top speed. Ford
had built 15 million Model Ts when he stopped making the
car in 1927, a record number that was overtaken only by
Volkswagen’s Beetle in 1972.
Why the Model T was
Before the Model T, most cars cost lots of money. Only
people with lots of money could afford them. Even Ford's
cars before the Model T cost a lot of money. The model t
went for around $980. A car built in 1903 called the
Oldsmobile Curved Dash was very easy to buy, but was a
very simple and slow car that was more like a buggy than
The man who owned the company, Henry Ford, heard about
meat being packed on an assembly line, which moved meat
from worker to worker so that the meat could be cut up.
No one had ever thought to use an assembly line to put
cars together. Ford knew that if he built his cars on an
assembly line instead of one at a time like other cars,
he could make a car that anyone could afford and would
be built like cars that cost more money. He also knew
that he could pay his workers lots more money.
The Ford Model T car was designed by Henry Ford, Childe
Harolde Wills and two Hungarian men named József Galamb
and Eugene Farkas. The Model T had a 177 cubic inch (2.9
L) four-cylinder engine producing 20 horsepower (15 kW)
for a top speed of 45 miles per hour (72 km/h). The
engine had side valves and three main bearings. Fuel
economy was 14 to 21 miles per gallon (6 to 9 km/l), an
excellent number even today.
The Beginning of the Model T
Ford began building the Model T in his Piquette factory
on October 6, 1908 as a 1909 model. Workers from all
over the world wanted to work for Ford because of the
good pay. Workers could even save their money for a
Model T of their own. The price of the Model T dropped
over the years, making it even easier to buy.
Work began at one end of the assembly line, starting
with an empty chassis. From there, the chassis moved
slowly down the assembly line. Workers on the assembly
line added parts to the chassis. Before long, a new
Model T rolled off the other end of the line. Different
body styles were available, even a truck, or Model TT.
At first, the only color available was black. Black
paint was used because it was cheaper than other paints
and Ford was obsessed with increasing profit. As car
paint got better over the years, Ford began offering
other colors. The time it took a chassis to become a
finished car was over twelve hours when the first Model
T's were built. By the time the last Model T came off of
the line, Ford had so many auto plants it was making one
car every 27 seconds!
Even though the Model T sold for little money, Ford used
the best materials he could buy to make his car. Most
roads in the Model T's day were dirt, gravel or even
mud. That meant the Model T had to be very strong, and
it was. The wheels and tires were very tall and skinny
so that they could sink into mud roads and not get
stuck. It was also very simple.
How to drive a Model T
Learn about how
the Model T's special gearbox works - try out
the Model T Simulator!
Ford made the Model T easy to drive compared to today's
cars since the people he sold his cars to did not know
how to drive anything other than a horse. It is not like
driving a modern car, even though there are three pedals
on the floor like a modern manual transmission car. A
Model T has a steering wheel that works the same way as
in cars of today, but almost everything else is
The first Model T's did not even have a starter like a
modern car. This is the powerful electric motor in a car
that turns the engine to make it run when it is turned
off. The engine on the Model T was started with a hand
crank on the front of the car. A wire loop near the
radiator worked the choke on the carburetor to give the
engine extra fuel to help start it when it was cold.
This could be dangerous if a person was not careful. If
the levers that controlled the engine were not set the
right way, especially the spark control, the engine
could backfire, or spin the wrong way. Many people got
broken arms this way. Doctors even had a special name
for this kind of break: the "Ford Fracture." Many Model
T owners added electric starters to their cars and it
was not long before Ford started doing the same. A Model
T is in high gear by default, so if the Parking/Clutch
lever was not engaged, the car had a tendency to run
over the operator when started.
To make a modern car go or accelerate once the engine is
running, a person steps on a pedal on the floor to
engage the transmission into low gear. To make a Model T
accelerate, move two levers near the steering wheel. The
lever on the right was the throttle (or engine speed),
and the lever on the left adjusted the time that the
spark plugs fired. These levers needed to be set
properly before the engine could be started.
The three pedals on the floor of the Model T were for
the brake on the right, reverse in the middle to make
the Model T go backwards, and a pedal on the left to
shift the gears from low to high speed. A lever on the
floor worked the brakes as well as the clutch. Pulling
the lever toward the driver would set the parking brake
and help keep the car from moving while parked. When the
lever was placed in the middle, the transmission would
be in neutral.
Once the engine is running, the driver now has to make
the Model T move on its own. Step on the pedal all the
way to the left, move the throttle lever to "give it the
gas" and gently move the floor lever forward. This is
low gear, the powerful gear used to get the Model T
moving. Once it's moving, move the right lever up, let
the left pedal come all the way up, and give it more gas
to shift into high. To make the car go faster still,
move the throttle lever as well as the spark advance
lever. Stepping on the left pedal only halfway puts the
car in neutral, the same as the lever. This helps the
Model T come to a stop without causing the engine to
stop as well.
The brakes on a Model T work the rear wheels by the use
of brake bands inside the transmission. Modern cars have
brakes on all four wheels. No brakes are on the front of
a Model T.
More than fifteen million (15,000,000) Model T cars were
built. It was not until 1971 that the record was broken
by the Volkswagen. Today, the record for the most cars
built is held by the Toyota Corolla, with over forty
million (40,000,000) made.
The Model T was nicknamed the "Tin Lizzie" and "Flivver"
by the people who drove it. A new car took the place of
the Model T in 1928, the Ford Model A.