1921 Ford Model T


Back to Index


ENGINE SERIAL NUMBERS: 4,698,420 to 5,568,071 calendar year. 4,233,352 to 5,377,545 fiscal year (August 1, 1920 to July 31, 1921).

MODEL YEAR DATES: August 1920 to August 1921.

BODY TYPES: Touring, Runabout, Sedan, Coupe, Chassis and Truck.

MAJOR MODEL YEAR FEATURES:A new body for the tourings had been announced in June 1920. Similar to the earlier style, the rear section was now three pieces (instead of five), with no vertical seam on the rear side quarter panel. Seats were lower and had higher backs. The older style body continued for a time before the new one became standard, perhaps into 1921. (Some sources even say late 1921.) The runabout continued in the earlier style until late 1922 (1923 cars). The sedan was relatively unchanged from previous years, except for a solid roof panel, replacing the open-padded assembly which had been used until late 1920.
The oval gas tank was standard (introduced during calendar 1920).
Top iron supports now come through the side panels instead of being the “L” shaped brackets used previously.
The Runabout continued in the previous style. The Coupelet and Sedan continued with minor modifications.


COLORS: All cars were painted black, with black fenders.

UPHOLSTERY: Imitation leather in the open cars. The pattern was a stitched vertical pleat design on both seat bottoms and backs. Closed car upholstery was gray cloth with a lined pattern as in 1920.


FENDERS: Curved and crowned, unchanged since 1917.

SPLASH APRON: Same as previous years.

RUNNING BOARDS: Same as previous years.

HOOD: Steel. Hold-down clamps had two “ears” and were of pressed steel. Handles were pressed steel but were now made in such a way that they could be fastened to the hood without a separate rivet. (A “hole” appeared where the rivet was.)

DASHBOARD (Firewall): Wood, fitted outside the front cowl, hidden by the metal cowl weather strip.

CHASSIS: Same as 1920 except that the running board brackets were now steel channels running from side to side and were much stronger than the forged bracket and tie rod arrangement of previous models. Painted black.

STEERING COLUMN ASSEMBLY: Pressed steel, black painted, quadrant, Zinc-plated spark and throttle levers, with flattened metal ends. Gear case was brass but zinc plated, one piece assembly. Wheel was 16” outside diameter, made of “Fordite” (synthetic material), and painted black. The wheel spider was pressed steel and painted black. Horn button same as in 1920.

FRONT AXLE: Same as the 1920 cars.

REAR AXLE: Same as 1920.

DRIVESHAFT HOUSING: Same as 1920. The forged bearing spool was now standard.


WHEELS: Used 30 by 3 tires in front; 30 by 3-1/2 in the rear. Front wheels used taper-roller (Timken) bearings except in the non-starter, non-demountable open cars. Hub caps were redesigned with a wider rim around the top label area. They still had “Ford” in script letters and “ Made in USA” on all caps. Demountable-rim wheels were standard on closed cars, and optional on the open models; and used 30 by 3-1/2 tires all around.

SPRINGS: Non-tapered, front and rear. “L” shaped shackles of the forged type.


RADIATOR: Supplied by Ford. Same as that introduced in 1919.

ENGINE: Same as 1920. Starter was still optional on the open cars.

ENGINE PAN: “Three-dip” with wider front “snout.”

OIL FILLER CAP: The mushroom-shaped cap, made of steel, with three flutes.

ENGINE CRANK: The plain steel sleeve type as used since 1914.

ENGINE FAN: Same as 1920.

MANIFOLDS: Exhaust pipe flared at the manifold and was held in place with the brass nut but with no packing. Intake was cast iron.

CARBURETORS: Kingston Model L4, Holley Model NH, or Ford F.

CARBURETOR STOVE: Sheet metal type which rose vertically at the rear of the carburetor and mated with the exhaust manifold at the rear corner, being held by the rear manifold retaining stud/nut.

MUFFLER: Pressed steel type with no tail pipe, the same as that introduced in 1920.

FUEL TANK: Elliptical, under the front seat. Mounting brackets clamped to the tank. Outlet was between the center and the right side, between the frame rails. The Sedan continued the square tank under the driver’s seat. The Coupe used the sedan tank located in the turtle deck.

TRANSMISSION: Three pedal standard-design. Pedals were of the plain type. Transmission cover was cast iron, and modified to accept the starter. Tapered inspection door, held with six screws. The door was of pressed steel with an embossed pattern.

COIL BOX ASSEMBLY: Ford. Same as used in 1920. Starter cars no longer had the ignition switch on the box; it was moved to the instrument panel.

LAMPS: Magneto powered electric type on the non-starter cars, and six volt electric on the starter models. Black steel rims. A green-visored lens replaced the clear type for a short time, then the visored lens was superseded by the Ford “H” fluted lens which became the standard through 1927. Side and tail lamps were similar to 1917 on the non-starter cars. Starter cars had a small electric tail light and did not have side lights.

HORN: Magneto powered electric.

WINDSHIELD: Upright, with top section that folds to the rear. Frame was bolted to the brackets. Painted black. Same as 1920.

TOP: (Open cars). Top color was black on all open cars. Sockets were the same as those used since 1918.


SPEEDOMETER: No longer standard equipment.

TURTLE DECK (on Runabout): Similar in style to the 1919. Handles are pressed steel and painted black.


1921 Changes


FEB 15

Acc. 575, Box 14, #831, Ford Archives

Coupe body had apparently been modified to have the gas tank under the seat in part of 1920 production. Directive advising of change back to the square tank in the rear deck made this date. The height of the coupe seat seemed to be the problem.


MAR 10

Acc.235, Box 38, #697, Ford Archives

"We enclose you herewith sheet #3 of our paint specifications on Coupe and Sedan bodies. This sheet gives you the information covering those portions of the paint operations performed at the branches.
"We call your attention in particular to Operation #16, wherein it is noted that all inside moldings, window jambs, windshield frames and door jambs be given one coat of Black Satin Finish F-192."



Acc. 575, Box 14, #832, Ford Archives

Oil holes in the frame rails for the brake lever shaft discontinued.


APR 26

Acc. 575, Box 14, #836, Ford Archives

Bendix cover now painted black instead of zinc plated.


MAY 12

Engine production records, Ford Archives

"Began using Heinze commutators."


MAY 28

Engine production records, Ford Archives

Engine 5,000,000 built at 7:05 A.M. Given to Edsel Ford.


JUN 26

Acc. 235, Box 38, Ford Archives

"Please discontinue furnishing T6881, Top Dust Hood for Touring Car, T6939 Top Dust Hood for Torpedo, and T1923, Tool Box, as regular equipment on new cars as soon as your available stock is exhausted.
"Top hoods may be carried as extra parts in your service stock and supplied at regular catalog price hereafter."


JUL 14

Acc. 1701. Model T Releases, Ford Archives

Specified that the shape of the spokes be changed from oval to round. (This may have occurred earlier than this date.)


JUL 19

Acc. 235, Box 38, Ford Archives

"We wish to call your attention to the new style pressed steel running board bracket which has gone into production and as shipments have been made to some of the branches we ask that you kindly note the changes which will go into effect through the adoption of this new bracket." (A list of the parts followed.)


JUL 17

Acc. 235, Box 38, Ford Archives

"Supplementing our General Letter No. 793 under date of June 18the, wherein we mention the fact that Sedan Side Curtains T10300A1, A2, A3 and T10300B, are to be held for repairs only. This means that side curtains will not be included in standard sedan equipment in the future." (These are the side window curtains.)



Henry Ford Office Files, Ford Archives

The following letter was received from the Holley Carburetor Company:
"Dear Mr. Ford:
"A situation which I consider unjust to us has developed at the Highland Park factory which I respectfully request receive your serious consideration.

1. A contract was made between the Holley Carburetor Company and the Ford Motor Company, September 1, 1920, in which the Ford Motor Company was given a shop right to manufacture our NH carburetor, the consideration being orders to be placed with us for 50% of the carburetors used on the Model T cars. From September 1st to June 30th we received orders for 34% of the cars produced.

2. We installed machinery to produce 5,000 carburetors per day. The above contract provided for one year's notice of cancellation. This notice was given us on April 21st, 1921. Since that time, machinery has been installed in the Highland Park factory to produce carburetors known as Model F, which is identical with Model NH with the exception of a slight change in the mixer chamber venturi, as per sketch attached. We are informed that they have orders to produce 3000 of these carburetors per day while we have never produced more than 1,800 per day and have been laying men off a portion of each month.

"We spent about seven months and very nearly $75,000 in perfecting the NH carburetor and so far as the writer knows there are not complaints on workmanship. Our price has been from 11 to 30 cents per carburetor lower than Kingston and, to the best of our knowledge and belief, it is also lower than the cost of the Model G made at the Rowena Street plant. Our relations have been cordial and satisfactory in every way and we are at a loss to understand the reason for the action taken at Highland Park as it is absolutely unjust and only leads toward an organization that will permit such action to be taken."

There is an attached drawing showing the venturi designs for the NH and Model F. The NH has the "straight through" bore while the Model F has the venturi that dips in the middle ¾what we usually think of as the later NH. It is interesting that the Ford built carburetors had this feature earlier than the Holley.

The Holley letter was accompanied by a letter from F.H. Diehl the Ford Motor Company's purchasing agent. He stated that not only was Ford making Model F's, but that they were building Model G's as well. And they were buying Kingston's too. These documents suggest that Model T's came with four different carburetors from Sept. 1, 1920 to Aug., 1921: The Holley NH with the straight thru design, the Model F, the Model G and the Kingston.

(The above was discovered by Trent Boggess during a visit to the Ford Archives in February 1997.)



Engine production records, Ford Archives

"Began to center commutator counterbore with camshaft."



Engine production records, Ford Archives

"New style crankcase in all production."


OCT 10

Engine production records, Ford Archives

"Began brass rollers" (commutator). By October 13 they were using all brass rollers.


OCT 15

Acc. 78, Box 47-49, Ford Archives

Sample "new style" bodies shipped from Highland Park to branches, to be used as samples.


OCT 25

Engine production records, Ford Archives

"New commutator shield begun." (The center hole now had a lip.)


OCT 28

Acc. 1701. Model T Releases, Ford Archives

"Added slot for stop pin in bottom," referring to the steering gear box under the steering wheel. "Outside of cup to be machined and nickel plated."



Engine production records, Ford Archives

First engine with one-piece valve door. The older two-door engines continued until April 3, 1922.



Engine production records, Ford Archives

"Start copper plate rollers." (These are the copper-plated steel rollers.)


NOV 15

Engine production records, Ford Archives

Began using rolled-thread head bolts.


DEC 29

Acc. 78, Box 47-49, Ford Archives

Commutator brushes of bronze and steel being supplied. Aluminum type discontinued.