Ford Model T — The Heritage Society (2023)

The Model T changed the way Americans lived, worked and traveled. Henry Ford’s revolutionary advancements in assembly-line automobile manufacturing made the Model T the first car to be affordable for a majority of Americans. In 1908, the Model T sold for $850 while competing cars often cost $2000-$3000. The Model T was offered in several body styles, including a five-seat touring car, a two-seat runabout, and a seven-seat town car. All bodies were mounted on a uniform 100-inch-wheelbase chassis. A choice of colors was originally available, but from 1913 to 1925 the car was mass-produced in only one color—black. By the 1920s the price had fallen to $300 as the assembly line technique became more efficient and produced a greater volume of cars.

The engine was simple and efficient, with all four cylinders cast in a single block and the cylinder head detachable for easy access and repair. The engine generated 20 horsepower and propelled the car to modest top speeds of 40–45 miles per hour (65–70 km/h). In most models, the engine was started by a hand crank, which activated a magneto connected to the flywheel, but after 1920 some models were equipped with battery-powered starters. The transmission, consisting of two forward gears and one reverse, was of the planetary type, controlled by foot pedals rather than the more common hand lever used in sliding-gear transmissions. Spark and throttle were controlled by a hand lever on the steering column. The 10-gallon fuel tank was located under the front seat – or mounted on the back. Because gasoline was fed to the engine only by gravity, and also because the reverse gear offered more power than the forward gears, the Model T frequently had to be driven up a steep hill backward.

Automobiles arrived in Houston early in the 20th century and quickly grew in popularity. The number increased from just over 1,000 cars in Harris County in 1911 to almost 100,000 by 1930. Prior to the automobile, the streetcar system was the preferred mode of transportation around the city. The effect of the automobile on Houston’s landscape was profound. Along with cars came the need for new and better roads, parking, car dealerships, gas stations, mechanic shops, and even new laws to regulate traffic. In fact, the first local speeding ticket was given to T. Brady in 1903 for exceeding the 6 mph limit on Main Street.

This Ford Model T is on view in the Museum Gallery.


Houstonians fill up and service their cars at this corner Texaco station. In the late 1930s, Texaco commissioned industrial designer Walter Teague to develop a modern service station. The resulting "Teague" Texaco design was a functional white building with green trimmings featuring one or more service bays for “Washing” and “Lubrication,” an office area with large windows for displaying tires, batteries and accessories, and restrooms featuring Texaco-green tile walls and floors. The Teague station design was typically built of white porcelain tile, but local and regional variations could include painted brick, concrete brick and stucco materials.

Uniformed Texaco service station attendant. In 1940, gas cost about $.18 per gallon and the attendant was ready and willing to attend to the customer’s needs. The company offices for Texaco, or the Texas Company as it was called then, were located in downtown Houston at the corner of San Jacinto and Rusk.


How much is a Model T worth today? ›

Ford Model T (1909 to 1927)
Costilla County, CO, USA 1915 Ford Model T Touring TMU Manual LHD TMU · Manual · LHD · Restored-Original Costilla County, CO, USAFOR SALE $29,000
Plainfield, IN, USA 1926 Ford Model T TMU Manual LHD TMU · Manual · LHD · Restored-Original Plainfield, IN, USAFOR SALE $14,400
23 more rows

Why did the Ford Model T so profoundly change American society? ›

The Model T put America on wheels, created mass mobility, revolutionized mass production, established the American middle class and eventually reshaped the country's physical landscape with suburban sprawl. Over a two-decade run more than 15 million were built, more than any other car in history except for the Beetle.

What was the nickname given to the Ford Model T? ›

The vehicle also became famous for its unique nickname—Tin Lizzie. There are various accounts of how this nickname was acquired by the Model T. Possible origins include the popularity of the female name “Lizzie” during that period to a famous Model T racecar named Old Liz.

How many miles per gallon does a Model T get? ›

1908: Henry Ford introduces the Model T. The gasoline-powered car enjoys up to 21 miles per gallon (just six m.p.g. fewer than the average new vehicle sold today).

How fast could a Model T go? ›

The engine was simple and efficient, with all four cylinders cast in a single block and the cylinder head detachable for easy access and repair. The engine generated 20 horsepower and propelled the car to modest top speeds of 40–45 miles per hour (65–70 km/h).

What was the cheapest the Model T sold for? ›

The Model T was the first mass-produced car that was affordable enough for a wide audience. In 1909 a new Model T cost $850, but by 1924 the price had gone down to only $260. The average assembly line worker could purchase one with four months' pay in 1914.

How many Model TS are still running? ›

“There were so many of them built — 15 million,” Anderson said. “There are still probably 10,000 to 15,000 on the road. People know 'Tin Lizzie' as an old car, even if they don't know it refers to the Model T. It shows up in literature, film and song.

Does the Model T have a gas pedal? ›

The Model T has no accelerator on the floor, instead the engine speed is controlled by this hand throttle. As you move it down, the engine goes faster and faster.

How much did a Model T cost in 1908? ›

When the Ford Model T was introduced in 1908, it cost about $950 (nominal dollars), with only 10,000 units produced. By 1924, 2 million units were produced at the cost of $300 each, making it one of the most mass-produced cars in history, with a total of 16.5 million units.

How many miles did a Model T last? ›

By the mid twenties new cars were quite reliable but their life was short - 5 to 7 years, and well under 100,000 miles with a motor overhaul required every 20,000 or 30,000 miles.

How long did a Model T engine last? ›

Certainly, my experience when I was running an original engine with all original parts was that this is a believable figure. The life expectancy of the whole car (i.e. time to scrap it),was given as 100,000 miles. This was in a time where a set of tyres was only meant to last 2000 miles.

What does the T stand for in Model T car? ›

Henry called it Model T at my request. T stands for Tim. He was going to call it Model A, but I got him to postpone the decision for a few years.

How big was the gas tank on a Model T Ford? ›

During most of the T's production run, its 10 US gal (38 l; 8 imp gal) fuel tank was mounted to the frame beneath the front seat. Because Ford relied on gravity to feed fuel to the carburetor rather than a fuel pump, a Model T could not climb a steep hill when the fuel level was low.

What was the best year for the Model T? ›

1923 was the Model T's best year and is still today the highest annual production figure ever achieved by a single model with 2,011,125 units produced in a single year!

What was the top speed of the 1926 Ford Model T? ›

The Model T had a front-mounted 177-cubic-inch (2.9 L) inline four-cylinder engine, producing 20 hp (15 kW), for a top speed of 40–45 mph (64–72 km/h). The engine was capable of running on gasoline, kerosene, or ethanol. Its transmission was a planetary gear type billed as "three speed".

How many gears did a Model T have? ›

The transmission, consisting of two forward gears and one reverse, was of the planetary type, controlled by three foot pedals and a lever rather than the more common hand lever used in sliding-gear transmissions. Spark and throttle were controlled by a hand lever on the steering column.

What car beat the Model T? ›

On February 17, 1972, the 15,007,034th Volkswagen Beetle comes off the assembly line, breaking a world car production record held for more than four decades by the Ford Motor Company's iconic Model T, which was in production from 1908 to 1927.

Is a Model T hard to drive? ›

A pre-1919 Model T is even more difficult to drive due to its lack of an electric starter, and the process of turning the crank to start the engine by hand might just snap your forearm like a dried-out branch if the engine backfires.

Did Model T have brakes? ›

While the Model T has a pair of drum brakes on the rear axle, the brake pedal itself doesn't interact with these at all. Instead, it actuates a band which squeezes down on the rotating parts within the transmission to slow the car down.

What size tires are on a Model T? ›

Tires were pneumatic clincher type, 30 in (762 mm) in diameter, 3.5 in (89 mm) wide in the rear, 3 in (76 mm) in the front.

How much did a Model T cost in 1923? ›

The Ford Model T was produced with nine different body styles on top of the same chassis. The four-door sedan was most likely the most expensive model, ranging between $725 (1923) and $545 (1927).

Why was the Model T called Tin Lizzie? ›

Origins of 'Tin Lizzie'

Another claim says that during a 1922 race at Pikes Peak, Colorado, participant Noel Bullock named his Model T “Old Liz,” but its unkempt state made people compare it to a tin can, earning it the “Tin Lizzie” moniker. Unexpectedly, Bullock's car won and the nickname stuck to all Model Ts.

Did Model TS have a clutch? ›

The car could thus cruise without the driver having to press any of the pedals. There was no separate clutch pedal. When the car was in neutral, the middle pedal was used to engage reverse gear, and the right pedal operated the transmission brake – there were no separate brakes on the wheels.

Did Model T ever have electric start? ›

While various car companies had experimented with electric starters for gasoline-powered cars, Cadillac was first with a really workable solution in 1912. The Henry Ford Museum's 1914 Model T was retrofitted with an electric starter for convenience, but it can still be cranked up the old fashioned way.

Can you push start a Model T? ›

None of the 1 versions of Ford Model T has a push-button start feature.

What is the rpm of the Model T engine? ›

Tech Specs. L-head four-cylinder in-line engine, 176.7 cubic inches, 22 hp at 1600 rpm.

What reliable steel was used to build the Model T? ›

Vanadium Steel.

As part of the preproduction process for the Model T, Ford imported an expert who helped him build a steel mill. As a result, the only cars in the world to utilize vanadium steel in the next five years would be French luxury cars and the Model T.

What car costs $3 million dollars? ›

28. Koenigsegg Jesko: $3 million. The Jesko is our first hypercar that hits the three million dollar mark. From a performance aspect, this makes sense: the Koenigsegg Jesko is also one of the fastest supercars in the world in 2023 – which definitely goes a long way towards its sticker price.

How much did Ford pay his workers? ›

In January 1914, Henry Ford started paying his auto workers a remarkable $5 a day. Doubling the average wage helped ensure a stable workforce and likely boosted sales since the workers could now afford to buy the cars they were making. It laid the foundation for an economy driven by consumer demand.

What is the simplest engine ever made? ›

WAISSI Engine - Simplest Internal Combustion Engine.

What were the problems with the Ford Model T? ›

The Model T was released in 1908. That summer, 31 people were killed in auto accidents in Detroit alone. The cars were a fire hazard, as gas tanks were located underneath the seats, and their flat glass windshields were known to severely cut anyone ejected from the car in a crash.

What fuel did the Model T use? ›

There's a myth about the original Ford Model T engines being designed to run on multiple different fuels. Even though the engine had low compression and would probably run on moonshine or strong whiskey, it was indeed designed to run on gasoline using a gravity fed fuel system seen in the diagram below.

What oil does a Model T use? ›

In areas with average temperature between 40 and 110 degrees F you will want to use 5W-30. Operating a Model T in winter weather, with temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees F you will want to use 0W-20. How often should the oil be changed in a Model T Ford?

What engine did the fastest Model T have? ›

It was at the ECTA's former Ohio Mile in Wilmington where Mike and his co-driver, Justin Brand, knocked through the 200 mph barrier to claim the World's Fastest Model T. Mike had churned a 202.7, and at the final Ohio Mile event, Justin walked up to his 205.9 mph record, before melting the top of piston four.

Did the Model T have a gear shift? ›

The transmission consisted of two foot gears and one reverse. The Model T was also very loud, and had to be driven up hills backwards because the reverse gear was much more powerful than forward gears. Also, gravity was the only way gas got to the engine.

What was the top speed of a 1922 Ford Model T? ›

The Ford Model T was powered by an inline 4-cylinder engine that produced 20-hp. With its three-speed transmission, The Model T was able to hit a top speed of 42 mph.

Which is better a Model A or T? ›

Engine – The Ford Model T was equipped with a 177 cubic inch four-cylinder engine with 20 horsepower, with a top speed around 45 mph. The Ford Model A was equipped with a similar flat head four-cylinder engine, this one with 201 cubic inch displacement and twice the power at 40 hp and a top speed of 65 mph.

How many miles per gallon does a 1912 Model T get? ›

For what it's worth, Model T's didn't get 25 miles per gallon, Ford responded. They got 13 to 21 miles per gallon.

Did the Model T run on ethanol? ›

It is alleged that the earliest models of the Ford Model T were built to run on gasoline and kerosene as well as ethanol: but neither option was considered the premium or preferable fuel source due to cost.

Why do old Fords have two gas tanks? ›

Two gas tanks mean continuous power, and that engines could function better under load. Typically these systems are found in old Ford F-250 and Ford F-350 models.

How much would a Model T be worth? ›

Model T vehicles produced later had the more common three-pedal, three-lever control system which, depending on the quality of its restoration, can range in price from $11,550 to $66,000.

What is the fastest Model T ever? ›

The top speed of the Model T was 42 mph (68 km/h), which was adequate for the time but far removed from what the fastest cars of that period were capable of.

What was the fastest Ford in the 60s? ›

Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet - 1969.

How much did a Ford Model T cost in 1920? ›

When production of the Model T began, the cost was around $850, around $1200 less than most cars. By the early 1920's, the price of the Model T cost about $300.

What is the oldest known Model T Ford? ›

Summary. This is the Ford Motor Company record of the very first Model T which was assembled on September 27, 1908 at the Piquette plant in Detroit. The production card lists it as Model 2090, car #1. It had 4 cylinders, 2 levers (the second for reverse) and 2 foot pedals.

How many Ford Model T's are left? ›

Ninety years after this last car headed out onto the open road, it's estimated that some 60,000 Ford Model Ts still survive today. Incredibly, 50,000 of these are in road-going condition.

How much is a 1917 Model T worth? ›

**Figure based on a stock 1917 Ford Model T valued at $10,900 with ON rates with $100/300K liability/UM/UIM limits. Actual costs vary depending on the coverage selected, vehicle condition, province and other factors.

How much is a 1925 Model T Ford worth? ›

The average 1925 Ford Model T costs about $19,835.03.

What car sold $1 million in 1965? ›

1965 was the year of millionaires: that year the Chevrolet Impala sold 1,074,925 units in the US alone, still to this date the highest annual sales volume ever achieved by a single model in the US since World War 2.

What car just sold for $140 million? ›

STUTTGART, Germany - A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, one of only two on Earth, has sold for a record $143 million, making it the most expensive car in the world.

What car just sold for $20 million dollars? ›

The highest price ever paid at public auction for a car is $143 million for a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé sold by RM Sotheby's for the Mercedes-Benz Museum in 2022.
$20 Million Plus Cars.
$20 million +Ferrari 410 Sport Spider
Price $22,005,000
Auction HouseRM Sotheby's
Auction Date2022
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Nov 9, 2022

Did the Model T have a heater? ›

Another difference between the Model T and vehicles today is that there was no radio and no heat in the original Model T. Drivers and passengers had to bundle up, and some even used gas burners. The in-vehicle heater was invented in 1917, but heat wasn't a standard feature in vehicles until much later.

What were the 2 nicknames for the Model T car? ›

The Model T was colloquially known as the "Tin Lizzie", "Leaping Lena" or "flivver". United States: Detroit, Michigan. Highland Park, Michigan.

What is the oldest car ever? ›

The oldest functioning car is La Marquise, a steam-powered, four-wheeled, four-seater vehicle, manufactured by De Dion Bouton et Trépardoux (France) in 1884; three years later it won the world's first automobile race, powering along the 30.5-km (19-mile) track at an average of 42 km/h (26 mph) from Paris to Neuilly, ...

What was the best year for Model T? ›

1923 was the Model T's best year and is still today the highest annual production figure ever achieved by a single model with 2,011,125 units produced in a single year!

How many miles was a Model T good for? ›

Now we expect 200k miles on a car, 60 years ago 100k (most odometers didnt even go into the 100,000's). Model T's perhaps 30-50K, pre T probably 10-20K for a reasonable life expectancy.

How many miles per gallon did a 1925 Model T get? ›

For what it's worth, Model T's didn't get 25 miles per gallon, Ford responded. They got 13 to 21 miles per gallon.

What was the mpg on a 1925 Ford Model T? ›

According to Ford Motor Company, the Model T had fuel economy on the order of 13–21 mpgUS (16–25 mpgimp; 18–11 L/100 km).

How fast could Ford make a Model T in the 1920s? ›

It could go as fast as 40 miles per hour and could run on gasoline or hemp-based fuel. (When oil prices dropped in the early 20th century, making gasoline more affordable, Ford phased out the hemp option.) “No car under $2,000 offers more,” ads crowed, “and no car over $2,000 offers more except the trimmings.”

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