life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage

42 Model Ts Cross the U.S. to Partake in U.S. Ford 100th Anniversary

The Car that Spawned American Auto Culture Comes Home

By Elaine Weeks

Click here to view our Ford 100 photo gallery.

Front end of 1915 Model T
touring car

On Thursday, June 12, TIMES publisher Chris Edwards and I journeyed to Dearborn, Michigan to investigate the first day of the 4-day birthday bash being thrown by the Ford Motor Company of America. We had long looked forward to this event due to its historic significance and because of the tremendous hype it had been getting in the media.

The rain, which had been tormenting the denizens of the Windsor/Detroit area for much of June, had not relented and apparently managed to keep away much of the media (we had read 7000 were coming). It did not daunt the drivers of 42 original Model Ts however, who had driven across the United States to participate in the celebration and were arriving that very day.

Ford founder Henry created the Model T in 1908 and considered it the perfect car. More than 15 million were produced between 1908 and 1927. The Model T came as a touring model or a roadster in four-door and two-door; as a convertible, a pick-up truck, a limousine, flatbed, panel truck and even a tow truck. Henry was so stubborn about updating the styling and performance of his Model T that the company nearly went bankrupt. When he finally gave in and the Model A was introduced in 1927, it was a major hit and the company recovered.

We discovered the Model Ts neatly parked in a lot directly in front of the Ford Headquarters building. As we began our inspection of these remarkably preserved, yet fragile looking examples of early automotive genius, we spotted a pair of older gentlemen, hastily snapping the side covers onto their quaint car. They were both wearing long off-white coats; either they were mad scientists or hard-core old car buffs.

We quickly ascertained that they were of the car buff variety and had just pulled in from their two cross-country odyssey in their 1915 Model T touring car at 11 that morning. Their names were Wayne Earnest and Carl Hansen and along with their wives, had begun their journey in their hometown of Salinas, California.

I asked about the coats. “They’re “dusters,” Wayne explained. “This is what men wore during the days that cars were mostly open to the elements.” His wife had made his but Carl’s duster was the real thing and dated back to the 1920s. Carl and his wife own a car museum in Salinas full of old cars and related memorabilia and paraphernalia.

Their trip was fairly smooth sailing although they did have a couple of mechanical mishaps during their 14-day cross-country odyssey, (accomplished by taking the back roads), including having to replace some caskets as well as one of the tires. According to Wayne, “The rims on these narrow tires tend to cut into the rubber causing the tube to pop out. Fortunately, it only happened once!”

A little further down the line, we discovered a happy cluster of people in colourful early 20th Century garb celebrating their own successful journey to Dearborn. Toasting their achievement with champagne, they seemed oblivious to the rain and wind. Obviously, their accomplishment was sufficient excuse to ignore the inclement weather. No doubt they were marveling over the fact that not only had they come thousands of kilometers, they had managed to do it in vehicles that were at least 80 or 90 years old.

Who says time travel isn’t possible?

Model Ts in Windsor

Many of these drivers and their Model Ts will be in Windsor on Tuesday, June 17 and Wednesday, June 18. Tuesday they will be at the Ford Test Track at 2:30 and on Erie Street from 6 pm to 8 pm. Then they will travel into the county and will be on display at the Heritage Village & Transportation Museum at 6155 Arner Townline near Kingsville.

Come on out and experience a blast from the past!

Click here to view our Ford 100 photo gallery.

Click here to go back to The TIMES home page.


Community Forum

©1999-2006— Walkerville Publishing — All Rights Reserved