DEFINING THE MODEL T FORD
It is doubtful that a complete and accurate study of the changes in the Model T Ford over its nineteen-year production will ever be achieved. Over the past thirty-some-odd years, three major publications have been produced, each one more detailed than the previous, but the complete story has yet to be told. The information on this site is considerably more detailed than any of the previous books, yet this, too, is obsolete for much is yet to be uncovered.
Beginning in 1997 Trent Boggess, a professor at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, has spent many weeks at the Ford Archives in Dearborn, Michigan, and he was able to find previously unpublished documentation on some of the many modifications in the Model T over the years. The surface has just been scratched but thanks to Trent's efforts, much has been learned and much of this learning is presented here.
A word of caution, though. Where dates of changes are shown, these dates are those of the change in the drawings, NOT necessarily (or even likely) the dates on which the changes occurred in production. There are cases where a change in the drawing was superseded by another change before the first change was ever made in the part. These dates, therefore, should only be used as a guide for an approximate time of an alteration.
No one can take credit for the entire content presented here. We all learn from the experience of others who will share what they have learned. We are indebted to many people but in particular to a few dedicated individuals who share our interest in the details. In particular we want to express our appreciation to Kim Dobbins, Larry Smith, and John Regan.
Kim Dobbins is the expert on the very early Model T Fords. Someone once said that Kim considered a mid-year 1909 Ford to be a late model. He lives in the Los Angeles area.
Larry Smith is almost a neighbor of Kim's, also from the Los Angeles area. His expertise is in the 1913 and 1925 models in particular, but in all T's in general. He has shared his know-how with us for many, many years.
John Regan is from St. Charles, Illinois. John is the inventor of the solid-state voltage regulator/cutout unit for the Model T generator (as well as for other cars) as well as a number of other parts for the Model T. John has restored earlier Fords, particularly from the 1911-12 era. He has also spent time at the Archives and has also shared his findings with us.
Bruce McCalley is one of the six founders of the Model T Ford Club of America and was editor of The Vintage Ford magazine for the first twenty-five years. He was co-author of the book From Here of Obscurity and the author of The Model T Encyclopedia and Model T Ford, the Car that Changed the World as well as this web encyclopedia and an even more detailed Encyclopedia on a CD.
There are a good many others who have contributed as well. Our thanks and appreciation to all of those who have made this latest effort possible.
The information presented here should not be considered the last word on the subject. Just as the previous books have superseded each other, this too is destined for obsolescence. It is also extremely important to remember that all Fords of a given year were not exactly the same. Modifications were made at the factory at Highland Park that were not necessarily made on cars assembled at the branches, and vise-versa. Even cars made at the same plant could (and did) vary from one to the next. Variations in the design of various components of the car, due to the varying suppliers of some of the parts, must also be considered. Keep in mind a comment made by a restorer some years ago: How can we restore these things correctly when Ford never made them correctly?
There are few hard and fast rules when it comes to the Model T Ford. Perhaps this is why their evolution is so interesting.