For 1911, Ford restyled the Model T, giving it a new radiator, fenders, and wheels. The body construction now consisted of steel over wooden framework, as opposed to more extensive use of wood in prior years. Whereas cars were previously offered in red, grey, or green, for 1911 dark blue was selected as a standard color – as the black-only Model T was still some years away. Some body styles, like the coupe were phased out, but two new ones were offered, the torpedo runabout and the open runabout. These two differed from the others by having curved fenders, a longer hood, lower seating, and a round 16-gallon fuel tank on the rear deck. The torpedo runabout had doors, while the open runabout did not. The late Les Henry, a renowned Model T historian, wrote that these runabouts “had undoubtedly the best performance and greatest speed of all Model T Fords ever produced.”
Mechanical changes included a new rear axle with cast-iron center housing and the front axle received new spindles. Most prominent was a mid-year change to the engine. Replacing the earlier exposed valves were new valve chambers cast into the block with steel doors, to enable adjustments when needed. For 1912, Ford continued to refine his formula and the sporting Torpedo returned, but the Open Runabout did not. The hood reverted to the standard size as it shared its bodywork from the firewall forward with the rest of the Model T line. The Torpedo remained a very sporting and attractive model, though it did not sell in very large numbers in its day. That fact, coupled with the sporty bodywork and brisk performance makes the Torpedo one of the most sought-after of all Model T body styles.
This handsome 1912 Model T Torpedo is a fine example of this highly desirable model. It is finished in the lovely shade of dark blue over black fenders which is factory correct for 1912 (the all-black lineup was not implemented until 1914), and it rides on a set of rare and desirable Houk wire wheels finished in yellow, and features sought-after Rocky Mountain brakes. Solid white tires are fitted to the wheels, and the extensive brass on the radiator, wheel caps, lamps, and windshield frame is polished to a beautiful luster. The simple cabin is upholstered in black leather and a black vinyl top is in very good condition. A quality restoration was completed some time ago but it remains in very tidy overall condition and it has recently received a thorough mechanical refurbishment to ensure it is ready for the road. It is largely standard, but it has been updated with electric starting, which adds a tremendous amount of practicality and usability.
The charming color combination and the delicate wire wheels give this T a delightfully fun and sporty look. Particularly for those who may be more accustomed to the archetypal sober black Model T, this is a surprisingly bright and cheerful motorcar. Further enhancing the charm is a large and enthusiastic community which still supports the Model T with excellent parts and technical resources, making this one of the most usable and affordable cars of the era. Many Model Ts are still used regularly on tours and rallies, and anyone who has experienced one from behind the wheel can attest to the joy they bring. This Torpedo is not only desirable among Model T enthusiasts, but is also recognized by general brass-era collectors for its style, rarity and enthusiastic performance.
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