The Ford Model T is a machine that ranks as one of the most significant and important inventions of the 20th century. Henry Ford’s development of the moving assembly line was so significant that he is oft compared to the likes of Alexander Graham Bell and Eli Whitney as the most influential names in American Industrial history. The Model T is likely the only car to feature in our grade school history books. Of course, most of the focus in history is given to the way the Model T was built and how Henry Ford revolutionized mass manufacture. However, when viewed apart from the ingenious production methods, the Model T proved to be a truly remarkable and versatile machine.
Because he was able to build so many so quickly, the price was low and suddenly the automobile was accessible to millions who never dreamed of owning one before. Its popularity spawned an aftermarket industry that allowed the T to be adapted to virtually anything: From racing cars to farm implements, the Model T could do it all. Ford was enough in tune with his customer needs to offer a wide variety of bodies to meet demand. Touring cars and Depot Hacks moved people, while the Pickup and Commercial Roadster offered versatility for tradesmen. The Commercial Roadster was a simple, two seat affair with a flat deck behind the cockpit. Curiously, a “mother-in-law seat” was standard equipment; mounted atop a small storage trunk on the rear platform. The primary difference between a standard roadster and commercial roadster was the extended flat platform behind the cabin of the latter, rather than a curved trunk. The vestigial seat and trunk were often removed and discarded to make way for pickup boxes or any variety of attachments to suit the job at hand. As such, intact survivors are quite rare today.
This 1912 Model T Commercial Roadster is a relatively early example from the height of the brass era. The green and black paint scheme is correct for the year, as it predates Henry Ford’s shift to all-black Model Ts of later years. Unlike the majority of Model Ts which have been restored by hobbyists, this example wears a professional quality restoration and presents in absolutely lovely condition with excellent paint work, gorgeous quality brass and concours level detailing. Equipment includes brass Ford-script E&J headlamps and cowl lamps, a gorgeous brass radiator shell, polished brass horn and a beautiful acetylene tank on the running board. Brass step plates adorn the running boards, with a single right-side plate correctly placed for rear seat access.
The driver’s compartment is exquisitely detailed with beautifully executed black leather upholstery on the seat, a correct Ford-script rubber mat and beautifully finished wood on the cowl panel. The mother in law seat is trimmed in the same high quality black leather as up front, and it sits atop the small utility trunk that now houses an assortment of spares. Weather protection comes via the full, dual pane windscreen, which folds for fair weather use, and the folding black leather top. The top fit is excellent and it is well detailed with correct brass hardware. Pyramid-pattern floor boards adorn the rear platform as original and the impressive woodwork is indicative of the care and attention that went into the restoration. While a Model T engine is an exercise in minimalism, this example is nonetheless very well presented and detailed. It is exceptionally clean, showing little use since the restoration was completed, and the engine is detailed with appropriate fittings and hardware. Finishes on the chassis are also excellent, with the undercarriage appearing incredibly clean and tidy.
Along with its many other “firsts” the Model T can be credited with forming the foundation of the collector car hobby. With over 15 million built over the course of 19 years, there is certainly no shortage of cars to choose from. However, it is the early brass cars such as this that command attention from serious collectors. This example’s relatively rare configuration and outstanding restoration set it apart from the usual. It remains in lovely show-quality condition and is fully usable and ready for enjoyment.
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