For nearly as long as the automobile has existed, owners have been tinkering with them to extract more speed, better handling and reliability. Prior to the advent of mass production, automobiles were generally a luxury item and any customizing was done on a bespoke basis. However, once Ford’s ubiquitous Model T hit the scene, suddenly the market was flooded with affordable automobiles that could be tweaked, modified and adapted to just about any imaginable job. As the Model T’s popularity grew, so did the aftermarket that supplied tools and parts to service it. Fords were converted for use as farm implements, work trucks, saw mills, delivery vans and inevitably, racing cars. Pioneering petrol heads found numerous ways to extract more power, better handling and usability from the omnipresent T. Decades before Colin Chapman “added lightness” to his Austin 7 to make the first Lotus, Model T owners were shedding weight by tossing away heavy factory steel fenders and bodywork and replacing them with lightweight and simplified speedster bodies. As the T evolved, so did the concept of the speedster. Early examples were simply cut down roadsters, while later examples got custom bodies designed to cheat the air and ditch the pounds. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, the Roose Manufacturing Company offered a wide variety of accessories designed to make live with a Model T a bit easier. Their main product offerings were practical items such as insulated hood covers, weather proof coil box covers and convertible tops. However, they did offer a handful of rakish speedster bodies named “Speed King”. In addition to modified bodies, performance improvements could be made to a T with thanks to a burgeoning speed equipment industry. The leaders in the market were none other than the Chevrolet Brothers (Louis and Arthur) who’s highly advanced Frontenac overhead valve cylinder head had proven itself in the “Fronty-Ford” by finishing in 5th place in the 1923 Indianapolis 500 mile race at an official average of 82.58 MPH; a remarkable achievement in the face of much larger and more powerful competition. This fascinating little 1918 Ford Model T is a wonderful period piece, wearing a Roose Mfg Co. Speed King body and accessorized with an array of period speed parts. The all-steel body is very rare and quite interesting, with an unusual custom grille shell up front, sweeping back to a close-coupled cockpit and a sharply tapered tail. The body is in solid, sound condition with heavily patinated white paintwork contributing to the fabulous character. The red chassis and black radiator combine for a wonderfully racy look. The cockpit is spartan, with just enough room for a driver and ride-along mechanic. This T does have some go to match the show, with a Frontenac cylinder head greatly improving breathing, and an add-on water pump fitted to help keep things cool at the higher engine speeds allowed by the overhead valve setup. The engine appears in good order, tidy and clean needing little to bring up to full song. We are quite fond of this unusual and charming Model T speedster. It offers real rarity thanks to its period speed equipment and high quality steel body, and it presents with a certain charming honesty that encourages enthusiastic use, whether around the block or around a vintage race paddock. It is sound and complete, and we could even see it prepared for vintage rallies – so long as the crew doesn’t mind the weather! Whatever the use, this is a fascinating piece of early American motor sports history that is sure to charm its next keeper.
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.
This very rare French four door Model T was built in 1923. On arrival of the chassis in France, Paris coach builder Henry Binder built this four door Torpedo body. The first owner was Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Bordeaux. We sold this wonderful motor car to its last owner in 2009, a pre-war enthusiast based in Stoke on Trent. Prior to delivering the Ford to him six years ago, our workshop stripped and rebuilt the engine. A photo record of the work is with the vehicle's history file. Over the past six years the car has been treated as a museum piece on only driven on a handful of occasions. It was transported back to us in 2011 for a full service and MOT and further work to include re-conditioning the speedo drive and stripping and setting the carburettor. Since the engine rebuild just a few miles have been completed and as a result the unit is in excellent order. In 2009 we imported the Model T from Germany. It had been with the same owner since 1975, a Graf of Germany, similar to an Earl. His family are collectors of historic motoring, antiques and general history. On original purchase in 1975, the family had the Model T restored and have kept a comprehensive history since. Th