Tag Archives: Ford Model T

Model T Museum in Richmond

Show season at the Model T Museum in Richmond, Indiana, opened on Saturday, May 17, with the 2014 Show & Tell – Swap & Sell event. Ford Model T enthusiasts from around the Midwest gathered at the museum to swap stories and stuff centered on their favorite automobile.

inside display

inside display

Copyright © 2014 Dennis E. Horvath

In addition to the normal collection items, inside the museum volunteers shared items, movies and stories. One vendor presented Model T era Ford tools and other items. Another displayed a collection of early Ford ephemera and car-related Laurel and Hardy movies. Another displayed the single-overhead cam, 16-valve performance cylinder heads that Robert M. Roof developed for Model T’s in 1916.

Roof cylinder head

Roof cylinder head

Copyright © 2014 Dennis E. Horvath

Guy Mager and I were there announcing the Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant Centennial scheduled for October 18, 2014. Most of the folks we talked to were unaware that Ford produced over 581,000 Model T’s and A’s in this assembly plant from 1914 to 1932. We enjoyed sharing our photos from the Ford Motor Company archives showing the plant in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Mark October 18 on your calendar.

Swap & Sell items and a full range of Model T’s filled in the surrounding areas adjacent to the museum. A particularly striking, medium-blue 1913 runabout displayed a custom designed tool box. Another 1913 touring car was parked next to a 50 year newer-sibling Falcon convertible. A 1914 touring was all decked with the necessary camping paraphernalia for a trip across the desert.

1913 Model T

1913 Model T

Copyright © 2014 Dennis E. Horvath

This was the first year for the combined Show & Tell – Swap & Sell event. I offer a “Well Done” to the staff and volunteers at the Model T Museum in Richmond. Model T aficionados should check out this event next year.

Indiana’s Historic National Road Part 1

This post marks the beginning of my series on Indiana’s Historic National Road.

Construction of Indiana’s section of the National Road from Richmond to West Terre Haute took place between 1827 and 1835. The road survives earlier competition from railroads, interurbans, and the interstate system. More than 185 years later, Indiana’s Historic National Road serves as a National Scenic Byway where you can kick-back and reminisce about travel in earlier times.

In this installment, we’ll discuss National Road attractions in Richmond Indiana. Begin your trip where the National Road (U.S. 40) enters Indiana on Richmond’s east side (I-70 Exit 156). The Old National Road Welcome Center is left (south) on Industrial Parkway just after the railroad overpass. The center has a plethora of information on the East, Central, and West Indiana Regions of the Road as well as other points of interest. Be sure to check out all of the National Road items in the gift shop.

Continue west to the Madonna of the Trail monument at the west entrance of Glenn Miller Park at 22nd and Main. The 18-foot statue dedicated in 1928 by then judge Harry S. Truman was commissioned and erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution as a tribute to the early pioneers who trekked westward. There are also four similar statues along the National Road.

At the NW corner of 17th and Main is the Miller Milkhouse, a drive-through market. (Another Miller’s location is a side trip just west of downtown: North off U.S. 40 at the corner of NW 3rd Street and Main.)

Where U.S. 40 jogs right (north), continue on North A Street. On route is the Wayne County Historical Museum at 1150 North A Street, which has a collection of seven of the 14 automotive makes built in Richmond. One of the most interesting is the original condition 1907 Richmond Model J1 Merry Widow Runabout. Another is the 1939 Crosley Convertible and other Crosley Corporation items.

1939 Crosley

1939 Crosley Convertible
and other Crosley Corporation items
Copyright ©2012 Dennis E. Horvath
After leaving the museum, go left (south) on 11th Street to Main Street and turn right (west) for the original National Road. This two-lane strip of retail shops has many original buildings. For an automotive side trip at 9th Street, turn right (north) and go two blocks to Elm Place and turn left (west), go one block to 8th Street and turn left (south). Go one block (south) to visit the Model T Ford Museum at 309 North 8th Street.

The Model T Ford Museum showcases the car that “put the world on wheels.” One car currently on display is a 1908 touring car believed to be the earliest Model T in existence. One of the museum’s most popular vehicles is a 1924 Model T Army ambulance. This car is in high demand for local parade duty. The museum’s gift shop contains many unique Model T items. Before leaving the area, check out Historic Depot District for many interesting shops and restaurants. I recommend eating at Fire House BBQ and Blues at 300 North 8th Street.

1924 Model T Ambulance

1924 Model T Ambulance
Copyright ©2012 Dennis E. Horvath

Continue your trip one block south to Main Street and then turn right (west). West of the Wayne County Courthouse turn left (south) onto 3rd Street to pick up U.S. 40 again. Approximately 4.5 miles from the Wayne County Courthouse on the north side of the road is a historic stone mile marker, showing nine miles to the state line, four and one-half miles to Richmond, and one mile to Centerville.

This ends this installment of Indiana’s Historic National Road. Check back for further installments detailing experiences along Indiana’s section of the Nation’s first federally funded highway.

Links to other parts of Indiana’s Historic National Road

Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant

Every day travelers along the National Road pass the former Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant at 1315 East Washington Street. To meet America’s insatiable demand and to reduce shipping costs for finished Model T’s, the company built more than 24 assembly plants at key locations around the country.

Ford Indianapolis Assembly Branch

Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Assembly Branch
Copyright © 1936 Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company opened its four-story assembly branch (known as Plant 215) in the fall of 1914. Production of Ford cars and trucks continued unabated for nearly two decades, except for a period during World War I and model changeovers.

In May 1924, the new Car Delivery Unit was erected at the rear of the site fronting on Southeastern Avenue. The plant layout was expanded twice in the mid-1920′s to allow more space for assembly operations. These expansions increased the plant’s capacity to 300 assembled cars per day. With this capacity, the Indianapolis assembly branch had the highest output of any Indiana auto manufacturing site in its era.

Ford Indianapolis Body Drop

Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Assembly Plant Body Drop
Copyright © 1926 Ford Motor Company
Ford body assembly and finishing operations commenced at this plant in 1929. The Great Depression, however, also took its toll on Ford. As a result, Ford discontinued production operations in December 1932. Limited operations resumed at the site as a Ford parts service and automotive sales branch in July 1934. The plant operated on this basis into the 1940′s.

The Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant operated during Indianapolis’ heyday of automotive manufacturing in the first part of the Twentieth Century. The next time you drive by this location, you’ll know the rest of the story.

Jimmy Clark in a sprint car?

The other day, while perusing my collection of mid-1960s Indianapolis 500 Mile Race press kits, I found this photo of Jimmy Clark sitting in a Ford Model T sprint car. Let me tell you the story behind this photo.

Jimmy Clark in Ford Model T Sprint Car

Jimmy Clark in Ford Model T Sprint Car
Copyright © 1965 Ford Motor Company

In 1965, Ford Motor Company entered two Lotus powered by Ford specials in the Indianapolis 500. In the process of developing these racers, the company developed the 495 horsepower Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine available for use by the entire racing fraternity.

The 1965 Ford Motor Company press kit explaining their entries included this photograph showing the old and new look at Indianapolis. A Lotus-Ford is in the foreground with Jimmy Clark trying out the cockpit of the vintage sprint car in the background. What a contrast between 48 years of technological development, front-engine versus rear-engine, four-cylinder versus eight-cylinder, and valve-in-head versus double-overhead-cam!

In 1963, Clark won “Rookie of the Year” honors for placing second in a Ford-powered Lotus entry. Clark earned the coveted pole position with a speed of 158.828 mph in 1964 in another Lotus-Ford. Unfortunately he dropped out of the race after 47 laps with mechanical failure.

The third time would be the charm for Jim Clark driving the Lotus powered by Ford entry to first place in 1965 Indianapolis 500. A second Lotus-Ford driven by Bobby Johns finished seventh. The Ford double-overhead-cam V-8 racing engine powered a number of other entries in this race.

So, that’s the story of Jimmy Clark sitting in a sprint car. I often wondered how would Jimmy Clark do driving around a ½ mile dirt track in a 1960s era sprint car? I guess that’s a discussion for another day.

Join a car club

Joining a car club is a great way to share your autocentric enthusiasm and meet others with similar interests. Car clubs range from groups of local interest to those with a national affiliation.

    Some of the advantages of joining a car club can include:

  • Assistance in finding your dream car.
  • Help in trouble shooting problems and restoring your car.
  • Visits to areas of interest automotive or otherwise.
  • Opportunities to show your car.
  • Events that share our automotive heritage.
  • Meeting people who are interested in automobiles.

A recent gathering of the White River Valley Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America combined many of these features. To start the day, we gathered at one member’s house to swap stories of our latest car project and then set-off on a tour of buildings of architectural interest in Columbus, Indiana. We had lunch at Zaharakos, a 110-year old marble soda fountain. Oh, what a treat! Then, we continued our architectural tour. After the tour we visited another member’s auto collection. Some of the folks assisted in trouble shooting a starting problem on a 1923 Ford Model T. More stories were shared over refreshments and home-baked cookies. Everyone enjoyed a great time centering on our auto interests.

Another example is the Celebration of Automobiles at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway coordinated by members of the Indiana Region of the Classic Car Club of America, the Marmon Club, the Stutz Club in addition to the Speedway staff. All of their efforts culminated in celebrating 100 years of vehicular transportation and competition in the Indianapolis 500. This event featured collectible cars built between 1911 and 1961 from around the world. Interesting cars from this era ranged from a 1911 Marmon to a 1961 Plymouth Fury in addition to vintage race cars. Young auto enthusiasts got a chance to sit behind the wheel of some cars and imagine going around the track. Adult aficionados were able to share stories with exhibitors and Indy 500 veterans. This once-in-lifetime event was facilitated by car club members.

So, if you want to get out and enjoy celebrating car culture, you can also expand your network by participating in a car club.

My First ride in an old car

Keeping up with a theme of “My First,” I would like to share the story of my first ride in an old car. In the late 1950’s, old car is what it was called before other terms of auto endearment became popular. Car clubs and antique car shows were just in their infancy.

In that era, my family always visited our relatives during a two-week summer vacation in late August. While visiting my maternal grandparents in Lansing, Michigan, I discovered my Uncle Dick working on an early 1920’s Ford Model T coupe. This was a new experience for me because my father always drove contemporary cars. I had never seen anyone working on an old car.

The high stance of his Model T coupe was a stark contrast to our 1957 Chevrolet sedan. The small four-cylinder engine was another difference compared with our 283 V-8 engine. I was thoroughly intrigued about learning more.

My uncle allowed me to sit behind the steering wheel, if I promised not to touch any controls. When he finished up working on the engine, he asked if I would like to go for a ride. I was eager for a new experience, so I moved over to the passenger seat. He adjusted the throttle and spark advance, and then went around front to hand crank the engine.

The engine caught with the characteristic clackita-clackita-clackita roar of the Model T engine. He then climbed into the driver seat and engaged the planetary transmission. Sitting up high in the passenger compartment gave me quite a different sensation of speed. The primitive cross-leaf suspension definitely rode harder than newer cars. The breeze flowing through the split windshield was an interesting twist on summer ventilation.

Needless to say, I was soon captivated on my first ride in an old car about the streets of Lansing. Ford Model T coupes originally retailed for around $520 in the mid 1920’s. Today, number 2 condition examples go for about $12,500.

I have to say, that I owe it to my Uncle Dick for getting me interested in old cars in the late 1950’s. This magnificent obsession progressed to an interest in rods and customs in the early 1960’s, with a return to antique automobiles in the 1970’s. With an over 50 year interest in old cars, many have said that I am a “Genuine Car Nut.”

So, that’s the story of my first ride in an old car. I would like to hear about your first ride in an old car. Let the comments begin.