I am not a car person. Oh sure, I can tell grey cars from blue cars, and I can identify station wagons, pick up trucks, and convertibles (when their tops are down), but names and makes mean virtually nothing to me because they all look so much alike. So perhaps I am the only person on earth who was surprised to learn what I learned about Model T Fords, the car that my main character drives in my Roaring Twenties stories. (A 1925 version is pictured here.)
Did you know that . . . .?
Model Ts were not even called Model Ts until the middle of the 1920s. People referred to them as Tin Lizzies or flivvers or simply Fords.
15 million of them were manufactured from 1909 to 1927. In the mid-1920s, roughly half the cars on American roads were Model Ts. It was not a luxury car or a beautiful car, but it was cheap, reliable, and within the pocketbook of America’s middle class.
Everyone knows Henry Ford’s famous saying: “You can have any color you like as long as it’s black.” He may or may not have actually said it, but whatever the case, it wasn’t true. Ford factories manufactured Model Ts in several colors. For the first 5 years, customers could choose between red, blue, green, grey, and black. But Henry Ford’s obsession with cost-cutting pushed him to limit the choices to one. From 1913-1925, only black was offered, so perhaps he made that statement in 1913 when they eliminated colors. Why? Because black paint was the cheapest and most durable, and Henry was hell bent on reducing the price of his cars, so black it was. In an attempt to boost sales, he returned to a choice of colors for the last two years of the Model T’s production.
I don’t know about you, but I always thought the Model T referred to a particular car that varied little over its lifetime. The second part of that sentence is true—the design hardly changed from year to year—but there were many different models each year, all built with the same engine and chassis (that’s the frame, for those of you who, like me, didn’t know). The only variable was the body. I discovered that there were roadsters (a la Nancy Drew), speedsters, coupes, coupelets, runabouts, roadster torpedos, town cars, touring cars, and the fordor and tudor sedans (get it? 4-door and 2-door . . . heh, heh.)
Now I need to decide which one my main character drives. Sigh . . . choices, choices . . .