Ford Model T
aka Tin Lizzie
Production 1908 - 1927
15 Million units
Class Entry-Level
Body Style 2-door touring (1908-1911)

3-door touring (1912-1925) 4-door touring (1926-1927)

Length 3404 mm (134 in)
Width 1676 mm (66 in)
Height 1860 mm (73.2 in)
Wheelbase 2540 mm (100 in)
Weight 540-750 kg (1200-1650 lb)
Transmission 2-apeed planetary gear
Engine 2.9 L 177 C.I.D. 20 hp
Power 20 hp
Similar Chevrolet Series C Classic Six
Overland Model 38
Cadillac Model 30
Chevrolet Series 490
Chevrolet Series FB
Citroën Type A
Citroën Type B
Citroën Type C
Dodge 30-35
Designer Childe Harold Wills
Joseph A. Galamb
Eugene Farkas
Harry Love
C. J. Smith
Gus Degner
Peter E. Martin

The Ford Model T (colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie and the Flivver) was an automobile produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from 1908 through 1927. The model T set 1908 as the historic year that the automobile came into popular usage. It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car which "put America on wheels"; this was due to some of Ford's innovations, including assembly line production instead of individual hand crafting, as well as the concept of paying the workers a wage proportionate to the cost of the car, so that they would provide a ready made market. (Ford also attempted a 'buy on time' program to aid sales, resembling that of the German Kdf-Wagen (the forerunner of the Volkswagen Beetle). Ford's plan was not a success, either.) The first production Model T was built on September 27, 1908, at the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan.

There were several cars produced or prototyped by Henry Ford from the founding of the company in 1903 until the Model T came along. Although he started at the Model A, there were not 19 production models; some were only prototypes. The production model immediately before the Model T was the Ford Model S [2], an upgraded version of the company's largest success to that point, the Model N. For some reason, the follow-up was the Ford Model A and not the Model U. Company publicity said this was because the new car was such a departure from the old that Henry wanted to start all over again with the letter A. As it happens, the first Plymouth car (1928), built by competitor Chrysler Corporation, was named the Model U.

In the international poll for the award of the world's most influential car of the twentieth century the Ford Model T came first.

Recent News[]

  • In 2008, the historic Model T celebrated its 100th birthday. The birthday bash kicked off at the Amelia Island Concours where it was the year's Guest of Honor. Afterwards, Ford, in tandem with the Model T Club of America, hosted the "T Party 2008" in Richmond, Indiana on July 21-26 where Model T's from all over the world were on display as part of the festivities.[3]

Mid-Cycle Changes[]

  • There were few major changes throughout the life of this model; early ones had a brass radiator and headlights. The horn and numerous small parts were also brass. Many of the early cars were open-bodied touring cars and runabouts, these being cheaper to make than closed cars. After the 1911 model year (when front doors were added to the touring model), US-made open cars did not have an opening door for the driver. Later models included closed cars, sedans, coupes and trucks. The chassis was available so trucks could be built to suit. Ford also developed some truck bodies for this chassis. The headlights were originally acetylene lamps made of brass, but eventually the car gained electric lights.

Styles and Major Options[]


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Trim1 Trim2 Trim3 Trim4
$Price1 $Price2 $Price3 $Price4
$Price1 $Price2 $Price3 $Price4

Gas Mileage[]

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As seen on the website, the City/Highway MPG averages are as follows:

Trim1 Trim2 Trim3 Trim4
c/h c/h c/h c/h

Engine and Transmission[]


See Ford Model T engine

The Model T had a front-mounted, 177 in³ (2.9 L) four-cylinder en bloc motor (that is, all four in one block, as common now, rather than in individual castings, as common then) producing 20 hp (15 kW) for a top speed of 45 mph (72 km/h). The engine had side valves and three main bearings. Recent accounts credit the default-configuration Model T with fuel economy on the order of 25 to 30 mpg (7.8-9.4 L/100 km). The engine was capable of running on gasoline or ethanol[4], though the decreasing cost of gasoline and the later introduction of Prohibition made ethanol an impractical fuel.

Before starting a Model T with the hand crank, you had to retard the spark, or you stood a good chance of breaking your arm if the engine "kicked back". The crank handle should be cupped in the palm, rather than grabbed with the thumb over the top of the handle, so that if the engine does kick back, the rapid reverse motion of the crank will throw your hand away from the handle, rather than violently twisting the wrist. Most Model T Fords had the choke operated by a wire emerging from the bottom of the radiator where it could be operated with the left hand while cranking the engine with the right hand. Most cars sold after 1919 were equipped with electric starting.

Ignition timing was adjusted manually by rotating the timer using the spark advance lever mounted on the steering column. A certain amount of skill and experience was required to find the optimal choice of magneto or battery and the optimal timing for any speed and load. In keeping with the goal of ultimate reliability and simplicity, this system was retained even after the car became equipped with a generator and battery for the electric starting system.

The car's 10 gallon (38 litre) fuel tank was mounted to the frame beneath the front seat; one variant had the carburetor modified to run on ethyl alcohol, to be made at home by the self-reliant farmer. Because fuel relied on gravity to flow forward from the fuel tank to the carburetor, a Model T could not climb a steep hill when the fuel level was low. The immediate solution was often to drive up steep hills in reverse. In 1926 the fuel tank was moved forward to under the cowl on most models[5].

While the first few hundred Model Ts had a water pump, its use was abandoned early in production. Ford opted for a cheaper and more reliable circulation system based on the thermo-syphon principle. Hot water, being less dense would rise to the top of the engine and up into the top of the radiator, descending to the bottom as it cooled, and back into the engine. This was the direction of water flow in most makes of cars even when they did have water pumps, until the introduction of crossflow radiator designs. Water pumps were also available as an aftermarket accessory for Model T.

Transmission and drivetrain[]

File:Ford model t suspension.triddle.jpg

The suspension components of a Ford Model T. The coil-spring device is an aftermarket accessory, the "Hassler shock absorber."

The Model T was a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Its transmission was a planetary gear type billed as "three speed", although by today's standards it would be considered a two speed, in that one speed was actually reverse. Ironically, one feature of the car would be considered relatively state of the art today; there was no separate clutch pedal. There are three foot pedals. Left pedal pushed fully forward engages low gear, the middle position is neutral and fully back is high gear. The handbrake in partially forward position constrains the pedal to move only between neutral and low, when fully released it allows the full range of pedal travel from high, through neutral to low gear. Middle pedal pushed forward engages reverse gear. Right pedal pushed forward operates the brake (on the transmission). In emergency stamp on any two pedals to stop..... Throttle was controlled by one of the two levers on the steering column, the other being the advance/retard. Although it was extremely uncommon, the drive bands could fall out of adjustment, allowing the car to creep, particularly when cold, adding another hazard to attempting to start the car; that of the person cranking being forced backward while still holding the crank as the car crept forward even though it was nominally in neutral. Power reached the differential through a single universal joint attached to a torque tube which drove the rear axle; some models (typically trucks) could be equipped with an optional two speed rear axle shifted by a floor mounted lever. All gears were vanadium steel running in an oil bath.

Suspension and wheels[]

Model T suspension employed a transversely mounted semi-elliptical spring for each of the front and rear axles, which were "live," i.e., not an independent suspension. The front axle was drop forged as a single piece of vanadium steel. Ford twisted many axles eight times and sent them to dealers to be put on display to demonstrate its superiority. The Model T did not have a modern service brake. The right foot pedal applied a band around a drum in the transmission, thus stopping the rear wheels from turning. The previously mentioned parking brake lever operated band brakes on the outside of the rear brake drums.

Wheels were wooden artillery wheels, with steel welded-spoke (not truly wire) wheels available in 1926 and 27 from Ford. Tires were pneumatic 30 inches in diameter, 3.5 inches wide in the rear, 3 inches in the front. The old nomenclature for tire size changed from 30X3 to 21" (rim diameter) X 4.50 (tire width). Wheelbase was 99 inches; while standard tread width was 56 inches, 60 inch tread could be obtained on special order, "for Southern roads".


Please make sure to write information of the vehicle's performance in a third-person point of view. This section should include information about the car's acceleration figures, handling, braking, etc.

If using information gathered from Road Test articles from a reputable automotive source, then please make sure to cite the quote.


Warranty options and scheduled maintainence information should be mentioned here.

The Model T's durability was phenomenal. Through the employment of advanced technology (such as use of vanadium steel), any Model Ts and their parts still in use 80 years later.


This section should reference points on safety ratings and features of the vehicle.



As Henry Ford once famously put it, "You can have it in any color, so long as it's black."

Main Competitors[]

Create links to other <MAKE> <MODEL> pages in this section.

Hybrid Models[]

The Ford Model T has had a few hybrids built based on the original design. They have not been endorsed by ford and were all custom made. One of the most famous was made by Italian custom car maker, Jack Ferrari. It was a raised utility version of the classic 'Tin Lizzy'.

Unique Attributes[]

The Ford Model car was designed by Childe Harold Wills and two Hungarian imigrants named Joseph A. Galamb and Eugene Farkas. Also, Harry Love, C. J. Smith, Gus Degner and Peter E. Martin were part of the team. [1]. While production of the Model T began in 1908, model years range from 1909 to 1927.

Assembly line system[]

The revolutionary Model T factory assembly line system was introduced to Ford Motor Company by William C. Klann upon his return from visiting a Chicago slaughterhouse and viewing what was referred to the "disassembly line" where animals were butchered as they moved along a conveyor. The efficiency of one person removing the same piece over and over caught his attention. He reported the idea of an assembly line to Peter E. Martin who was doubtful at the time but encouraged him to proceed. Others at Ford have claimed to have put the idea forth to Henry Ford but William "Pa" Klann's slaughterhouse revelation is well documented in the archives at the Henry Ford Museum and elsewhere making him the father of the modern automated assembly line concept. The process was an evolution by trial and error of a team consisting primarily of Peter E. Martin, the factory superintendent; Charles E. Sorensen, Martin's assistant; Harold Wills, draftsman and toolmaker; Clarence W. Avery and Charles Lewis.[2] [3] [4] When the first car was completed using the assembly line; in front of the media, onlookers and even Henry Ford himself; it was Pa Klann who drove it proudly off the line.


This section should include information on the interior's design, build quality, ergonomics, space (head and legroom, front and rear), features, stowage compartments and overall comfortability and livability. Add pictures wherever applicable and keep information in a third-person point of view.

Resale Values[]

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<MODEL> Year
Year X Year X-2 Year X-3 Year X-4
Resale Value
$ $ $ $


  • In 1999, a panel of journalists and experts voted the Model T The Car of the Century.[6]
  • In June 2007, American Motorcyclist listed the Model T as one of the 8 worst things ever to happen to motorcycling for ending the era of motorcycles as mainstream transportation.

Unique Variants and Models[]


Ford's Piquette plant could not keep up with demand for the Model T and only 11 cars were built there during the first full month of production. Peter E. Martin was plant superintendent and production manager, Charles E. Sorensen was Martin's assistant and handled production development. In 1910, after assembling nearly 12,000 Model Ts, Henry Ford moved the company to the new Highland Park complex. The Model T was the first automobile mass produced on assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts, marketed to the middle class. Henry Ford is commonly reputed to have made the statement "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." Actually, Model Ts in different colors were produced from 1908 to 1914, and then again from 1926 to 1927. It is often stated that Ford chose black because the paint dried faster than other colored paints available at the time, and a faster drying paint would allow him to build cars faster as he would not have to wait for the paint to dry. However, this theory is not supported by fact.

Over 30 different types of black paint were used to paint various parts of the Model T. The different types of paint were formulated to satisfy the different means of applying the paint to the different parts, and had different drying times, depending on the paint and the drying method used for a particular part. Ford engineering documents suggest that the color black was chosen because it was cheap and it was durable.

By 1914, the assembly process for the Model T had been so streamlined it took only 93 minutes to assemble a car. That year Ford produced more cars than all other automakers combined. The Model T was a great commercial success, and by the time Henry made his 10 millionth car, 9 out of 10 of all cars in the entire world were Fords. In fact, it was so successful that Ford did not purchase any advertising between 1917 and 1923; in total, more than 15 million Model Ts were manufactured, more than any other model of automobile for almost a century.

It was sold in the beginning at a price of $850 when competing cars often cost $2000-$3000. By the 1920s the price had fallen to $300 (about $3,300 in 2005 inflation-adjusted dollars) because of increasing efficiencies of assembly line technique and volume. Henry employed vertical integration of the industries needed to create his cars. He specified how to make the wood crates that outside suppliers used to ship him parts. Then he disassembled the crates and used the preformed wood pieces in the bodies of his cars. He also used wood scraps to make charcoal and sold it under the brand name "Kingsford," still a leading brand of charcoal.

Henry's eccentric approach to research and development meant few changes to the T were made over its lifetime; he believed the T was all the car a person would, or could, ever need. As other companies offered comfort and styling advantages, at competitive prices, the T lost market share. Eventually, on May 26, 1927, Ford Motor Company ceased production and began the changeovers required to produce the Model A.[7]

Model T motors continued to be produced until August 4, 1941. Almost 170,000 motors were built after car production stopped. Replacement motors were required to continue to service already produced vehicles and racers and enthusiasts, forerunners of modern hot rodders, used the T's block to build popular and cheap racing engines, including Cragar, Navarro, and famously the Frontenacs ("Fronty Fords") of the Chevrolet brothers, among many others.

Design quirks and oddities[]

  • In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, inspired by the Ford Model T, the letter T is used as a symbol of the modern times, and crosses on graveyards are cut off to reshape them in the form of the letter T.
  • One of the characters of the 2006 movie Cars is a 1923 Model T called "Lizzie".
  • In the 1961 movie, The Absent Minded Professor, Professor Brainard uses a Model T to test his discovery, Flubber.
  • In 1925, the New Zealand Railways Department, as part of its experiments with railcars, used Model T chassis and other equipment as the basis for two RM class Model T Ford railcars. However, the railcars rode roughly, suffered from overheating problems, and were discarded in 1931. Railways in other countries also used the Model T as a basis for railcars, but none survive today. Two replicas have been constructed, one in the United States and one to the New Zealand design by the Pleasant Point Museum and Railway, where it is a star attraction. The body of one of the original New Zealand Model T railcars has been located by the Pleasant Point Railway, but there are presently no plans to restore it.
  • The nickname of the car, 'Tin Lizzie' could have inspired the name of Irish rock band Thin Lizzy.

Car clubs[]

Cars built before 1919 are classed as veteran cars and later models as vintage cars. Today, two main clubs exist to support the preservation and restoration of these cars: The Model T Ford Club International ( and the Model T Ford Club of America ( Many steel Model T parts are still manufactured today, and even fiberglass replicas of their distinctive bodies, which are popular for T-bucket style hot rods (as immortalized in the Jan and Dean surf music song "Bucket T," which was later recorded by The Who).

Films and television appearances []




Lizzie is a character in Cars and Cars 2. She is voiced by Katherine Helmond.

See also[]

  • Aeroford - a British copy on the Model T

Mustang-piece2 new

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  1. Reynold M. Wik, Henry Ford Grass Roots America, 1972
  2. First hand account of Charles Sorensen from his autobiography, My Forty Years with Ford (1956)[1]
  3. Essay by Stephen C. Perry, Gardner-Webb University (Published May 8, 2000)
  4. Douglas Brinkley, Wheels for the World, 2003

External Links[]


  • A summer amusement park called Tinkertown has a ride called "The Tin Lizzie Car Ride". The ride features real and modified Ford Model T's. The wheels were attached to a rail, and you could safely drive the Model T around a driving course.