Model Ts gather here

June 18, 2000|By TARA REILLY

About 140 Model T owners from across the United States pulled into the Ramada Inn in Hagerstown on Sunday to celebrate the car that's often described as one that "changed automotive engineering forever."

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The group is part of a national tour sponsored by the Blue & Gray Chapter of the Model T Ford Club of America. The chapter has been in operation since 1980 and is based in Hagerstown. Last year's national tour was held in Maine.

"They're here from all over," Connie Grimm of the chapter said. "One guy is even here from England, but he didn't bring his car."

Built between 1908 and 1927 by Ford Motor Co., about 15 million Model Ts were sold during that time. Grimm said the cars were the first to put the majority of Americans behind the wheel.


Grimm owns three Model Ts, including one that once belonged to Arthur Godfrey, a popular radio and television personality in the early to mid-1900s.

The first Model T, which sold for $850 in 1908, weighed about 1,200 pounds, had a top speed of 45 mph and had gas mileage of between 13 and 21 miles per gallon. Prices later dropped to about $260.

Today, Model Ts are worth anywhere from $8,000 to $38,000.

"They run pretty good," Grimm said. "They're mostly a stock car."

She said she hasn't had many problems with her Model Ts. In 1984 she drove one from Hagerstown to Seattle, Wash. without any difficulties.

"It took 17 days, and nothing went wrong," Grimm said.

In early Model Ts, the fuel tank was under the front passenger seat, a windshield was optional and to start the car, someone had to get out and crank it. Later Fords came with a self-starter, but just in case, the crank was still available as a backup.

It was built on a single chassis design, but came with nine body styles. From 1914 to 1925 the only color was black.

Gerry and Joe Miller of Smithsburg are also members of the club and own a 1927 Ford Model T Huckster Wagon.

Joe Miller said it took him about six months to build the car during the early 1980s.

"I've just always liked the cars," he said.

Gerry Miller said she and her husband go on local tours about twice a month with the Blue and Gray Chapter.

On the national tour, which began Sunday and will continue through Friday, June 23, members will travel in their Model Ts to various sites in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. The cars will be available for public view after 5 p.m. through Friday.

Grimm hopes the tour generates more interest in Model T cars.

"Everybody likes antique cars," she said. "It's quite an interest from the old to the young."

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