Ford Model T

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Model T

Image does not exist

Production period: 1908-1927
Engines: Otto engine :
2.9 liters (20 hp)
Length: 3404 (1912 Roadster) mm
Width: 1676 (1912 Roadster) mm
Height: 1860 (1912 Roadster) mm
Wheelbase : 2553 (1912 Roadster) mm
Empty weight : 540-750 kg
Ford T Touring with retrofitted wire spoke wheels (1912)
Ford T Runabout (ca.1915)
Ford T Racer (1917)
Ford T Tudor Sedan (1926)
Ford Model T Speedster, no factory build (1925–1926)

The Model T from Ford (also known as Tin Lizzie , "Blechliesel") was the best-selling automobile in the world until 1972 when this title went to the VW Beetle . 15 million units were built in the United States between 1908 and 1927 . In the 2010s, around one percent of all models still existed.


Between the founding of the Ford Motor Company by Henry Ford in 1903 and the start of production of the Model T, several types were developed and some were also produced. The first of these was called Model A , the following developments carried the next letters of the alphabet, but not all developments were made ready for production; many stayed with the prototype . The direct predecessor was the Ford Model S , a further development of the hitherto greatest success of the Ford Model N .


Henry Ford designed the "T-Ford", as it is often called by its current owners, for the simplest operation and ease of repair, which is why the car did not have a conventional vehicle transmission with clutch and selector lever . The engine has neither a cooling water pump nor an oil filter , there is no fuel pump and no dipstick. A fuel gauge was unusual at the time, and vehicle heaters did not appear until the 1930s. The construction is simple, almost all repairs can be carried out without special tools. At the time, spare parts could be ordered from any hardware store in the USA, and a lot was in stock. Ford recognized that for industrial mass production, all components must be manufactured with consistently high quality and small tolerances in order to be able to realize trouble-free assembly on the assembly line. This made him, together with Frederick Taylor , a pioneer in quality assurance . Due to their simple structure, series production with consistent quality and high-quality materials (e.g. vanadium-alloyed steel for the rear axle), the Model T were more reliable and durable than the cars that were handcrafted at the time.


A ladder frame made of riveted U- steel profiles serves as the chassis , which houses the axles, engine, power transmission and the body. The body was available from the factory in many variants, for example as a coupé, four-seater convertible ( Touring ), two-seater convertible (“ Runabout ”), sedan (“Tudor”) and truck (“One-Ton-Truck”). It was built in the usual way at the time as a wooden frame planked with sheet metal.

The car has a front axle forged in one piece from vanadium alloy steel, which is guided by two diagonal push rods and a transverse semi-elliptical leaf spring. The axle is forked and connected to the forged steering knuckles via bolts . The rear axle consists of two cast housing halves (axle hoppers), which house the differential gear and the two drive shafts. The rear axle is also guided by two push rods and a transverse leaf spring. Thanks to the long suspension travel and the large ground clearance, it was also possible to drive on bad roads and fords . Ford retained the basic construction ( drawbar axles , pushed forward) in the following models.

Motor in partial section

The four - cylinder in - line engine with a one - piece housing, removable cylinder head and piston made of gray cast iron has three crankshaft bearings and upright valves . With a bore of 3.75  inches (95.25 mm) and a stroke of 4.0 inches (101.6 mm), the displacement is 2.9 liters . The compression ratio of initially 4.5: 1 was later reduced to 4: 1. The rearmost gearbox bearing is often referred to as the fourth main bearing because the planetary gearbox has only one main shaft. The mixture is formed in a flat- flow gasifier . The petrol comes without a pump from the tank located a little higher under the driver's seat (fall petrol system ). The special “buzzer ignition” works with four ignition coils that are connected to a rotating low-voltage distributor flanged to the camshaft . Each coil has its own breaker , which interrupts the circuit on the low-voltage side in quick succession and thus generates several ignition sparks on the spark plug . The electrical energy is supplied by a dynamo built into the flywheel . A battery can be connected for easier starting. The engine lubrication is designed as centrifugal lubrication without a separate oil pump, which on longer inclines can lead to the front connecting rod bearings running dry, which can result in engine damage.

The engine drives the rear wheels via a planetary gear and a cardan shaft . The simple epicyclic gearbox has two gears that are operated by a pedal, just like the reverse gear and the foot brake, which acts on a brake band in the gearbox and thus brakes the cardan shaft. The handbrake acts on the drum brakes on the rear axle via tie rods . The car has no front brakes. The so-called " Rocky Mountain Brakes", additional outer band brakes on the rear axle , were popular accessories .

The engine developed 15 kW (20 hp) at a speed of 1800 rpm and the vehicle reached a speed of 67  km / h . The standing quarter mile (402 m) was reached after 32.9 seconds.


The Tin Lizzie was the first car to be made on automatically powered assembly lines . After the switch to this industrial mode of production on January 14, 1914, the selling price was reduced from $ 850 (about $ 22,390 or € 18,900 in today's purchasing power) to $ 370 (about $ 9,750 or € 8,230 in today's purchasing power). In order to speed up production, only black body parts were produced between 1915 and 1925, as only one painting line was needed and the black Japan Black paint dried the fastest. For a long time it was claimed that Henry Ford's famous phrase “You can have it in any color as long as it's black” (“You can have it in any color, as long as it is black.”) Was only superseded. This quote is incomplete. In his book Mein Leben und Werk, in the chapter The Secret of Production, there is the sentence “Every customer can have his car painted as he likes, if the car is only black.” This uniform paint scheme was introduced with model year 1914, although it was interesting to note that before that, black was not at all was listed as an available color.

During the Weimar Republic , the Ford Motor Company Aktiengesellschaft was founded in Berlin in 1925. On January 2, 1926, BEHALA (Berliner Hafen- und Lagerhausgesellschaft) rented a grain hall at Berlin's Westhafen as an assembly hall. Since complete imported vehicles were taxed more heavily than individual parts, from April 1, 1926, the components supplied from the USA were assembled by initially 30 workers. In 1929 450 people were already employed at the Westhafen plant. The company's headquarters were relocated to the new Cologne-Niehl plant in 1930 and assembly in Berlin was completed on March 15, 1931.

The price reductions achieved through the ongoing rationalization of assembly line production resulted in high sales of the T-model in the 1920s, despite the fact that the technology was now outdated compared to the competing models and the lack of comfort. Daily production reached 9,000 pieces at times. Henry Ford held onto the Model T for a long time. Even a model that was released for the last two years of production, externally and in a few technical parts, could not prevent the sharp decline in sales. The urgently awaited successor, Model A , went into production in 1927 after extensive reconstruction of the factory.

At that time, Ford was already outsourcing parts of its production to suppliers in order to further reduce costs and increase production efficiency. The supplier companies also had to deliver their parts in wooden boxes, the dimensions of which were precisely specified by Ford. The boxes were dismantled in the factory and the boards used in the vehicle.


Ford T Runabout (1915) right-hand drive British production
Ford Model T: Pedals, from the left clutch, reverse gear, brake. In the background on the right the manual ignition adjustment.

While the technical changes and improvements in the 19 years of production were rather minor, the external appearance changed. In the first years of production, the Model T had no front doors; the body still looked very much like a carriage . In the following years, the body was provided with increasingly rounded parts, which resulted in a more elegant shape. In 1917 the radiator grille and bonnet were also adapted to this shape. In the first years, when headlights, a windshield and a spare wheel were optional extras, the convertible top of the "Touring" had no connection to the windshield frame; it was self-supporting and difficult to fold. In 1923 came the “One Man Top”, which, like the previous versions, was supported on the window frame and could be folded up by just one person.

The technical changes were mostly only detailed modifications, apart from the change of the gear shift from the earlier "Two Lever" versions with two pedals and one lever (in the first 1,000 vehicles produced) to the version with three pedals (clutch, reverse gear and Foot brake) and a handbrake lever that acted on the rear wheel parking brake. Accelerated with a lever on the steering wheel.

Further technical modifications were made to meet the increased need for comfort. Electric starters were installed because the starting procedure could hardly be managed on its own: First, the ignition must be set to "late" in order to avoid strains and broken bones. Then, with the choke cable pulled, the engine must be turned over with the hand crank until the intake vacuum has sucked in enough fuel to overflow the carburetor, then the ignition is switched to battery setting. Now the engine is turned with the hand crank until it starts. Then the ignition must be set back to "early" and switched to "magnet", a detailed fine adjustment of the gas and ignition helps to warm up the engine.

The switch from acetylene headlights to electrically operated ones made day-to-day operation easier, but a step backwards in terms of light output, because the 6-volt headlights , which shone brightly or not quite as brightly depending on the engine speed, could not be as bright hardly keep up with the very white light of the acetylene headlights.

Most of the innovations were implemented in the major “facelift” in 1926 mentioned above. The body was extensively renovated and adapted to current tastes. The ignition boxes moved to the engine compartment, where they no longer bothered by their humming sound, and the intake tract including the carburetor was largely changed. There were now wire-spoke wheels and bumpers.

further explanation

Ford model TT with wooden structure
Ford Model TT as Shell - tankers
The first Fordson tractor (1917)

Model TT

A truck was also offered parallel to the Model T car. It was known as the Ford Model TT .

Rail car

The Model T was also used as a rail vehicle. It could be turned on the track by means of a lifting and rotating device attached under the floor of the car. A 2010 replica of completed such a car is at the museum railway Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway Museum (WW & F) in the US state of Maine .

Fordson tractor

Based on the engine technology of the Model T, the Fordson tractor was launched in 1917 . It was developed to motorize agriculture with small tractors. In Germany, the Fordson was a cheap alternative to the steam tractors that were still in use at the time , because the small, lightweight tractor with its four-stroke petrol engine was easy to maintain and universally applicable.

The Fordson was constructed in monoblock construction, the engine and transmission formed the supporting structure instead of a frame, which accommodated the axles and other components, which was an innovation at the time. Despite its weight of 1,250 kg, the Fordson put less pressure on the ground than a horse. The engine was started on gasoline and then switched to petroleum. With a consumption of four to seven liters per operating hour, it developed 16 to 21 kW (22–28 hp). With this machine performance is 10 calculated at the time with a daily output when plowing, for example, of 2.5 to 3 ha (0.6 ha at a Pferdegespann), ha with a 2-m-double disc harrow (6.5 ha with horses) or 6 up to 7 ha when mowing (3 ha with horses). The tensile load was given as 6 to 8 t.

In contrast to the Model T, the Fordson has a steel plate clutch that ran in oil and a manual transmission with three forward gears and one reverse gear. The fuel tank held 80 liters and sat directly above the engine. Like the Model T, the tractor had thermosiphon cooling . The intake air was cleaned in a water-filled gas scrubber.

Ford Tf-c armored car

Ford three-tone

There were also armored cars on the chassis of the Ford-T: The Ford M 1918 , which was developed during the First World War , but was no longer introduced due to the end of the war, and the Ford Tf-c , also known as the Ford FT-B, was the first armored car designed and built in Poland . The main designer was the engineer Tadeusz Tanski. The armored car was built during the Polish-Soviet War in 1918. The armor consisted of earlier German moat shields on the chassis of the Model T. The project came about within two weeks on Tanski's initiative. After positive tests, a series of 17 armored Fords was built in the Warsaw factory "Gerlach i Pulst". They took part in the Battle of the Wkra and the Battle of Warsaw , the Battle of Kovel and other skirmishes during the Polish-Soviet War .

The advantages of the armored car included speed, maneuverability and, thanks to the chassis of the Model T, easy maintenance and repair. Despite their increased mass, the armored vehicles managed well in the field and, due to their low mass compared to other armored vehicles, they were also able to cross bridges with a low load-bearing capacity. The Ford Tf-c was small compared to other armored vehicles of the time, for example the Austin-Putilow armored car , and therefore offered only a small target area. However, it was very tight inside and the driver had to steer while huddled. Other shortcomings were the engines that overheated during long off-road journeys or when the radiator armor was lowered, and the suspension, which was overloaded despite the reinforcement.

In 1921, Tanski suggested building another series of 30 vehicles, but that was rejected because the war was over and no more armored vehicles were needed.

Ford Model T with snow equipment (1921- Smithsonian Institute)

Twelve Ford Tf-c armored cars survived the war and were in service until 1931. Some had proper names like "Osa" (wasp), "Mucha" (fly) or "Komar" (mosquito).

Ford M 1918

The Ford M 1918 was a light battle tank that was developed and tested on the basis of the Ford Model T in 1918 as part of the First World War.

Photo gallery


  • Henry Ford: My life and work. with the assistance of Samuel Crowther. 18th edition. Paul List Verlag, Leipzig 1923. (Only authorized German edition by Curt and Marguerite Thesing)
  • George H. Dammann: Illustrated History of Ford. Crestline Publishing, Sarasota FL 1970, ISBN 0-912612-02-9 . (English)
  • James M. Flammang, David L. Lewis: Ford Chronicle - A Pictorial History from 1893. Consumer's Guide. Publications International, Lincolnwood IL 1992, ISBN 1-56173-730-5 . (English)
  • Beverly Rae Kimes (ed.); Henry Austin Clark Jr. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 3. Edition. Krause Publications, Iola WI 1996, ISBN 0-87341-428-4 . (English)
  • Robert D. Dluhy: American Automobiles of the Brass Era: Essential Specifications of 4,000+ Gasoline Powered Passenger Cars, 1906-1915, with a Statistical and Historical Overview. Mcfarland & Co, 2013, ISBN 978-0-7864-7136-2 . (English)
  • GN Georgano (Ed.): Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars, 1885 to the Present. 2nd Edition. Dutton Press, New York 1973, ISBN 0-525-08351-0 . (English)
  • Harald H. Linz, Halwart Schrader : The International Automobile Encyclopedia . United Soft Media Verlag, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-8032-9876-8 .
  • Beverly Rae Kimes: Pioneers, Engineers, and Scoundrels: The Dawn of the Automobile in America. Published by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Permissions, Warrendale PA 2005, ISBN 0-7680-1431-X . (English)
  • David Beecroft: History of the American Automobile Industry. A series of articles reprinted in The Automobile magazine . first published between October 1915 and August 1916. Publisher, 2009, ISBN 978-0-557-05575-3 . (English)
  • James J. Flink: America Adopts the Automobile - 1895-1910. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1970, ISBN 0-262-06036-1 . (English)

Web links

Commons : Ford Model T  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. 1912 Ford Model T Roadster dimensions . Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  2. 1912 Ford Model T Roadster dimensions . Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  3. 1912 Ford Model T Roadster dimensions . Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  4. 1912 Ford Model T Roadster dimensions . Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  5. ^ Kimes / Clark: Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 1996, p. 579.
  6. Reiner Flik: Learn from Ford? Automobile construction and motorization in Germany until 1933 . Cologne 2001, pp. 171–172.
  7. Andrew Thompson: In the Maine Forests . In: Lok Magazin . No. 3 , 2014, p. 98 ff .