Sunday, August 30, 2015

1915 Model T drives 3,600 miles duplicating Edsel Ford's road trip of a century ago

"Among the normal fears of the Mojave is the thought of being stranded. It was over 110 degrees. The Model T was running cool. The road was solid but bumpy so we took it slow and steady. Everything was fine until the hard pack soil gradually turned soft and sandy. The Model T was the first to bog down. It stalled and we crank started it only to stall again in the deep sand." We looked around for alternatives and at one point drove the Model T on what seemed to be firmer ground parallel to the road only to find ourselves getting stuck again in soft sand. It took a bit of muscle, but three of us managed to get the Model T back on the road and pointing back towards the way we came." (Historic Vehicle Association)

By Tanya Moutzalias

DETROIT, MI - A restored 1915 Model T Touring Car and its crew of drivers have successfully made the cross country road trip from Detroit in the 100 year-old car to their destination- San Francisco.

On July 17, Historical Vehicle Association President Mark Gessler and Heritage Specialist Casey Maxon began their road trip journey from the Henry Ford Estate adjacent to the University of Michigan Deaborn campus.

They set off to replicate the epic trip taken 100 years-ago by Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford, and friends in the same model, 20-horsepower, 4-cylinder car driven by Edsel Ford.

The most challenging aspect of the trip was being, "mindful of the fact that it is a 100-year-old car and you can't just pound the miles on it like a modern car and just forget about it the next day," said Maxon. He also said the most surprising part was just how smooth the ride was.

The HVA crew tried to chart the same path as Edsel Ford's journey, following the scrapbook of H.R. Caulkins Jr., one of Edsel's friends who documented the trip with a typed log on now-yellowed pages and numerous photographs bound in a blue scrapbook.

Read more about their trip here: 1915 Model T to duplicate great American road trip taken by Edsel Ford 100 years ago

"While the roads were good, they were still not great," Maxon said. "The route they took was the National Old Trails Highway.

At a top speed of 35 mph, the month-long trip was full of adventure for the HVA crew just as it was for 21 year-old Edsel Ford and his six friends.

To say today's drive was an adventure would be an understatement. It became clear why so many were able to travel the primitive roads of this country in Henry Ford's brilliant machine. All five of us concluded that the Model T was easily the most versatile two-wheel drive, commercially available vehicle ever produced. Tackling trails that would make even the most seasoned off-roaders blush, the T performed unbelievably well, the only damage suffered being a broken top latch strap, the result of a bit too much body flexing.

The purpose of the trip was to commemorate "the importance of the automobile in our culture, how it shaped our roadways, how it shaped our nation, how in 1915 it all kind of kicked off," Maxon said.