1912 Ford Model T

 

Produced by Ford Motor Company between the years of 1908 to 1927, the Ford Model T is a pivotally historic automobile. It was the first mass produced vehicle in American history, and by the end of it’s production run, more than 15 million units were made. Sporting a 20hp crank style engine, the T is capable of reaching speeds of about 45mph. At the tender age of 109 years old, that’s not something you’d want to take out onto the mixing bowl during a morning commute, but the one we got our hands on is still very much a useable, and very drivable car. Our decades old friend and client Charles Kratz approached us about his 1912 Model T this past fall, proposing a project to adjust the tension of the convertible top, which had a tendency to sag heavily under the weight of snow and rain, and for us to do a few other odds and ends. Doing so would require removing the entire top down it’s bare bones. Still referenced in today’s movies and shows, including Netflix Original Peaky Blinders, a story of an up and coming British gangster family set in the 1920’s, which by the way, if you’re not hip to that show yet, it’s definitely worth the watch.

 

Cillian Murphy, of Christopher Nolan’s Batman fame, drives a 1919 Model T in the series Peaky Blinders

 

While today it’s in mostly original condition, several more modern features have been added over the years. Charles’s vision was to outfit an antique vehicle that encompassed the aesthetic and splendor of all things old school, and pair it with the functionality and reliability of a present day automobile. Within it are a number of whimsically unique features, true to it’s original specs. Vintage gas powered headlamps, powered by acetylene, are seated on either side of the engine. A pair of  electric headlamps had been added, as well as disc brakes for additional safety, and an old fashioned bulb horn makes for a satisfying toot toot when squeezed. Here’s a short clip of what it’s like riding in the back seat with the top down –

 

 

The process was relatively straightforward – strip the top, take our measurements, and find a way to add tension to relieve the sagging. Some hours later, the result were as follows –

 

 

 

With the T all fixed and tuned up, it was nearly ready to go, save for some none immediately pressing undercarriage work, which would be put off for a few weeks. Charles, a member of the Tin Lizzie Club of North Central Florida, planned to showcase his T and our handiwork shortly after at the club’s annual meet in St. Augustine, Florida. There, some 125 to 150 Model T’s from all over the world gather, spending ten days traveling town to town convoy style, stopping every few dozen miles to share the awesomeness of their collective rides. Hosted at the five star hotel Best Western Gateway Grand, those meets make for a mighty shwanky affair, and Charles had invited your narrator, Matt, to go as well. A tremendous opportunity to spend ten whole days talking shop and a seeing a medley of vehicles from an era gone by. With the T all fixed and tuned up, it was all ready to go. However, things took a sudden turn when our friend Charles very sadly and unexpectedly, passed away.

 

Charles Irving Kratz, born in 1945, was a widely beloved man, known for his immense knowledge of all things mechanical. Having fought in uniform for his country, he was a heavily decorated soldier. He spent most of his working years in the offices of the United States Secratry of the Army, located in the Pentagon. Charles was deeply generous with his knowledge of vehicles and machines, and would even teach us a thing or two each time he came to visit. Despite having passed away a few weeks before it’s debut in Florida, he was able to see the work done to his T nearly to completion. When we heard the news via phone call from Charles’s family, we learned of the difficulty finding a church large enough to accommodate the many friends he’d gained over the years. Sounds like the Charlie. Having attended ourselves, it was a lovely service.

 

We here at Seatco love what we do as much as we enjoy helping people realize their dreams and even half baked musings when it comes to restoring and customizing their vehicle’s interior. It’s our way of giving back, just as it was Charles’s way of departing humor and knowledge upon those around him. We’ll miss our freind, and will continue using all that he’s taught us. We thank you Charles, and god speed.

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