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Lot 405: Ford Model T Raceabout Speedster

Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia, Bonhams (3 June 2012)

Before '32 Coupes and Dry Lake Hot Rods, it was the Model T Speedster that was considered to be the original fast Ford. Having become a truly ubiquitous car not long into its production, a market quickly sprang up for parts that would make the Ford perform better. The robust and simple nature of these cars allowed for all sorts of modifications. High compression and over-head valve cylinder heads began to be offered as well as sleek body kits. As most car enthusiasts could only dream of owning a Stutz Bearcat or Mercer Raceabout, the resourceful Ford owner could actually craft his car into something similar. Depending on how deep his pockets were, he could even make it go as fast. It should come as no surprise, then, that due to Ford's cost effective nature and competitive attitude, the company soon became the dominant platform for the construction of racing cars in the teens. A Ford T based car even finished 8th at the Indianapolis 500. This car is an example of an early style Ford Speedster. Its look is as close to a Mercer or Stutz as a Ford will ever look; nothing about the car has much in common with what initially rolled off Henry Ford's assembly line. The hood is longer than normal, as is the special low steering column. The driving position is also low and racy; the driver sits nearly where the back seat would lie on a standard Ford. The fenders are Ford Torpedo/Mercer-type, with just the minimal running board and long, attractive splash aprons. The cowl and seat platform are all custom fabricated, and a Torpedo-type tank rests at the back. The real special detail, however, is the frame extension behind the rear cross member that allows the use of the Mercer Raceabout-style dual tire carrier. This gives the car a great appearance, unlike any other Ford. The normally undamped springs are kept in check by an ultra rare period set of Model T Hartford shocks. The exterior is finished with 1914 gas and oil lighting in the racy black and brass finish, and the oversized wood wheel with cotton wrapping further ads to the great period feel. The black paint work is topped off with Mercer style striping. Also, the car is loaded with goodies that make the car go and handle more like a Mercer than a Ford. The sleek, minimal dash/firewall shows a combination Stewart clock/speedometer and a nice wooden coil box. Under the hood are a few more period speed elements, including a Ricardo speed head. This head, designed by the British engineer who developed the Bentley combustion chambers, greatly improves the flow characteristics of the engine without resorting to the complexity of overhead valves. The head is further benefited by the Simmons straight flow carburetor and Swan manifold. The motor was fully torn down less than 500 miles ago. It was found to be in fine order, new rings and seals were installed, and all bearings were checked and adjusted. In keeping with the true spirit of a T, the motor runs on coil boxes and the wooden box is designed to take newer and more reliable K&W coils. The transmission has been set up with Kevlar bands. The magneto windings and magnets were renewed when the engine was done. For the sake of drivability, the car has a later style engine block with electric start and has been equipped with a push button solenoid activated starter. The car is as easy to start and run as a modern car. An extensive restoration, done over the last eight years, has just been completed. Every detail has been addressed and many improvements were made. A very high quality upholstery job was performed, and the seats were re-trimmed in black leather. The car rides on new Universal tires and tubes on demountable wheels on nicely striped and finished wheels. Overall, this is as nicely executed a speedster as one will find. Not only is this Ford Raceabout great looking, it is a fully sorted and ready to enjoy machine.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Greenwich, Connecticut
TypeCar
Lot Number405
Estimate$10000-$15000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$12500
Hammer Price (inc premium)$14625
Year1914
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number2753964
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors