If anyone observed that the Ford’s Model T was the most important automobile of all time, they could probably be right, especially in relation to the United States car industry. It is the car accredited with putting America on wheels.
In the following daunting 19 years from 1908 to 1927, Ford sold more than 15 million Model Ts, including more than 1.9 million in 1923 alone. If you were to drive the Model T in its original form and shape, you would need a whole new curriculum on driving from that era of about one hundred years ago.
Sample these features to get a clear picture. Down low are three foot pedals, which seems simple enough, but get this: the right pedal isn’t the gas, it’s the brake. Pressing the center pedal engages reverse, and the left shifts the gear ratios—in for low gear, out for high and neutral somewhere in between.
The throttle is actuated by a lever mounted on the right side of the steering column, while another lever on the left controls the spark timing. The Model T carries a 2.9-liter four-cylinder iron engine and remains one of the most unique ever made because it had a removable cylinder head.
In the interest of improving reliability and cutting costs, the engine worked without an oil pump, water pump or fuel pump. Oil supply was handled by small scoops on the bottom of the connected rods that both flung the oil upward and directed the lubricant into oil galleries that were drilled in the rods.
The T’s engine relied on simple physics to circulate the coolant—hot water flowed upward into the radiator, cooled down and then traveled to the bottom of the radiator and back into the engine. Fuel flow was handled by, of all things, gravity—the nine-gallon tank sat under the front seat, higher than the carburetor.
Ultimately, the Model T put vehicle engineering in a whole new level and we owe a great deal to this iconic engineering of the last century.
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