This is a Ford T Runabout, built October 31, 1913, at the Highland Park, Michigan plant. The car has serial number 364814. 1913 was the first year for Henry’s mass production line, and the year he changed America.

This little car is a completely correct exam ple of Ford’s early 1914 model year 2-seater runabout built in the fall of 1913. The engine block has a casting date of 10-15-13, and it was built on Halloween, 1913. Back in the fall of 1913, this car could have been yours for under $500 US. It is one of 183,572 Model T Fords produced in 1913, one of 35,017 runabouts made in the same year, one of 7,334 cars produced in October of 1913 and one of 710 cars produced on that day.

1913 was the first year for the ‘black and brass’ cars, so called because the windshield, acetylene generator, side lights and horn were painted black with small brass accents. Previous model years used all brass for these components. Everything works on this car, including the acetylene headlights.

The Restoration

The two seater runabout, often mistakenly called a roads ter, is also called a turtledeck, so named because of the downward sloping rear trunk compartment just behind the front two seats.

Our little turtledeck didn’t always look as fine as it does now. When we found this car in 1998, it had 1936 New York State license plates, and major surgery was in order. Every attempt to preserve the car as Henry Ford had built her was taken. Our efforts have paid off, since this car was judged following restoration at Lakeside ’99 for authenticity and received top honors in its class.

The only additions to this completely stock Model-T we have made are the toolbox, the dogbone radiator cap with motometer, and the brass treads on the running boards. These after market accessories were available for the car in 1913, just not from Ford.  The pictures above  below show how this car looked when we found it  —  pretty rough.

The front and rear fenders were missing, both the front axle and the rear end had been changed some time ago with parts from later cars. During restoration, original components were found and restored.

These pictures were taken just before restoration began. It all looks pretty hopeless at this point.

The following pictures show the various stages of restoration. To the right we see the turtle deck being fitted to match to contour of the runabout body and to the left the rolling chassis with the steering column and firewall attached is shown. The body is rebuilt on a spare frame inside the shop, where any punky wood is replaced with new oak and ash. This guarantees that the body will fit squarely when mounted on the finished frame. These photos show the new body components being built up, before the pit marks are filled and the body painted.

The following pictures show the various stages of restoration.

The rolling chassis with the steering column and firewall attached is shown…

The body is rebuilt on a spare frame inside the shop, where any punky wood is replaced with new oak and ash..

The rolling chassis right before the engine is installed and the body is on the car….

These photos show the new body components being built up.

Pit marks are filled and the body painted…

We used a reproduction radiator as the original one was just too far gone…

The fenders are installed for fit right before disassembly  and paint.

Finished Car!

Finished Car!