Restore Or Drive? 1917 Ford Model T Touring

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As a restoration project vehicle, this 1917 Model T touring doesn’t look like it is a bad thing. Of course, it would also be possible to make sure that the vehicle is in sound mechanical condition, and drive it just the way it is. The car has spent its entire life in California, and Auburn, California is where it is today. The old Ford is listed for sale here on eBay, and with the bidding now having reached $6,600, the reserve has been met.

While the Ford looks cosmetically tired, it is a very solid car. There is a fair coating of surface corrosion, but actual rot is not an issue. There are plenty of photos of the underside of the car, and it looks really clean. The doors open and shut smoothly, suggesting that there are no problems with the body itself. The wooden spoked wheels appear to be in good condition, as does the glass. The top is beyond help, but at least the frame is said to be okay. The toolbox on the driver’s side running board is in good condition, and it looks like it contains all of the correct tools for the Ford.

The interior is interesting because while I believe that the covers on the seats might be original, the door trims definitely aren’t. However, the original black trims are still present under these lighter ones, so it would be interesting to see what they are like. The back seat actually doesn’t look that bad and may revive with a good conditioner. The cover on the front seat is pretty bad, and this would definitely need to be replaced. Having said that, it could easily be used if a blanket was thrown over it.

Under the hood is 177ci of Henry’s best. The 4-cylinder flathead engine in the Model T doesn’t just run, but it sounds very healthy. The car also drives nicely, and the brakes work well. It really might be a case of giving the car the once-over, and then being able to hit the road. There is a video of the car being driven at the bottom of this article, and you can see and hear how healthy it is.

I would be very interested to know what the next owner of this Model T Touring intends to do with it. There is no doubt that it would restore very nicely, and it does appear to be a solid candidate for this. Alternatively, they may just choose to confirm that the car is mechanically sound, tidy up the interior, and then drive it as it is. It would certainly attract plenty of attention either way.

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  1. Bob McK

    Nice old T. Would be fun to drive around town.

    Like 6
  2. Crazyhawk

    Wouldn’t change a thing. Saturday morning country drives, a couple of small local car shows. A little tinkering. Perfect.

    Like 10
  3. That AMC Guy

    This car is over 100 years old and still runs! Just do necessary maintenance and otherwise leave it be.

    Like 8
  4. Chevychase71

    As the adage goes, “its only original once,” and original its been for a very long time. I’d leave it just the way it is, take it on cruises( on local roads), and share it with all those who appreciate anything old. What a gem!

    Like 9
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I agree. Other than maintenance, I’d leave it as original as possible.

      Like 0
  5. JohnMember

    Drive it !!!

    Like 6
  6. Z1rider

    They don’t get much more original than this car. Electric starters became optional in 1919, and many earlier cars were retrofitted during overhauls (every 30-40 K miles) but this one, sans a starter, appears to retain its all original powertrain. That’s a good thing, though you will need to become adept at the proper hand cranking technique. No pics of the right side of the engine but I’m doubting there is a generator retrofit, so being a 1917 the headlights are powered by the magneto and the intensity of the headlights varies with engine RPM. All other lighting is by kerosene lamps!!!! Cool car. If I didn’t already have two T’s I’d be all over this one.

    Like 3
    • Z1rider

      Didn’t scroll down far enough to see the right side engine pics. As I suspected no generator. The gasoline level sight glass is a new one to me. Very interesting.

      Like 2

    I think, they are hard to drive, at least for me. It takes a lot of thinking, and un-learning your clutch foot. Most people don’t understand the three pedals, and throttle, and timing on the steering column.
    It’s been 30 years since I drove my Dad’s 21T so I forget the pedals order, but 1 pedal is a brake, 1 is to put you in reverse, while the 3rd pedal is held half way down. The 3rd pedal, when depressed to the floor, is “low”, half way up is “neutral ” and “high” is the pedal all the way released. Dad also used to pull the hand brake back at a stop, which also put it in neutral. I’m sure I may have some things wrong there, again, it’s been a long time, and my memory fails me some.
    The wheels on this touring car are fantastic. The stock rims are hard to “true” so if you see a wobbly T, that is likely why.
    Thanks for the memory.

    Like 2

      My Dad always said “Henry thinks everyone has 3 feet” regarding the pedals

      Like 0
  8. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    I think it depends on the driveability of the car. If it can be driven under its own power, everything works like it should, and it’s safe to drive, then all you’d probably need is to get in, turn the key, crank it using the manual crank, and drive! :)

    Like 2
  9. Brock

    SBC that Bad Boy! Turn it into a slammed rat rodder with pipes sticking out of the hood. Ya!

    (Ok…just joking obviously). Wash, drive, repeat

    Like 1
  10. steve

    I’m sold…Now how to get it back to the east coast..IF the wooden wheels are sound….hmm….”Oh Honey?! You might want to pack a hat and a coat..We’re going to take a little road trip!……”
    You’d just have to remember to back up the really steep hills to keep the fuel flowing and the front bearing lubricated. I’d figure 10 days to 2 weeks of the best fun in your life. Hit a few national parks on the way…Awesome….

    Like 4
  11. Karl

    That is sure a nice looking “T” looks to be all there such as it is, I wonder where this will end at. And no I wouldn’t change a thing except the seat cover!

    Like 1
  12. Butch

    Most people wouldn’t know how to drive it, petals for forward and another for reverse and one to stop, Not like driving a regular car.

    Like 2
  13. Graham Line

    You can learn:

    As far as the car, “fix to run” like it used to say on the shop’s work orders.

    Like 1
  14. Ian

    A friend of mine here in the UK has one – around 1922 I think-ex Texas car. It lives in a garage in Central London and is a regular round town-though in the past week or so it’s clocked up 350 miles on mixed UK roads away from the city. ..just shows how practical they can be even today

    I saw it in Trafalgar Square last summer-well heard it first-that engine sounded great above the general hubub of London !!

    Like 3
  15. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Just slowly drive the neighborhood stopping to talk to everyone who might want to know about this wonderful old beauty.
    God bless America

    Like 4
  16. Bill Wilkman

    Find another Model T front seat cushion and install it for driving around town. Reinstall the original front seat cushion for car shows. Fantastic example of a car that remains just as it was built in the Ford factory. It would be a cardinal sin to restore this car.

    Like 4
    • Gay Car Nut Tacoma

      I have to agree. To completely restore a car, as if to museum quality, would be unforgivable.

      Like 4
  17. Jay E.

    OMG It sold for $8600.00! Crazy money for this car…

    Like 1
  18. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    I agree. Given its condition, I’d pay at least $1,500.00 for it.

    Like 0
  19. Jim Arndt

    Is it for sale ?,

    Like 0
  20. Jack Cadieux

    Is it still for sale ?

    Like 0

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