Affordable Project: 1923 Ford Model T Fordor

Although it was becoming evident by 1923 that their competitors were producing more modern vehicles, the affordability of the venerable Model T meant that Ford set a new sales record. It was the only year during its long production run where the total exceeded two million cars. The high survival rate demonstrates that Henry Ford struck gold with his engineering principles. This 1923 Fordor requires total restoration, but it’s a solid candidate that runs and drives. For an enthusiast seeking an affordable first project, it could be a strong candidate. It is listed here on eBay in Lombard, Illinois. The BIN of $5,500 looks competitive, although there is the option to make an offer.

One aspect of the Model T’s life that sends some heads spinning is the sheer variety of body styles offered by the company. Buyers could order a Runabout, a Roadster, a Touring, a Delivery, and even a Flatbed. Within those broad categories, there seemed to be an endless variety of options, allowing buyers to tailor their new purchase to their specific needs. This car’s original owner selected the Fordor derivative that offered comfortable seating for up to six people and excellent weather protection. Its overall condition shows promise, with no rust or other nasty issues. Its Black paint has aged, but if the new owner wished to retain the vehicle as a survivor, its presentation is up to the task. The seller fitted new roof timbers and a new top, with the remaining wood in good order. They indicate one wheel has bad spokes, and it would pay to have them all professionally inspected to avoid future dangerous failures. A couple of windows are broken, but the rest of the glass is fine. The headlamps need new lenses, but the overall impression is that apart from the wheels, any required tasks could be tackled in a home workshop.

One aspect of the “T” requiring love is its interior. It is intact, but the upholstery has seen better days. The buyer could throw blankets over the seats as a short-term solution, but they will eventually have to bite the bullet and spend the money on a retrim. There are several ways they could jump, from the DIY approach to buying a complete kit. The first option would be the cheapest, provided someone is skilled with a sewing machine. Complete kits retail for around $2,800, and while that isn’t cheap, the history of this car suggests it could last another hundred years. If that proves the case, that makes it worth the investment. If the buyer undertakes a restoration, the painted surfaces and wheel will require a refresh to match the rest of the interior.

The Model T was a “one size fits all” proposition from Day One until the last car rolled off the production line. Its engine bay housed the mighty 177ci flathead four that produced 20hp. Henry Ford firmly believed in the importance of simplicity, employing a two-speed planetary transmission that required minimal maintenance. Under favorable conditions, a Model T could hit 42mph, although the car was happier sitting around 30mph – 35mph. Such was the ruggedness of these motors that Ford continued production until 1941, although the final engines were generally for stationary or pump duties. This Fordor runs and drives, with the seller providing this YouTube video as proof. It needs a few items addressed because the low gear band has worn beyond its adjustment point, requiring replacement. There are minor fluid leaks, the exhaust is bad, and the tires are rotten. Once again, if the buyer shows some patience, they could tackle most of these tasks themself.

Next year, this 1923 Model T Sedan will celebrate its one-hundredth birthday. I can’t think of a better present than returning it to its former glory. It may not be the most glamorous classic, but the fact it has survived for a century suggests it could repeat the feat if the new owner treats it respectfully. That could make it an excellent heirloom to hand down from one generation to the next. It may not be the first thought that enters your mind, but it’s a point worth pondering.


  1. cccruisers

    I’m beginning to worry about historical vehicle restoration as this economy gets bad. As money gets tight, and many of us who cherish the older vehicles feel the crunch of rising health care bills and inflation, what is to become of our vehicular national treasures? This Model T cries out for a restoration. Who has the spare cash to do so?

    Like 8
  2. Jay E. Member

    The 6th photo on Craigslist should be in B/W. It would be very period with the gas pumps and barn design of the garage. Harder to find body style makes that a bit more desirable as a practical driver, but practical doesn’t enter into Model T descriptions anymore. There is nothing practical about owning or trying to drive one of these, other than the low cost of having them sit in your garage. Priced about right, it has some room for simple repairs if performed yourself. If you take it to a shop, just the band, wheel and tires, glass and a tune will probable tap that out. No way to pay to have an interior installed and come out ahead. I like this listing, but T’s aren’t for me anymore. Too much hate and distractions, even on the country roads I live on. Oh, and the period patina old leaded purple headlight glass will set you back several hundred, if you can find them.

    Like 2
    • The Other Chris

      Yeah, this is a parade and trailer it to a show car at this point. Kinda sadly, but realistically.

      Like 2
  3. TheOldRanger

    When I was a kid in Kansas, Wichita used to have a “parade day” once a year where all these old cars drove through the downtown area out to Eastborough and we would sit on a curb and watch the parade go by. I loved these old cars even back then, and a few of my favorites was a 1903 Reo and a 1913 Stutz Bearcat… I also liked the 1937 Cord…. there was just something that made those cars special, back in those days.

    Like 6
  4. David Frank David Frank Member

    There is no reason to let your T just sit. A number of members of the local Model T club drive their T’s everywhere. However, one should learn to drive one before considering a purchase. Some people never do get the hang of it. Hit the pedal on the right to go and you’re reminded it’s the brake pedal! Hit the brake pedal and you’ll notice the scenery receding right before you back into something. LOL! They are a hoot to drive with a little practice!

    Like 5
  5. Brian

    I think most of you would be shocked to find out how many folks still drive these cars everywhere. I work on them almost every day and many times I am not brave enough to drive an antique car where my customers do without a second thought or issue. Local Model T clubs and chapters of the Model T club international have tours all summer and Fall often putting on over a hundred miles a day.

    Like 3
  6. Steve RM

    It’s to bad there’s more supply then demand. These Ts are cheaper now then when I was a kid in the 70s. For somebody looking for a driver and something to tinker on though this might be a good start.

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