Nostalgia Racer: 1923 Ford Model T Altered

The lives of road cars and race cars can be vastly different. Where a road car can soldier on for decades, a race car will usually only serve as a useful tool until the next “latest-and-greatest” machine takes its place. That means that many of these cars are discarded to make way for these inevitable upgrades. They usually see out their days in sheds or barns, or they will be dismantled for any useable parts, with the remains being sent off for scrap. However, this 1923 Ford Model T Altered has avoided that fate, and its owner has returned it to active duty. He has decided to part with this remarkable classic, so he has listed it for sale here on eBay. It is located in Fairview, Oregon, and while the bidding has reached $11,900, the reserve hasn’t been met.

The owner of this Ford is pretty candid about it. He says that it is not perfect, but even though he refreshed the car in 2015, it retains all of the feel and character that it would have possessed when it first hit the strip back in the 1960s. Its history is not clear, but the tubular steel chassis is original. The owner says that while some of the welds look a bit rough, the car is rock-solid. He uses it for regular competition work, and it has never had any issues passing tech inspections. That means that eagle-eyed scrutineers have had no problems with the build quality of the car. Draped over the chassis is a fiberglass body, and apart from a single crack in the rear deck, it is in good condition. The owner has laid on a deep shade of green paint that contains lots of metal-flake. It looks good in the sunlight, but I suspect that it would look spectacular under lights. In a bid to retain as much of its nostalgic appeal as possible, all of the signage has been handpainted. This was the most common way things were done when this car was initially built, and while recreating that look in vinyl is possible today, the owner has chosen to be as faithful as possible to the look and feel of the 1960s. The Altered rolls on a set of vintage magnesium wheels, which are in excellent condition. These are fitted with a relatively new set of M&H slicks on the rear and Goodyear Super Eagle tires up front.

Sometimes potential buyers can find the thought of purchasing any race car to be daunting. We’ve all heard stories about how these vehicles can become bottomless pits of time and money and of old jokes about how the best way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a large fortune. This prospect drives many potential owners away from the sport before they can even begin, but that shouldn’t be the case with this Altered. The drivetrain is about as bulletproof as they come, and it offers the promise of plenty of enjoyable competition miles without the need to apply for a second mortgage. It is powered by a 327ci Chevrolet V8 that is backed by a manual-shift Turbo 350 transmission and a Tri-Five Posi rear end. The owner has equipped the V8 with Hillborn injection, Zoomie headers, and an electric water pump and cooling fan. The transmission features a functioning reverse gear, and the owner says that the car can be driven to the line under its own power. Thanks to the water pump and fan, it can also sit and idle without cooking itself. The owner has recently had the injection system rebuilt by Hillborn, and he says that this is not a demanding racer. Potential buyers shouldn’t be worried about hours of tweaking and tuning before each event, as the car is a low-maintenance turn-key classic. It also offers exhilarating performance. It easily clocks 6-second passes on the ⅛-mile at 110mph. That doesn’t make it the fastest thing on four wheels, but it is still impressive for the type and age of this classic racer.

The interiors of race cars are not designed with long-term comfort in mind. These are practical environments that contain only the essentials. Forget carpet and air conditioning. Anything that adds weight or saps performance is deemed surplus to requirements by the builder and is consigned to the trash. What the buyer will be getting for their money is a body-hugging race seat, a racing harness, some essential switches and gauges, and little else. The interior of the Altered appears to be period correct and is in excellent condition. The owner says that he has no issues with squeezing under those hefty rollbars, even though he is 6′ tall. He has also managed to get taller drivers in there, so potential buyers should find that reassuring. I can’t see any problems here, but I will say one thing from experience. Race cars can look tempting from the outside, but your perspective changes once you slip into a seat surrounded by a network of bars. They quickly transform from tempting to addictive, and owners find themselves longing for the next meeting where they can get their next adrenaline “fix.” Those who have done it know what I mean, and those that haven’t need to experience it for themselves.

While so many cars like this 1923 Ford Model T Altered were left to languish, historic racing machinery has become more desirable over the past couple of decades. Once considered as fit for scrap as technology overtook them, these cars have now become highly-prized by enthusiasts. This Altered isn’t the first classic racer that we’ve seen here at Barn Finds, and you can be sure that it won’t be the last. If you feel like you would like to recapture the feel of the swinging 60s, this could be a car that is worth a closer look.

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    At this point in time it would be more at home going to shows or making passes at a nostalgia race rather than a more competitive bracket race. It will be limited to 10.0 or 134.9 and slower, unless the chassis will certify, which it likely won’t. This car will get a lot more respect from people that have spent any time at a track than phony Gassers which seem to be everywhere. If the reserve isn’t to high, it this will be a fun and versatile car as long as long as the new owner doesn’t plan on driving it on the street.

    Steve R

  2. Jcs

    This is the definition of cool.

    Like 4
  3. Desert Rat

    If I hadn’t already built myself a 32 roadster I would buy this thing and make it street legal. Which would require very little work and money compared to what I’ve put in to my 32 hotrod project and what a blast this little rod would be to drive to the local car get to gather.

    Like 5
  4. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    As a boy in the 50’s my brother and I would look through magazines picturing home built hot rods. Most looked similar to this, except they were built from model T buckets or model A’s. They all had a lot of chrome on the engines and suspension components and we thought they were the coolest things ever. Most were powered by flat head v8 engines, but some had later model overhead valve v8’s from Oldsmobile, Cadillac or other built up engines. Some had the 671 blower in chrome sitting high on top. Just a little nostalgia from my childhood. Thank you barn finds.
    God bless America

    Like 3
  5. Tort Member

    I was fortunate to be of the age when the Model T buckets , Anglia”s and Fiat’s altereds were popular and raced at most drag strips around the country. Have to credit to all those that got behind the wheel of one those monsters many with much more power than this one that I am sure was a handful.

    Like 2
    • Jon Rappuhn

      I’m probably close to the same generation you are, started going to drags in late 50’s. Loved seeing the AA/FA’s and short wheelbased slingshots, as well as the rest of the classes. The altered’s always put on a show. And yes, it did take brass ones, have an idea most of the drivers just hoped they went straight and upright. Would much rather pay to see the nostalgia races then the million dollar shows of today.

      Like 1
  6. Howie Mueler

    Very cool!! Over $14k now but reserve still not met. I hope it sells.

    Like 1
  7. chrlsful

    where can U race others ofa similar ilk on Right Coast?

  8. vintagehotrods

    Funny thing, the headers are weedburners and they actually are mounted upside down.

    Like 1

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