Old School Speed: 1922 Ford Model T Speedster

Yes, it’s a Ford Model T and no, it’s not black. It’s a sharp-looking 1922 “Speedster”. It just makes you want to grab your goggles, hang on to your hat and step on it! And think of it, it’s almost a century old! Even 100 years ago, people were thinking about how to go faster than the other guy. Let’s look this one over, this Ford is located in Clarklake, Michigan and is available here on eBay for a current bid of  $6,100, reserve not yet met.

The model T pretty much started out looking like a horse-drawn buggy, without the horse. The Model T Speedster was an aftermarket concoction that first appeared in about 1913 and continued into the mid-’20s. According to Speedsters.com, the Model T was converted to a Speedster as follows: Usually, the chassis was lowered four inches, called “underslinging”, the wheelbase slightly extended, and the basic 40 HP motor “hopped up” with a Roof or RAJO Overhead Valve Conversion (OHV), a hot cam, balanced crankshaft with pressure oiling, and side-draft or up-draft carburetors. And of course, the stock body was replaced with a sharp-looking “Speedster Body” complete with a monocle windshield, and the heavy wooden wheels were replaced with strong and lightweight wire wheels. Some cars retained standard Ford wings and some did away with them altogether. Oh, and the “only black color” thing is a little misleading as between the T’s inception in 1908 and 1913, black was not a color option. Black did become the sole color in 1914, however.

The seller tells us this early Ford muscle car has been sitting in a climate-controlled garage for twenty years, but it has had a recent maintenance check-up and it runs strong on all four cylinders of its 177 CI, in-line engine, good for about 22 HP. The seller does not elaborate if this Speedster has undergone any of the usual modifications as suggested in Speedsters.com. Nevertheless, the engine and its two-speed transmission apparently work as intended.

The exterior of this Model T throws off a pretty cool aura. It has been dechromed (or debrassed as may be the case) with contrasting black trim working perfectly with the deep medium red finish. The seller states that the paint is flaking off of the cowl and the gas tank, but the exterior is still highly presentable and the paint damage can be fixed using a color matching system. I’m by no means an antique car aficionado but I can usually spot a Model T when I see one. This Speedster, however, threw me a bit of a curve as it wasn’t immediately recognizable. And where I would casually glance at a T, this Speedster has really caught my attention.

The interior’s black-finished steel, wood, and vinyl or leather upholstery is a beautiful thing. More than likely, the interior was restored some time ago and the twenty-year hiatus, in proper storage, has preserved it perfectly. This interior environment, which is actually as much an exterior as it is an interior, is about as basic and spartan an affair as one will find. Any extensive motoring, seated on this perch, was probably quite a challenge and an adventure at the same time.

This Speedster has multiple uses, it could be a nice inclusion in a collection, a business prop, or a cruiser to be used occasionally when the road and weather conditions permit. While the bidding is still in reasonable territory, it’s hard to speculate on the reserve. While I’d glance at a Model T, I think this Speedster would be actually fun to own, how about you?

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Comments

  1. William Shields

    A possible contender for The Race Of The Gentlemen?

    2
    • 63Comet

      That’s along the lines of what I was thinking. I like period style hot rodding (for whatever period). If all you want to do is go fast, break the bank and buy something new Mustang, Camaro, Charger, Corvette, etc. What I admire is people doing things the way they would have (or would’ve had to) back in the day and/or maintaining what was done at that time. Hopped up speedsters are cool for what they are. As for the regular model T’s–I’d rather have those hopped up too. Like the author, a stock one just doesn’t excite me much, and I tend to like FordMoCo stuff.

      2
    • Burger

      T’s are a whole other dimension in auto tech that just requires a brain scrambling of normal ways of thinking about autos. As an example, my hickory spoked wheels had worked themselves loose over 100 years to finally require a rebuild. How are you going to do THAT ? one might wonder. That’s right, … send them to your friendly local Amish wheel shop. Or in my case, not so local. But Noah does this kind of ancient science every day and for about the cost of any other old car wheel, they show up all crated and ready for paint, and bingo ! … I am ready for some heavy hauling again.

      Henry never balanced his engines, transmissions, or drivelines. Why would he ? The roads back then were rutted dirt or mud. Just how high could you wind up that old 4-banger ? Today, we EXPECT smooth paved roads, and ANY unbalanced engine is going to show its limitations when you got a nice pretty road and see where the throttle will take you. When I got my T, it about shook itself apart at 20mph. But with some speed tech and a careful balancing, and the old dog pulls hills it never could before, and the cops clocked me twice at 48 on flat ground. Not that I would recommend driving one at those speeds. But we were testing the thresholds after all the work was done. The real limitation on T’s is brakes, which in turn, are limited by the wheels, which are intrinsic to the overall aesthetic of a T. If you could put stout brakes on one, you’d snap the spokes off in a hard stop. One must always remember, these were built to run on mule tracks and turkey trails, and the answer to driving one today is rethinking HOW one drives and being hyper-vigilent toward other idiot drivers. I drive mine everywhere, but the best fun is had out in the backwater. This isn’t an option in many areas of the country, but where I live, I can go for hundreds of miles in any direction on quiet backwater roads where stunt drivers are not going to force me to “step on it”, which, incidentally, is the last ditch method T drivers use in a panic stop …. low gear, reverse, and brakes, all at once.

      5
  2. Tom c

    This would be cool to cruise around on a lazy summer day. Nice garage too !

    1
    • schooner

      Yeah, the old school A65 in the back works for me.

  3. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    If you have never driven a T, I would suggest you try one before you buy, , especially if you are dreaming about ” race” or “cruise” activities …The transmission is not like your Fathers Oldsmoblie, and takes a LOT of practice to learn to drive and have confidence in close quarters with other cars. .

    2
  4. Bob McK Member

    A friend of mine had a 26T that he bought when he was 16, in 1952 for $50. The car is in excellent condition. He taught me how to drive it, but I would never get behind the wheel in fear of hurting his baby. He recently passed. His daughter now owns it. But she doesn’t even know how to start it. But NO, it is not for sale… Good luck to her.

    2
  5. pwtiger

    OHV? Looks like a flathead to me

  6. Christopher A. Junker

    Looks like a miniature Mercer T35. There is a curator at Rochester’s George Eastman Photographic Museum that in good weather commutes in a Model T roadster. This one is lovely and deserves a good home.

  7. Burger

    There is no “stepping on it” with a Model T. The three pedal control low gear, reverse, and brakes. Step on any one of those and speed is not what you get.

    Model T driving is another world. Not just the car itself, but the whole world slows down around you when you are driving one. If you’re a speed idiot, then go wrap yourself around a power pole in a Chevelle. If you have what it takes to appreciate the world at 30, you are really going to enjoy owning and driving a T. It requires a whole new paradigm of expectations and how one sees having fun. I sold off nearly all my post-war go-fast cars after getting my first T. The experience is simply way more fun in an organic, driving, meeting people, kind of way.

    2
    • Jim ODonnell Jim ODonnell Staff

      Burger:

      It’s just an expression.

      JO

  8. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Reserve Not Met at high bid of $8,900.

  9. Kenn

    In high school I owned three “T’s” , one each in 1950, 1951 and 1952. Bought for $25 – $50, drove ’til something broke, scrapped it and bought the next. Fun to drive, my friends didn’t ask to borrow! Learned how to “work on cars” and developed an interest in that continues to this day. Don’t have a T currently, but have owned a 1930 A rumble-seat coupe since 1953.

    1

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