Survivor Driver: 1917 Ford Model T Touring

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At 105 years old, this exemplary 1917 Ford Model T touring car defies her age. With only two owners, and for sale here on craigslist, she stands out thanks to spiffy wheels, new tires, plenty of original paint, a new top, and refreshed mechanicals. The asking price is $18,500 but parsing the listing, it’s apparent that the seller will take an offer. Purchased new in San Jose, California, the car moved just a few miles away to Santa Clara where it resided most of its life. The seller believes this is a high-optioned car, with a large outside mirror, fuel gauge, and dual-mount spare tires. “In period” alterations include an electric starter, horn, and “desert cloth” interior panels to protect the originals. When this Tin Lizzie plied the roads, it’s likely she had plenty of company: over 15 million were sold. Many thanks to T.J. for this fine tip!

The seller indicates that the second owner had the 20 hp 177 ci motor rebuilt, re-cored the radiator, attended to the brakes and bearings, and replaced the water pump and gas tank. Speaking of gas! In the early 1900s, gas was scarce and expensive, so drivers were known to feed ethanol and kerosene into Henry’s engine, to no ill effect. The transmission used planetary gears – three total, but one of those was reverse. The only way to drive a steep hill was to back up, partly to surmount fuel starvation, and partly because reverse offered more power than either forward gear. And when you’re done backing up hills, expect to reach a top speed of about 40, though the seller states that even 35 mph is pretty terrifying. That said, this car runs and drives well after its mechanical renovation.

The interior – like the exterior, radiator shroud, and top – is black. According to Henry Ford, black paint dried fastest, and matching the color was easy. Strong sales midway through the Model T’s production run inspired Henry to find every way possible to shove more cars out of his factories – the black color scheme was just one of those ways. After about 1925, other colors were available. This photo shows off the new top.

Underneath, the car’s desert heritage shows, as it’s about as clean and dry as a car could be. The seller indicates that surface rust is present, but no perforations mar Lizzie’s skin. Model T prices have been creeping up. Restored examples can sell in the $20k area, even higher if the body style is a runabout. But driver-quality cars can be had for less than $15k. Do you think the market will grant this example a premium for originality? Or will it sell for a project-car price?

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  1. Pete R.

    Just add some flubber and this thing will fly! 😂

    Like 7
    • Ira

      It has new tires

      Like 0
  2. Howie

    Look up the word patina in the dictionary and you will see a photo of this car.

    Like 6
  3. Grant

    I love this car, but 18.5K? I remember when these could be bought for 50 bucks, running, just like this one. Of course, that was 50 years ago, so lets say 300 bucks in todays money. To ne that is a fair price. I want this to go to some young person who will work on it and love it, but it is priced for some person in the 1% who will have a crazy expensive resto done on it (by someone else, of course) and it will go into some huge collection. When will this all stop? Will it ever go back to what it once was (and should be)?

    Like 9
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      It’s the devaluation of the dollar. It’s not so much that the cars are more valuable or better or more collectible or anything like that, it’s just that one dollar is worth so much less.

      Like 14
      • Jay E.Member

        It is a shame that we don’t always use devaluation of the dollar, rather than “inflation” to describe the change in the value of an item.It makes what is going on so much more understandable.
        18K for this Model T is probably 50% to high, the seller will find this out.

        Like 6
      • Grant

        My 300 bucks is indexed for inflation. 18 grand is what someone thinks the market will bare, and that is called speculation, not devaluation of the dollar. We have not been on the gold standard for decades. All currency is worth what ever a government tells you it is worth. The present prices in my opinion have nothing to do with the previewed value of the dollar but as a result of a small percentage of the population with a disproportionate slice of the pie and with cash to burn. And that is coming from a man who did very well in the economy the past 50 years.

        Like 4
    • Evan

      You’re correct. My mortgage should also be $300/month.

      Like 6
    • karl

      $300 ???? C’mon , this isnt 1960 ! You couldn’t buy a running model T for $50 in 1973, unless it was a complete pile.

      Like 6
  4. Jason

    Did the Beverly Hillbillies finally move on to a new ride?

    Like 3
  5. Greg B Greg BMember

    Come and listen to a story ’bout a man named Jed
    Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed
    Then one day he was shooting for some food,
    And up through the ground come a bubbling crude
    (Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea)
    Well the first thing you know old Jed’s a millionaire
    Kin folk said Jed move away from there
    Said California is the place you oughta be
    So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly
    (Hills that is, swimming pools, movie stars)

    Come on, you know that’s the first thing you thought when you saw it 😂😂

    Like 5
    • TheOldRanger

      Yep, sure did !! Maybe Jethro needs a “date car”….

      Like 2
    • Kim in Lanark

      Naw, that was for the Olds truck a few listings down. IIRC the Beverly Hillbillies truck was based on a late 20s Olds.

      Like 4
      • Charles Marks

        1921 Olds Model 46

        Like 2
  6. KurtMember

    So how well did those wheels hold up? How would one rebuild them? I’ve wondered that about all old wooden wheels.

    Like 2
    • Cobra Steve

      Wheels are reasonably robust. My ’23 Touring has wood-spoked wheels and IIRC, replacements are made by the Amish. When I added the T to my collection about two years ago, my friends thought I lost my mind! I replied by saying it is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. Besides, 35-40 mph on wood-spoked wheels is exhilarating! The club tours are tons of fun…I encourage everyone to consider T ownership.

      Like 8
  7. John C

    Great old jalopy for parades! Just buff it out a little bit.

    Like 2
  8. dogwater

    Days gone by the value of these old things have dropped people like to look at them in a museum not drive them.

    Like 0
  9. CarbobMember

    The B-hillbilly truck was a 1921 Oldsmobile truck. And it resides today in a the Ralph Foster museum. Check it out on You Tube. I never knew Oldsmobile made trucks. This is another neat part of this site. The comments about the Beverly hillbillies vehicle led me to read about it because I wanted to refresh my recollection of the sofa in the bed for Granny and Elly May to sit on. As a adolescent car nut in 1962 when this program debuted; I was fascinated not only with Donna Douglas but the Clampett mobile. As to this 1917 ModelT, the seller seems like a person who really wants someone to be a good caretaker for the old gal in the future. I hope she goes to a good home.

    Like 2
    • DON

      The Olds 46 was made into a truck , I believe it started life as a touring car and was made into a truck when it wasn’t worth much. I read it was found behind a Fruit store in CA. where it had been sitting for years

      Like 1
  10. R.Lee

    Awesome original, this is the way you buyem. Unmolested and with a little care and use you have a car that at one time were hundreds of thousands driving around until they became obsolete.

    10 years ago a car like this would get 8K. And the parts market in original parts and aftermarket are a plentiful source. Why? Because they are all gone, and not many survived to use all the parts that are available. I still see shelves full of original parts, Too bad that the parts will never be used.

    I really dig this ride, and would give 8K but that is it. Like that has been said before, at some point reality has to set in. But if you can get 20K for it make it happen.

    Like 2
  11. Bill

    The collector car market is now owned and run by investors….pushing prices unrealistically high.
    The younger generation coming up tends to have less interest in this hobby so it will be interesting to see when the older generation is gone, what happens to prices.
    The future will have less people interested in this hobby and there will be lots of supply compared to the demand…perhaps prices will return to normal and investors will be seen running the other way….

    Like 2
    • Cobra Steve

      Absolutely spot on, Bill. Most of these investors don’t know the difference between a torque wrench and a crescent wrench. That’s why I believe some of the more common older vehicles are the best buy. Then again, whoever thought anybody in their right mind would pay $160K+ for a Volkswagen Type II microbus?

      Like 2
  12. AutoArcheologist AutoArcheologistMember

    Hi All,
    I’m selling this car for the owner. Those of you who have made market price comments aren’t far off the mark.
    In my research, I told the owner where we would be, market wise, and asked him what he had in mind and what he hoped we might get for her. He said, “well, after my purchase price, I have another 8+ thousand into her.. I would love to get $18,000 for her, I don’t expect that, but I’d sure love to get it lol”
    The fact she’s so original gives her some provenance along with only two owners. Heck, the family that owns Tiffany Ford in Santa Clara remembers this car coming in for service in the 50’s!
    So, we posted the price where it is, but are totally open to offers. Although I know he won’t take $8000 for her, he might go for 10,000. If someone offered that, I’d surely take that offer to him.
    This car is also in the Barn Find classifieds and on my website:

    There are about 300 photos and several videos.
    Feel free to reach out with any questions.

    Like 9
  13. Danny V. Johnson

    I know this doesn’t have much to do with the Model T, in this article. The Clampett’s TV prop truck was mentioned so I got curious. I’d heard the is was created by George Barris and sure enough it was.

    “Responsibility for creating the Clampetts’ truck fell to Hollywood customizer George Barris. According to Barris TV & Movie Cars, Barris was asked to design a suitable vehicle for a hillbilly family. Barris found a 1921 Olds behind a feed store in nearby Fontana, California.

    By the way, if I had that Model T, in running condition, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. To me and I’m an automotive artist, it’s perfect, rolling history and rolling sculpture.

    Like 2
  14. George Birth

    Beverly Hillbillies Special!!!!! A neat old car but too expensive for my pocketbook.

    Like 0

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