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Vintage Speedster: 1915 Model T Custom Racer

On December 10, 1915, the millionth Model T rolled off the assembly line at Ford’s River Rouge plant in Detroit. The custom-built Model T offered here on eBay with bidding at just $2,413 at the time of publication, likely started life as a Runabout, rolling off that very same assembly line. But, as is obvious from the pictures, it’s been the beneficiary of careful restoration, tuning and mechanical work to create something extremely special. This 1915 Model T racer — purportedly built by Pete Eastwood — is a glimpse at what early gearheads would have done to their cars for racing and hillclimbing back in the day. In other words, this Model T is ground zero for American racers and weekend track warriors looking for thrills over and above the utilitarian goal of transport. Just look at it: it’s a spectacular example of the American spirit.

The seller reports that the 227 cubic inch inline-four was built by Larry Blair with a Sherman Super Fire 8:1 cylinder head, a 12-volt electrical system, custom intake manifold, and a Carter BB1 carburetor. As would be expected on a go-fast engine build, there’s an upgraded SCAT crankshaft, a modified Model A camshaft, upgraded exhaust and intake valves, custom pistons, Volkswagen 009 distributor, and Model A connecting rods. For the sake of convenience, a 12-volt WOSP starter was also installed. Manual and electric fuel shut-off valves are an added and important safety feature, especially for those intending to vintage race or demo it at local track days.
A peek into the cockpit of this racer reveals a bomber-style aluminum bucket seat. Also installed was an extended hand brake lever, much needed given how important that lever is to driving a T! The seller says the correct four-spoke steering wheel sits ahead of a wooden firewall (oh the paradox!) fitted with gauges for monitoring voltage and engine temperature. The latter two were added earlier this year. Given that there is no odometer, total mileage of this Model T is not known. But does that really matter? Nah!
The seller includes a very cool video of him driving the racer in his neighborhood. (You’ll probably note he’s definitely a Ford man given the T-bird in his driveway.) Those with an eye for detail will appreciate the additional walkaround video he provides, which also gives a better look at the matte black bodywork, brass radiator surround, custom exhaust header and polished hood (plus some additional cool Fords in the driveway). Aside from being a unique addition to any collection, this Model T racer is nothing less than a functional piece of American automotive history and definitely worthy of showcasing far and wide.


  1. sisuman Member

    This car was on BaT last week and didn’t meet reserve at $8,100. I can see why not. It’s a terrific build. However, there seem to be fewer and fewer people now that appreciate this type of car. And taking it anywhere requiring a freeway drive might be more “adventure” than most buyers today are looking for. However, I love it. My dad built speedsters like this during the depression, and there is a soft spot in my heart for them regardless of practicality.

    Like 16
    • Stephen Mostad Staff

      @sisuman — When cars like this don’t sell, I do wonder whether we’re at the confluence of a major shift in the classic car world, namely the insidious replacement of technical/mechanical obsession with an obsession for technology, a missing curiosity for maintenance and upkeep, a basic lack of understanding of how drivelines/manual transmissions work, etc. If I could, I would take this T-racer home in a heartbeat. It’s an amazing build! I happened to search out and then watch this instructional video on how to drive a Model T ( and wondered how many out there could actually get the logic, let alone the physical prowess, that underpins the engineering. It’s the kind of thing where practice makes perfect, but you can’t practice unless one’s in your garage!

      Like 12
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Wouldn’t buy any car with the fuel tank in the right seat. Cute but dumb.

    Like 1
    • Michael Garner

      I used to own an older 1946 Aeronca Chief with a 65 HP Continental engine. The fuel tank was built into the cowl right behind the engine and the mags. Yup. the gas tank would be in your lap if you augured in. Great flying little plane though. Just made my mind up not to think about the what if, and concentrated on making every landing one that you could walk away from with a smile.

      Like 6
    • Queequeg

      Where would YOU locate it, Bob?

      Like 2
      • bobhess bobhess Member

        Behind the passenger area over the rear axle. None of it is going to be super safe and it probably won’t be driven a lot but there’s no sense making it worse. A lot of the old original cars had the tanks mounted across the back behind the seats. Not great if wrecked or hit, events that should be avoided anyway if possible.

    • Steve RM

      That and the exhaust is on the other side. No thanks.

    • Stephen Mostad Staff

      What? No one said anything about a wooden firewall? LOL!!

  3. BlondeUXB Member

    Exhaust/fuel tank proximity could give new meaning to “God is my co-pilot”…

    Like 2
  4. Clipper

    I found a fair amount of historical info on this car here, including input from Pete Eastwood and (likely) the previous owner.

    As for the gas tank location…heh, the fuel tank on my old jeep is right underneath the driver’s seat (a “jack-in-the-box ejection feature?). And often they’re in the crush zone between the engine and driver. In other words… There are no airbags on these old girls :P

    Like 2
  5. Hot Rod Lincoln

    One must remember that the Model A Ford gas tank was the dash and the fuel gauge was mechanical that you looked at through a round piece of glass in the gas tank as part of the gauge cluster.

    Like 4
    • Kenn

      Yes, how in the world could Bob miss that, if he’s ever been interested in collector cars. Or old cars.

      Like 1
  6. bobH Member

    I remember when Pete put this together. Cool then, cool now. Of course, lots of changes to it. One of the first places Pete displayed it, was a Butler & Wright open house.

  7. Carbuzzard Member

    Yeah, the ad has a buy-it-now price of $17,000. The owner knows what he has and won’t let it drive away for less than he wants. Maybe at an estate sale?

    That said, as I kept reading the description of the car to my wife, she kept saying, “We’re not buying it.” Then I showed her the video and she kept saying, “We’re not buying it.” And then, “What would you do with it?” And I said, “Well, there’s the Pennsylvania hillclimb series,” and do they have a class you could run it in vintage racing?

    I wonder about the fuel tank. Why so large? How far are you going drive it anyway? The stock Model T fuel tank is mounted on the cowl. There’s no fuel pump. (A joke played on the novice mechanic’s helper was to send him to the auto parts store to ask for a Model T fuel pump. Boy, did they know how to have a good time back in the day).

    I would rather have a racing mechanic’s seat so you could share the fun. One of the duties of a racing mechanic was to pump up the air pressure in the fuel tank for that rear-mounted tank. He also had to make sure there was enough oil flowing into a non-pressurized lubrication system (not a problem with the Model T.

    This fuel tank is not to worry about. Crash this and you’ll be thrown out of at least burn’s harm way.

    I love the modifications to this T, the wow 8:1 compression ratio. I’ll bet it will go 50 mph with ease, though with a Ruxtell rear axle you’ll fly past a mile a minute. You’ll also, if you have any sense, scare yourself silly.

    Yeah, I want this. C’mon, Sugar, we can do this. 😘

    Like 3
  8. Oregonman

    The model T fuel pump joke reminds me of the old welding rod joke……send a rookie to the supply cage to pick up some “1109” welding rod

    • Wilbur Swanson


  9. tony t

    “with a Ruxtell rear axle ” ,,,, +8:1

  10. V8roller

    The seller has early-stage Parkinsons and is having to slim his collection. He also had a very nice Hotshot for sale a while ago.
    Glad this T made a good price, but it’s surprising that it did so on eBay which is usually a site for messers, and not on BaT.

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