Jump to content

Help Identifying Car from the 1910s (Possibly)

Derek Reaban

Recommended Posts

Ford in those years made continual changes to the cars, not following a precise model year. The 1915 and 1916 model years were basically much the same. However, numerous changes took place over the course of those two years. 

In the first place, FYI, except for the two "enclosed" body styles that began about September of 1914 (normal model year change), the basic open cars for 1915 were delayed by production difficulties concerning the new cowl design. Serious production of the '15 model year open cars did not begin until January of 1915. And did not reach full production until April of that year! The 1914 style open cars were actually produced by Ford factories into April of 1915. Only about six months production of 1915 style open cars had the brass trim on the lamps!

Among the several significant changes made during the year was the elimination of brass trim on the lamps. Beginning in early July of '15, Ford began sending cars from the factory with black painted steel rims (bezels) on the five lamps. Ford is famous for their crossover times when both earlier and later variations would be leaving the factory. The main factory might use both earlier and later variations for more than a month, with branch assembly plants using earlier variations for as much as another month or more. Black rims began showing up early in July '15, and by the end of August '15, MOST model T Fords leaving the factory had black rims. However, there is some fair evidence that occasional cars were leaving the factories with brass trim in late September.

Another minor change occurred to the seat upholstery. In 1915, the forward end-cap of the seat side/back was leather. And only that about three or four inches right at the front of the side (where it rolls over out and under). About January 1916, Ford eliminated that leather piece, using the "imitation leatherette" used on the rest of the upholstery at that time, and a small metal end-cap.

While the detail isn't really clear, I zoomed in to the picture. I can't be certain, but I am fairly sure this car has the leather on the forward end of the side of the seat. Between the black trim on the lamps, and the leather end-caps on the seat, this car was likely produced between July of '15 through January of '16.


Very nice photo! Thank you for sharing it here.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1937HD45, That is a very interesting sales folder! Notice that it shows the early versions of the couplet and center-door sedan. There is no small side window on the couplet's folding top (a feature added about mid-year 1915). And although a bit tough to make out, the sedan has the three panel visor/windshield used only on the true 1915 sedans. There are also subtle body lines differences from the '16 and later center-door sedans.

And while the early '15 style closed cars are shown, the towncar, touring car, and runabout, are all the 1914 style. As I mentioned earlier in my previous diatribe, The open car's new style for 1915 was delayed for several months while problems with the sheet metal stamping issues were "ironed" out. The brochure is interesting because Ford knew the new style was coming, the designs had been on the drawing boards for months, and even a few hand-built prototypes were built by August of 1914 (I have seen the photos, and could provide a link to where they can be found if desired). So they could have shown the new style in sales brochures early on if they wanted to. I have never seen this brochure before myself. I would surmise that Ford quickly produced these once the production problems reared their ugly heads. He likely wanted to show the new closed cars as well as push sales of the open cars without enticing people to wait for the new style to become available.


Interesting to note that many of the early 1915 style touring cars and runabouts used pieced together body panels! Early efforts to stamp the longer and more complicated side panels tended to buckle and fold badly, ruining the panels. They had a tendency to ruin either the front or the back of the panel. Speculation by several model T historians says that the good areas were salvaged, and likely along with short half panel stampings were pieced together for both touring cars and runabouts for much of the first year's production of the new style. My February 1915 runabout has such a pieced together body panels.


Dave Mellor, The 50/50 or "even folding" windshield was used on the 1915 style cars and on through 1916 into the first half of the newer yet black era 1917 model open cars. I don't know any specific month for that change, but somewhere around February I would think, they changed to an "offset" style hinge, that folded about two inches above the top of the lower glass. This when folded, held the edge of the upper windshield glass a couple inches above the top of the bottom glass. This in turn afforded a bit better protection for the car's driver and front passengers at "high" speeds!

A lot of original era photos can be found of early '17 models with the even folding windshield.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wayne Sheldon, You have one heck of a good memory. I use to read some of the Model T Ford publications and do remember articles on those years but would not have remembered it as well as you. I did look at a 1912 about a year ago. It was unrestored and in a basement since 1958. The engine had the right serial number for a 1912 but the car needed a ton of work and had other issues. The fellows son told me his dad wanted $5,000 on the phone. When I got there they changed the price to $15,000. I left it right there. 

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wayne, Thank you for all the 1915 T info, if you want me to get the illustrations from that sales brochure scanned I can, just PM me your address. Was the "1915" T windshield a one year only piece with the riveted to the bracket lower frame?  I don't know when I saw my first photo of a 1915 T or one at a show but it was around 1961 at age 10, one of the best looking Model T designs IMO, the '15 Center Door being the "Holy Grail".  Bob 


Edited by 1937hd45 (see edit history)
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 15/16 changes have been endlessly discussed on the Model T Club Forum and Wayne has nailed a lot of that very detailed info.  But-the photo is of a very "used" car and we don't know when it was actually taken. Who knows what has been replaced or perhaps painted over.  I looked closely at the side lamps on it and darned if I can say for certain whether the rims on them are tarnished brass or painted.   I believe it could be a 1915 or 1916. 


Model T 15 or 16 large.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey there Bob! The windshield you mention was used for about two years, slightly more. 1915 style open car production began very slowly, only about fifty '15 style runabouts were built in December of 1914. In January '15 somewhere close to two thousand of the new style touring cars and runabouts were built. So while the riveted brackets and even-folding windshield was produced during that time, the numbers of them were very low. That style windshield was used basically unchanged through the rest of the short 1915 year, all of 1916 open models, as well as the first few months of '17 model year production. So the early '15 into '17 open car windshield was used for slightly more than two actual years, but only about two years worth of production, although that style windshield was used in part of three model years. The mounting brackets were riveted to the lower frame throughout most of those two years. And although later "changes" could account for some even-folding windshields being bolted (instead of riveted) to the mounting brackets, a few photographs have been seen indicating a few early 1917 models may have left the factory that way.


The center-door sedan picture you show is a long time favorite. It is also one of the couple dozen "most photographed" individual model Ts (if you count reprints and publications).The fifteen millionth model T is widely considered the MOST photographed model T of all time (by a lot!). One of my long-time best friends had a different photograph of that same center-door car on his wall when I first met him over fifty years ago.

It, however, is not actually a 1915. It is one of at least two prototypes built by the Ford engineers in 1914. Pay special attention to the curved/ flat front fenders that were never used on a production model Ford in that era. The body is believed to have been a standard offering by one of several coachwork companies nearby, adapted to the Ford chassis. Notice also the cowl and hood former which are different than any production model T and the unusual gas headlamps. Nobody knows for sure how many c-d prototypes were actually built. We know at least two, because there is at least one photograph showing two of them, one up close, the other in the background. Numerous photographs however show different fenders, lamps, and other details. It is believed that the experimental team was changing such items to see how it would look.

It has been hinted that Henry Ford may have used one of the cars as his personal car for awhile, but nobody really knows for sure. I don't think anybody knows what actually happened to these prototypes either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bob, Yes, all the "true" 1915 c-d sedans had aluminum skin over wooden frame bodies. A bit under one thousand of them were made, and actually a surprising number of them still exist. Production began putting them out around September/October of 1914, and continued until about springtime in 1915 when the warehouse was nearly full of the unsold somewhat expensive cars. The price started out almost four hundred dollars over the cost of a touring car, and was cut early in 1915, but only a little bit. Production was halted, and Ford redesigned the car to cost considerably less for 1916 and beyond. For '16 and beyond, the bodies were steel skinned over wood frame.

It is interesting also to note, that when the Fordor sedan was introduced in 1923, Ford again went back to aluminum skin over wood frame. By mid '23, parts of the body again returned to steel, with more and more of it going to steel over the year. By 1924, only a few pieces were aluminum, and they gave way to steel by '25.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1916  Model T Touring 


This is a largely original example that was produced at the end of the 1915 run and beginning of the 1916 run.


I transported this car from California to Florida right before the Big C.







Edited by Trulyvintage (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...