We’ve all heard the phrase “Keep on trucking.” But it begs the question of where we started trucking. It very well might have been the cargo hauling version of the venerable Model T Ford.
The Model T Ford was the first mass produced vehicle using Henry Ford’s moving assembly line. The increased efficiency over handmade cars made the Model T affordable to the growing American middle class. A Model T could be bought for $260 to $850. Often, that was a few months of wages for the average middle-class family.
Popularly known as the “Tin Lizzy,” the Model T sported a 4-cylinder engine cranking out 20 horsepower and a top end speed of around 40 to 45 miles per hour. One of its biggest early competitors had only 1 to 4 horsepower, because said competition was a horse or a wagon pulled by horses. The car operated with the throttle on the steering wheel, a three-speed transmission (If you count reverse) and rear wheel drive.
Henry Ford wanted to democratize the car and get wheels under Americans, and he absolutely succeeded. The first Model T was delivered in October of 1908, and production continued until May of 1927. During that time, an estimated 15,000,000 Model Ts were made.
And they were made for a myriad of applications. Along with models like a five- seat touring car, a seven-seat town car, and a two-seat runabout, many were made for work purposes for maintenance men, farmers and delivery drivers like the ones up for auction. Other applications included race cars, off-road vehicles, and even railcars. The Model-T engine even showed up on early powerboats.
Along the way, the Model T became a beloved rattletrap both mocked and memorialized in fiction, song and poetry. Such artistic endeavors ingrained the Model T in American culture that continues to have a love affair with cars of all kinds.