Following a period of change in its administration, the Model T Ford Register held a well-supported rally in mid-Wales early in September. Entries of 26 Ts and two twin-cylinder C-type Fords were set routes of some severity, totalling about 350 miles in the three days, and since the cars came from as far afield as Norfolk, Yorkshire and Devon, the presence of trailers was excusable.
At a reception by Smithfields Garage, Ford dealers in Builth Wells, I noted that rally organiser Arthur Pearce had come in his 1919 tourer and the Register’s president Mr Whiteway in his 1912 model. I was pleased to spot two young enthusiasts with female passengers in more sporting Ts — S Meakin’s a 1920 with shapely, homemade bulbous-tail body, plated outside-exhaust, aero-screens and no mudguards, F Croft’s an equally stark all-black 1922 Speedster with an SU carburettor, modern-style coil ignition, HC head, alloy pistons, 3.1 axle and 60 mph top-speed.
The Ford Motor Company’s own Model T took part and the commercial-vehicle side was represented by a 1922 pick-up, a 1922 7cwt van in the livery of K J Dalnare of Kensington, and a 1914 brass-radiator van.
Coming to more detailed spotting, C Beard’s 1913 Runabout had a “Bonjon” No 75 gas-generator for its carriage lamps, J Trett’s 1915 Roadster had the name “Pup II” on its radiator, A Stainer’s 1913 Roadster also had carriage lamps, and there were two late-type cars with wire wheels, of which M Lee’s 1927 tourer had the larger drum expanding “Rocky Mountain” brakes of the Roebuck axle (now insisted upon by USA insurers).
The chairman, Tony Chesters, invited my wife and myself to join the second-day lunch and dinner assemblies. He also kindly took us on the run to the Sanic Bryn Dam in his rare 1912 Town Car, the only surviving one from Trafford Park, which he has overhauled since finding it last year in Wolverhampton, where it had been stored since the 1930s.
The taxi-like Ford body with division and occasional seats has an enormously lofty two-piece windscreen but runs well, at 40 or more mph, although when some of the Welsh hills got it off top speed the pace dropped to a crawl, to the accompaniment of all the characteristic clatter and vibration. This of course was of little moment when the car was made, in more leisurely times.
It is a delightfully typical Model T, its tall dash cutting off half the short bonnet as one looks down on it from the front seat. Equipment includes a Stewart speedometer (the only instrument) and H&B generator for the non-original brass Edmunds Jones Mfg Co of Detroit model 466 headlamps, an oil rear lamp, and Firestone and Dunlop 30 31/2 tyres. After the rally it went home to Keighley in a fine covered trailer behind its owner’s Mercedes-Benz motor-caravan.
What better way of capturing the atmosphere of Edwardian days with Ford Model Ts, than being driven skilfully by Chesters in the autumn sunshine along deserted Welsh roads? This T’s 1915 engine (2.9litres, splash lubricated, thermo-syphon cooled), which does about 25-27 mpg, needed a little water after Caerwen.
The new Secretary of the register is Julia Armer, of 3 Riverside, Strong Close, Keighley, Yorkshire BD21 4JP. WB