During twenty years of production (1908-1928) the Ford Motor Company produced a lump of 16.6 million Model T motor cars. A staggering number that still affords the Model T a place on the listings for most produced automobiles of all time. Ford built them quickly and cheaply to get Americans out on the road. Fast forward another twenty years, and you will find the popularity of the Model T is still lofty. Although America had long-since gained her license to drive and laid the pavement to do so, the soldiers returning home from the second world war discovered a reinvigorated passion for automobile modification and the Model T was the perfect starting point. With a surplus of spending money and spare parts from the mass-produced Model T inexpensive, ideas for enhancements to the platform took root and formed the foundation of hotrodding.
Today on our auction block is a starling showcase of how early hotrodding and racing merged. The 1922 Ford Model T we have was initially built together and completed in 1948 by Tommy Garland of Buellton, California. Transformed from a coupe into a roadster the Model T was shaved of weight and heavily modified for dirt track racing, which it heavily competed in during the six years after its birth. Driving at tracks such as Old Ascot, Thunderbowl, Bakersfield, Porterville, and Lompoc, the Model T saw success. Still sporting its authentic 1950s blue livery complete with hand-painted numbers, sponsors, and the driver tag Chuck Hulse, who piloted this craft a decade before his years racing in the USAC Championship Car series this fast Ford is a time capsule.
Unfortunately, by the mid-1950s the roadster was ready for retirement. Placed into storage for thirty years the roadster was eventually put into a museum collection until 2016. RM Sotheby’s sold the car to the current seller who immediately turned it over to renown hotrod restoration expert Jimmy Shine. One hundred hours were put into the repairs and rehabilitation work that reinvigorated the mechanical components and discreetly added some engineering improvements. Under Shines watchful eye the brakes were restored, and the shock absorbers were also rebuilt. A few significant welds were refinished then aged to match the current state of patina. However, there are still several small areas of rust. Included with the sale are the original red painted wheels with dirt track tires from the 1950s plus the current gold painted mesh wire wheels that have new dirt track tires installed.
Originally Ford had an inline-four motor installed to a two-speed transmission that reportedly produced around 20 horsepower in 1922. During the original hotrodding that engine was replaced by a 270ci straight-six GMC motor with a triple Stromberg carburetor setup. Meanwhile, the two-speed transmission was discarded for a three-speed plus reverse unit that was rebuilt during Shines revival process. At the same time, a 12-volt electrical system was wired in to allow for an electrical ignition system with starter, electric fuel pump, and electric fan radiator to be added. The seller notes that when very hot the motor does produce a water leak, but that it quickly subsides as temperatures come back within tolerances.
Upon completion of the restoration work, the Model T was taken out to Ventura Raceway by the current owner and turned over to multi-national dirt track champion Wally Pankratz. Professional photographs were taken as the roadster roared away in anger for the first time in decades. Hop Up magazine would later feature an article about the Model T and a copy of the magazine will be included with the purchase. So if you are ready to strap yourself into the bare metal bucket seat of a real vintage racer and feel the same rush as Chuck Hulse and Wally Pankratz, this is the car to have the keys too.