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1915 Ford Model T: XCAR goes back in time

XCAR had the opportunity to drive the car that started it all, the Ford Model T. It was the car that mobilized the planet and laid the way for the cars we drive today.

Alex Goy
Alex Goy is an editor for Roadshow. He loves all things on four wheels and has a penchant for British sports cars - the more impractical the better. He also likes tea.
Alex Goy
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XCAR had the opportunity to drive the iconic Ford Model T. This was the car that started it all and put mankind on the road.

The Ford Model T was built in 1915.

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That makes is nearly 100 years old.

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You'd expect it to be a bit ropey as a result, but it really isn't.

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Model Ts are notoriously tricky to drive. That's thanks to a novel pedal layout.

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The clutch is actually low and high gear, the brake is reverse and the throttle pedal is the brake...

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The handbrake has three positions - furthest back is the actual handbrake, middle puts it in low gear and further forward engages high gear.

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Then your indicator is the throttle and the wiper stalk is the engine timing. Oh, and the temperature gauge is in the figurehead (pictured). It's hard to see.

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Learning to drive it is an experience in itself.

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The steering is wobbly...

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...brakes vague...

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...and performance is, erm, a word.

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The Model T was a hugely successful car.

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It was fast, capable off-road and, most importantly, affordable.

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Its price meant that people all over the world could buy one - it transformed the landscape.

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Those who couldn't afford to travel before, found themselves free.

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At one point, over half the cars in the US were Model Ts.

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It was made from light-but-durable Venedium Steel and mechanically it was simple.

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That meant it was easy to maintain and fix - an important aspect of the car, because those who bought them may not have been technically-savvy.

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Before the Model T, the road network was pretty sketchy. After they became popular it improved to meet demand.

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Ford's car was so popular he had to abandon traditional manufacturing techniques.

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Thanks to inspiration taken from a meat-packing plant, he streamlined the production process.

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Each person in the factory had just one job to do. They'd do their bit and hand it on to the next guy.

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Soon there was an automated production line with a belt that ran at 6ft a minute, saving more time per car.

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As a result the time taken to build a Model T dropped from 12 1/2 hours to just 93 minutes.

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As well as taking less time, it cost less to produce as well.

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Ford passed these financial savings on to the consumer - more people could buy them and more cars could be sold.

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The T was used during WWI.

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And all over the place, come to think of it.

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Without the Model T, the processes used to build cars would be different to the ones we use now. It's was revolutionary.

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