Model T Fords Built in Canada Part 1

Ford initially contracted with a company known as the Walkerville Wagon Works in 1904 to accomplish assembly of 1904 Ford AC vehicles in Canada, necessary to avoid taxes on imported vehicles. Ford ultimately purchased Walkerville Wagon Works and built a huge manufacturing complex on the site in order to carry out full scale manufacturing of the entire vehicles.

Ford was the world’s leading manufacturer of automobiles by the time the Model T began production near the end of 1908. Early in the history of Ford Motor Company a Canadian businessman, Gordon McGregor, wanted to invest in the Ford Motor Company. McGregor was the owner of the Walkerville Wagon Works located on a large parcel of land on the south shore of the Detroit River. Most of us think of Canada as being North of the USA. In fact Walkerville (known as Windsor today) was entirely south of Detroit, with the Detroit river separating downtown Detroit from what was then a tiny Canadian town.

Ford of Canada was set up as a sister company to Ford Motor Company in the USA. Initially Henry Ford owned a little more than 10 percent of Ford of Canada. Other investors, including McGregor, owned the rest. Ford of Canada was given the task of supplying Ford vehicles to the world excluding the USA, Britain, and Ireland. This started with Walkerville producing around 100 Model AC cars in 1904 built from parts manufactured at Ford vendors in the USA as Ford did not manufacture anything in those days, Ford designed and assembled cars.

An aerial view of the Ford Walkerville complex in the 1930’s.

By the time Model T production began at Walkerville most parts of the car, excluding the engine and transmission parts were being made in Canada, either by vendors or at the Walkerville Ford plant. A town grew up around the plant known as Ford City.

Residents of Walkerville voted to change the name of the city to Windsor in 1934. Not everyone agreed.
A 1909 Model T Ford in the Canadian Automotive Museum. The windshield was an accessory available either from Ford of Canada or from various sources in the era. Canadian Model T’s would standardize on 30 X 3 1/2″ tires on all four wheels by 1910. This car is equipped with an accessory spare tire bracket which blocks the driver from entering or exiting on that side.
Canada had some provinces with cars driving on the LH side of the road while others were like the United States. Confusing! As a result some Canadian built Model T’s have RH drive like this 1911 runabout that was for sale on eBay a few years ago.
Things get crowded with RH drive but it all fits.
Fenders on early (pre – 1913) Canadian Model T’s have what is called a double bead. Very distinctive and not reproduced.
Street scene in Vancouver showing a nearly new Canadian built right hand drive 1912 touring parked behind another early teens car – Huppmobile maybe?
Beginning with 1913 model year the Canadian built Model T Fords had serial numbers beginning with C. Prior to this serial numbers were assigned in batches to Canadian production by Ford in Highland Park Michigan .
Patterns for engine castings were made at Highland Park. The “Made in USA” logo was deleted from patterns sent to Canada so that the castings (made in Canada) had a faint rectangle showing where the word plate had been removed. This is a 1914 Canadian engine that someone decided to paint in a lovely earth tone. Originally Canadian engines were painted black just like the ones sold in the rest of the world.
Canadian Model T bodies have doors on both sides to accommodate the steering column position confusion. This is a 1913 runabout.
Not many Canadian town cars were built. 1917 was the final year for town car production in both Canada and the USA.
Canadian prices were higher than the same car in the USA. These prices are in Canadian dollars.
Ford was still the most popular car in the world when this advertisement was made in 1919.
Canadian Model T Ford bodies evolved differently than the cars built in the USA. Here is a group of new 1921 tourings shown in a Vancouver Island warehouse. Notice the different slanted windshields and different rear windows compared to USA built Fords of the same year.
Another 1921 – 23 Canadian Model T Ford touring.
Then as now it’s hard to get the kids to look the right way for pictures. This young family has two Model T’s in the driveway, an early 1920’s Canadian touring and a closed car.
Model T Fords built in Canada were exported to many countries around the world both as complete cars and as parts to be assembled in Ford of Canada owned assembly plants. This early 1920’s Canadian touring was sold new in Sweden. Notice the nickel plated radiator shell and headlight rims – these options were not available on USA built Fords at that time.

The 1919 – 1922 Model T Ford

After January 1, 1919 the center door sedan was built only with an electric starter, battery and full charging equipment. The price was $875, Ford built nearly 25,000 of them as popularity of the closed Fords kept increasing. We have no data as to how many were built prior to the introduction of the self starter, but it was likely about 1/2 the total amount sold for the fiscal year. Note the demountable treaded tires. All four are 30 X 3 1/2″ size, and a spare tire carrier with spare rim was included. Tires were white sidewall both inside and out, with black treads. Bale design door handles were used on closed cars until 1921.

We have decided to combine the model years 1919 – 1922 because the cars were built mostly the same for the entire period after January 1919. The 1919 fiscal year began in August 1918. Model T’s built from August 1, 1918 until January 1919 were essentially the same as late 1918 Model T’s.

The big news in January 1919 was a new engine block with provisions for mounting a generator driven by the camshaft gear. Along with the new engine block and generator were a complete electrical system including an ammeter, battery, and electric starter. To allow the starter to be used a new flywheel assembly was designed which incorporated a ring gear which was driven by the electric starter.

Continue reading “The 1919 – 1922 Model T Ford”

The 1917 – 1918 Model T Ford

Usually we try not to combine model years when describing a Model T because there are typically a lot of differences. In this case we have more things that did not change than those that changed. We will carefully explain those things that did change so that you can see the differences between 1917 and 1918 model years.

Our 1917 runabout wearing its original paint and interior. The car had about 1800 original miles and had been stored by the original owner from 1920 – 1951 in a garage in Hastings, Minnesota. Photo taken at 4640 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 1951.
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The 1923 Model T Ford

A 1923 Model T center door sedan has a San Benito (Texas) Public Health Nurse logo on its door. Mrs Irma Dixon appears to be dressed for nursing. Photo says “South Texas” on the back. San Benito is just south of the larger city of Harlingen, Texas.

The 1923 Model year began on August 1, 1922. The cars Ford produced for the first month were unchanged from 1922. Open cars still had the vertical windshield, and the touring still came with the two man top. All cars had wooden firewalls. By September 1, the new “1923” touring and roadsters were coming off the line in Highland Park with their more modern looking slanted windshields. The 1923 tourings now had a so – called “One Man Top” that was sportier looking with no center top support, but a handful to erect by ones self. Firewalls continued to be wooden, and the low radiator was used on all cars.

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The 1916 Model T Ford

Side curtains and chains make a 1916 Model T usable even in cold snowy weather.

Ford had a relatively bad model year in 1915 with production significantly slowed due to problems encountered while changing over to the new body style. The 1916 model year officially began on August 1, 1915 with serial number 856,514 being the first 1916 model car produced. There would be no such problems for the new 1916 Model T’s with model year production over a half million cars. The last 1916 Model T built had serial number 1,362,813 on July 31, 1916. 1916 was the last full model year with a brass radiator and hub caps used on all cars and chassis. Let’s take a look at the state of the art Model T Fords of 1916.

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