The control system of the 1909 Model T Ford was different than all previous Fords, and different from all other cars on the road. First of all Ford placed the steering wheel on the left side of the vehicle, an unusual feature not shared with many other automobiles, certainly not the same as any of Ford’s top competitors. Fords reasoning was sound on this change; Americans drove on the right side of the road. Typically driver and passengers would enter and exit the car from the curb side, thus they would not be stepping out into traffic or into a muddy road. Also the left position of the driver meant a better view when passing a slower moving horse drawn vehicle, something that was more common than encountering another motorist.
The chassis parts of the early 1909 Model T Ford were the beginning of 15 million other Model T’s. Yet in nearly every component there is a difference from what came later. Let’s take a closer look at them to see what happened and maybe understand why it happened too.
This early postcard shows a pre – 2500 Model T Ford with brass plated hand crank, flat “no bill” front fenders, and early front axle assembly. Note that this is a runabout that has an additional runabout rear seat added, making it a “tourabout” which was not officially offered in 1909 model year but was obviously possible. Also note the linoleum covered brass trimmed running board.
The first Model T Fords used what T collectors today call the “No Rivet” rear axle assembly. Ford made the two main pieces of the axle housing from deep drawn steel sheet. It was an engineering gamble to drive down the cost of manufacture.
Henry Ford had overwhelming success with the four cylinder Fords built during the 1906 – 1908 model years, with close to 14,000 sold (all models, all years) in Model N, Model R and Model S (or SR). With Ford the #1 automobile maker in the world, his next car was expected to be a good one. No one could have predicted just how successful it would become!
A happy family with their very early 1909 Model T.