The color plate above is the cover of the spring 1912 United States edition Model T catalogue. The image is a bit misleading since this style of touring body was no longer being produced by that date and all cars now came equipped with a fixed driver side door and functional passenger side door. Certain parts are not finished appropriately due to liberties taken by the chromolithographer. For example the parking brake lever should be black.
In this article we will examine the evolution of the touring body style during the 1912 model year. The rest of the industry had – for the most part – moved away from exposed wooden firewalls, open front compartments, and brass trim for their touring cars. Ford was making so many cars so quickly that change was sometimes well behind the rest of the industry. As a practical matter, Ford had to place orders to its suppliers for tens of thousands of parts at a time. Changing anything might have a domino effect on scores of other components. As we shall see, Ford, while leading the industry in sales, production numbers, and profitability was playing catch up in terms of styling. As was always the case Ford used each change as a way to not only improve the appearance of its cars, but to make them better for their customer, easier to manufacture, and more profitable all at the same time.
The well dressed ladies in this 1912 Model T touring would have had to prepare for the drive starting hours in advance. Their hair is piled on top of their heads in a bun. The hats are secured to the hair using hat pins so the hats do not blow off. The car is interesting in that the front door on the driver side opens, it has hinges and a handle. Notice the angle of the horn tube, this is typical of 1911 – 1912 double twist horns. The headlamps, cowl lamps, and carbide generator are all made by Edmunds and Jones. Notice the position of the carbide generator on the running board just forward of the Ford script.
Several new Fords are on the LH side in this photo. Notice the fenders are not pin striped, that practice ended in 1911 model year.
Above, the Keystone cops and Mack Sennett probably destroyed a few hundred Model T’s over the 30 years they filmed their short movies. This car is about to be hit by a train, apparently a common occurrence in those days. The rear door handle is typical of 1911 – 12. In this photo the door is latched, but not locked. The handle is rotated an additional 90 degrees clockwise to extend the locking hook into the body mounted door latch.
Above we see the typical 1912 Model T touring as they were made from the beginning of the model year in October 1911. Cars like this one continued to be built through the introduction of new slab side bodies in January 1912. No doubt there would have been considerable overlap of the new and old bodies for at least a month as suppliers switched designs and old stock was depleted. The driver side “door” is non – opening yet can be removed (using tools) in a few minutes if desired. Windshield is a typical equal size pane Rands unit. Lights are E & J. Rear doors are hinged at the front, with a brass outside handle. The crank handle is black hard rubber, as would be the case until January 1912. Note the correct location of the carbide generator just forward of the Ford script.
Another early 1912 touring, this one having seen some years of use. The firewall is made of two boards, the upper board is called the “windshield filler board.” Again we see the typical 1912 E & J headlamps, cowl lamps, and carbide generator. The windshield is again the typical equal size pane Rands unit. Horn is a double twist with the bulb mounted on the outside of the car. Notice how the early fore doors “dip” as they meet the firewall.
The rather dapper looking gentleman doffs his straw boater to pose for a photo with his well worn 1912 Model T. This car has the less common JNO Brown Model 19 headlamps paired with E & J cowl lamps. The horn again is the earlier double twist variety.
Another early 1912 touring with the “dipped” fore doors. Again we see the typical Rands windshield with equal panes and E&J lamps. The 1911 – 1912 rear door upholstery is quite plain compared to 1909 – 1910 Model T’s which often had a storage compartment incorporated in the door panels.
About the middle of January 1912 the new fore door touring bodies began to be used. This new body had a simplified and stronger side panel which was now one piece all the way from the top of the body to the splash apron, eliminating the “stepped” appearance between the front and rear doors of the touring bodies. The firewall is now one piece, eliminating the separate “windshield board” which again made the construction simpler, stronger and cheaper. Again we see the Rands windshield with equal size panes. The lamps on this car are JNO Brown #19 headlamps with Brown #100 cowl lamps. Notice that this version of the “slab side” touring has the brass door handles on the outside of the rear doors, while the fore doors have handles only on the inside. The rear doors now hinge at the front.
These hunters have demonstrated another use for the 1912 Model T touring. A later “slab side” body can indeed become a duck blind. With the carburetor and the timer below water level they would have required a tow to remove the car after this little adventure. The hunter in the foreground is using a Winchester Model 1897 pump action shotgun, a very popular firearm at that time.
Another new 1912 “slab side” touring shows the unique pin striping pattern used on the late 1912 tourings. This car is equipped with a Prestolite brand carbide tank instead of the carbide generator, a very popular factory option. The windshield is a typical Rands unit.
A close up shows the fine pin striping on the wheels. The horn is a typical double twist with the bulb mounted outside the car. Lamps are JNO Brown.
Close up showing the upholstery tacks securing the seat material, murphy fastener locations, and notice how the pin striping is applied next to the raised bead, not on top of the body bead. All these details are typical of the period.
Above we see another common later variety of 1912 “slab side” touring body. This car is a bit later, perhaps April 1912. Ford has now begun using the single twist black painted horn. The horn tube is inside the body, we can see the horn bulb on the inside of the removable “fore door”. Speaking of doors; this car has the door handles mounted on the inside of all the doors. The rear doors hinge at the front. Lamps are all JNO Brown. The box on the running board likely houses a battery. The headlamps on this car are likely “electrified”.
Another late 1912 “slab side” touring with the black and brass single twist horn, this time with the top up.
Above we see yet another late slab side touring with no handles on the rear doors. This one sports an earlier double twist horn with the bulb on the outside of the body. Headlamps are E&J, the cowl lamps are Brown. Notice the carbide generator is in its correct location exposing the Ford script on the running board.
Our final 1912 slab side touring shows a set of Brown #110 black and brass cowl lamps mated with E&J #666 all brass headlamps. Ford was phasing out all brass cowl lamps and horns and headlamps towards the end of 1912 model year. The windshield on this car is an unusual unequal pane Rands or possibly Diamond unit.