A brand new 1912 Model T Ford Torpedo Runabout being delivered to the first owner. The travelling salesman was beginning to be a common thing in the United States in 1912. Many of the torpedo sales shown in the Accounts Receivables are group sales to business owners. The torpedo was often converted to a light truck or other utility vehicle. Notice the car above has a black painted aluminum crank handle. E & J headlamps are both hinged on the same side, there were never left / right hinged headlamps from E & J originally.
To be a farmer in those days, much like today, you had to be tough, hard working, and smart. This farmer came up with an ingenious way to use his 1912 Torpedo Runabout to plow his fields.
A Canadian 1912 torpedo runabout has RH drive and the horn mounted on the driver side as well as the carbide generator. Lamps are JNO Brown. RH drive was the law in certain Canadian provinces.
1912 historically was a very busy year in the world. In April the Titanic sank, killing an estimated 1,522 people. The war in the Balkans, which eventually would blossom into World War I, was well underway with Turkey, Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria all fighting by October. In November Woodrow Wilson defeated incumbent President Taft, largely due to Theodore Roosevelt running as a third party candidate. By December Austro – Hungary had declared war on Serbia. Meanwhile Henry, Edsel and Clara Ford went on vacation to Europe, probably unaware that war was already underway in Eastern Europe. Ford was the most successful automaker on the planet. He and his family were known nearly world wide. To undertake such a journey would have been the adventure of a lifetime for most people. The crossing of the Atlantic Ocean alone would have required at least 7 days each direction.
Cushman engines of Lincoln, Nebraska used a brand new 1912 Torpedo Runabout to demonstrate their new 4 horsepower utility engine. Cushman was and is a successful business selling all manner of engines, utility vehicles, and of course scooters over its long history.
This is a 1912 Open Runabout converted for use as a pickup truck by Ford Motor Company. It is pictured here in the yard behind the Highland Park Ford plant. Equipment is typical for late 1912, it has black and brass Brown #110 cowl lamps and Brown headlamps. The carbide Prestolite tank was a popular option available from the factory. Notice this car has a Michigan Manufacturer license plate suspended from the headlamp fork by leather straps. Notice also the single twist black and brass horn with the horn bulb attached to the steering column. This type of horn bulb mount was used on the town cars as well with the single twist horn.
This photo shows two teachers in a nearly new 1912 Model T Ford Torpedo Runabout. The photo was taken outside Lamson High School in Dassel, Minnesota. The car is equipped with Brown # 19 headlamps and Brown # 100 cowl lamps.
Sometimes you just have to get out and get under. This 1912 torpedo runabout has typical E&J lamps. Notice the centers of the hub caps are black enameled, a detail often missed by restorers. Ford records officially state that 13,312 runabouts of all types were sold for the model year. Any of them, whether torpedo runabout or open runabout are quite rare today.
Let’s take a look at an unrestored late 1912 touring that was for sale on eBay a few years ago. It appears to have survived mostly unmolested over the past 100+ years other than being whitewashed at some point. Notice the carbide generator location just forward of the Ford script on the running board. This car is equipped with typical all brass E&J lamps and a single twist horn which is shown mounted properly.
Even though the lamps are entirely made of brass, by this date Ford had instructed suppliers to paint them black other than bonnets and founts. This car has a rather unusual water pump, meaning the radiator is probably shot.
Under the hood on the passenger side we see the typical 1912 Holley H-1 carburetor. The intake manifold would have been aluminum originally. Note the oil cap, 1912 was the first year for the oil cap to have a cover stamped with “Ford” script. Oil caps in 1911 were a simple screen with no cap. The cylinder head has “Ford” script, but no “Made In USA”. Notice the cylinder head casting date just above the “Ford” script.
Typical of 1911 – 12, the speedometer drive is made by Stewart. The drive swivel was cast iron, as was the wheel gear. Notice the cast iron gear is attached to the wheel with four wood screws. The steering arm has a hole in it to mount the speedometer drive. This feature was new for Model T’s, first appearing late in the 1911 model year. The steering connector link is adjustable on both ends.
1912 would be the final full model year that Ford offered full leather upholstery on all cars. Quality and comfort were high.
Outside door handles disappeared midway through the 1912 model year, replaced with these unique latches that were only used for the late 1912 cars.
Another view of the 1912 door latch with the upholstery removed.
Another all original, unrestored 1912 touring shows how few tacks were used to secure the trim to the seat upholstery. Also, the trim is installed in such a way that the driver side false “door” is not removable without cutting the trim.
The patent plate is located on the dash board above the steering column for the first time in 1912 model year. Notice the correct slot head brass crews securing the steering column to the dash. This car has some added wiring for aftermarket electrified headlamps, and the coil box has been changed to a later metal box.
This car is equipped with JNO Brown #105 tail lamp. The 12 rivet “clamshell” style rear axle would be phased out during the summer of 1912. Notice there is no provision for license plate mounting. Many states did not have license plates yet, and many require the license plate be attached to the front of the car. This car is equipped with aftermarket shock absorbers, a very popular accessory.
At the beginning of the 1912 model year all blocks had the serial number on the passenger side just to the rear of the oil filler. Meanwhile as seen above the date code for the block was cast just above the water inlet.
Towards summer of 1912 the date and the serial number were both briefly located above the water inlet. This date is actually 51712 which is May 17, 1912.
The gas tank outlet for 1912 was moved to the center of the tank. This was not ideal, it was moved off center towards the passenger side during late 1912. The fuel strainer used in 1912 did not have hex wrench flats cast into the top as would be typical for 1913 – 1916.
Early in the 1912 model year Ford supplied every car with this version of the Stewart Model 26 speedometers which incorporated round mileage displays, the trip mileage located below the overall mileage windows.
About January 1912 Stewart introduced a simpler to manufacture version of the Model 26 speedometer. Now the season and trip mileage is displayed in two rectangular windows adjacent to each other on the same line.
The magneto on the 1912 Model T was still using the small, round, single stack coil assembly and the small oil funnel. The coil assembly is mounted to a stamped sheet metal plate, not much different from 1909.
This is a photo taken in 1912 of a row of stamping presses inside the Highland Park Ford plant. In the foreground are piles of magneto coil ring mounting plates similar to the one in the previous photo. The stamping presses were in a very large room that contained many such machines. A visitor commented that the noise was similar to what he imagined hell would be like.
A restored 1912 touring at a car show in Minnesota. This is a very late 1912 slab side touring. The horn bulb would have originally been attached to the inside of the false driver side “door”. Lamps are E&J, the windshield is a Rands unit. According to Ford records all cars were blue in 1912, although the dark green color seen here is quite attractive.
Henry Ford in a similar brand new 1912 touring. The person in the front seat is reportedly Henry Ford’s uncle Henry. This is a fantastic photo taken from a glass plate negative. The original is in the files at the Benson Ford. No records exist to tell us who the woman is holding the baby.
The wheel from the same photo shows the extreme detail by the pinstripe artist. Notice also the black background of the hubcap. This is again typical of 1912 – 1920 and a detail that most restorers are unaware of.
An earlier slab side touring with its tool roll spread out so that we can see the very hard to find spark plug socket wrench that was supplied that year. The spark plug socket incorporates a hex on one end that fits the rear axle nut. The hubcap wrench, meanwhile, does not have a hex yet that fits the rear axle nut. This car has the earlier double twist horn with the bub mounted outside of the body. Lamps are JNO Brown.
A pair of 1912 town cars being used as taxis. The car on the left has E&J lamps with a factory optional Prestolite carbide tank. The car on the right has JNO Brown lamps.
Canadian built 1912 town car seen in New Zealand. This car has RH drive, so the horn is mounted on the RH side. Lamps are E&J. All wheels on Canadian built cars were 30 X 3 1/2″ . The side curtains are rarely seen on town cars. For that matter, we don’t see town cars very often either. They were not too popular when new, with only 802 built in the 1912 model year.