From Junk to Jalopy in 12 Minutes

From Junk to Jalopy in 12 Minutes

Antique Auto Show features quick assembly of Model T.

From 1908-1927, the Ford Motor Company’s Model T ruled the roads. Visitors to the City of Fairfax Antique Auto Show, Saturday, May 20, saw one of the cars assembled in less than 15 minutes.

“The Model T is the car that really put America on the road,” said John Girman, president of the Northern Virginia Early Ford V8 Club. “In the 1920s and 30s, Model Ts made up half the cars on the road in the entire world.”

Members of the Nation’s Capital Chapter of the Model T Club demonstrated just how fast the Fords could be assembled. They started out with a bunch of parts scattered in front of the entrance to City Hall. The display of old parts looked nothing like a car, but the team remained optimistic.

“Right now it looks like a train wreck, but it’ll run,” said Girman over a microphone.

Girman, a car enthusiast and collector, said he wished he could have been working on the truck, rather than talking about it. It took the crew 12 minutes and 20 seconds to get the truck running, and one member even hopped in and gave it about a 50-foot test drive. The parts came from a few different models and years, but Girman said for the most part, it was a 1926 Ford Roadster Pickup.

THE DEMONSTRATION gave visitors an idea of how Ford’s innovative assembly lines in the 1910s and 20s cranked out cars in less than 100 minutes. The Ford Motor Company introduced an assembly line to its production in 1913, according to the company’s Web site. Henry Ford also doubled the average American wage to $5 per day, and brought down the prices of his cars, so people of all income levels could own a Model T.

“Because there was so much mass production, the 1923 Model T Touring Car cost $285,” said Girman. “Everyone could afford it.”

The show had five intact Model T’s on display. Frank Gabel, owner of a 1923 Model T Touring Car, the most common kind of Model T, stood by to talk to onlookers about the history and details of his car. He said the 1919 models were the first to include starters, meaning each model prior to that year was started manually. The assembly demonstration didn’t use a starter either, and showed just how physically demanding it was to have to manually crank-start the car.

More than 50 other classic cars from the 1910s to the 1970s perched along Armstrong Street in front of City Hall. They included Dodges, Corvettes, Volkswagens, MGs, Plymouths, Chryslers and Cadillacs. Most of the cars’ owners, many of whom were collectors, have kept each vehicle in pristine condition, making for a visually appealing showcase of American classic automobiles. Paint and upholstery gave each car a fresh new look. One 4-year-old boy, Morgan Wallace, sat in the passenger seat of a 1923 Ford T-bucket painted with glossy yellow flames, and smiled from ear to ear.

“He adores cars,” said his mother, Claire Wallace. “Since about 2 years old he could tell you what make they were.”

Visitors walked the line of automobiles and narrowed their favorites down before voting for the winning car. Mayor Robert Lederer said all of the cars this year were great, and he couldn’t decide between a pink and white Chevrolet or one of the Volkswagens. In the end, neither won. The WINNING CAR HERE, turned out to be the coolest and prettiest one of them all.