What’s it like to travel across the country in a 100-year-old car? Read on to find out that and more as we recap our month-long journey from Detroit to San Francisco in a 1915 Model T.
For the past month, several members of the HVA staff have been traveling from Detroit to San Francisco in a 1915 Ford Model T, tracing a route similar to that traveled by Edsel Ford and a handful of friends who, in 1915, headed west to attend the Pan Pacific International Exposition. Along the way they found themselves faced with a host of challenges, many of which were common in the early days of motor travel. One hundred years later, our team found that, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Unable to travel down the interstates that have become the primary modes of transportation for much of the motoring public, the team in the Model T sought out the lesser traveled roads, utilizing the Google bike routes maps to get from points A to B on a given day. Doing so, however, found the team traveling a number of forgotten roads, not to mention “roads” in the loosest sense of the word. Along the way, they found themselves slogging through mud, desolate two-tracks and desert sand, all the while seeing parts of the country few modern motorists get to experience.
Traveling along with the Model T for comparison and support were two contemporary vehicles: a 2015 Ford Mustang with Ecoboost and a Ford F-150 pickup. Where both of these vehicles eventually found themselves very nearly stuck, the Model T kept right on going, its design ideal for the many primitive roads down which the team traveled.
And while the two newer vehicles offered modern amenities like air conditioning and satellite radio, the former being much appreciated in the heat of the desert, the team found the Model T to be quite comfortable in its own right. With the windscreen half down and the top up, a nice, natural air conditioning effect was created, largely keeping the driving team cool. For those not driving, the couch-like backseat proved ideal for mid-afternoon naps.
Needless to say, driving across the country in a 100-year-old car drew a fair share of smiles, honks and waves. Along the way we met a host of fantastic people and visited the small towns they call home. It was a truly unique way in which to experience everything our country has to offer.
To read a day-by-day account of the trip and full details of all the trials and tribulations faced by the team, visit drivehistory.org.