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You Won’t Believe This Daily Driver


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28. April 2014

While this is not astonishing math, next year, 2015, will be 100 years after 1915. 100 years is a long time. Having stated the obvious, let me move on to the point: David Liepelt has a 1915 Ford Model T. And you might think to yourself: “Big deal. Lot’s of people have 1915 Model Ts. Some people have Model Ts that are even older than that. After all, they went into production in 1908 and didn’t go out of production until 1927. And one of the major factors drivers of the overall success of the Model T was that Henry Ford and his crew were relentless at refining the product and the process so that they could build them more efficiently and consequently reduce the price of the car. There were some 15 million built at the Ford plant in Highland Park, Michigan, alone. There were even More built in other parts of the world, ranging from England to Japan. So David Liepelt owns a 1915. Big deal.”

Highland Park Model T final assembly, 1914 Inside the Ford Highland Park Plant, 1914.  Making Model Ts.

Well, in one significant way, Liepelt and his Model T are a big deal.

You see, David Liepelt actually drives his 1915 Model T. And I don’t mean on and off the bed of a transporter that would take the car to some Model T owners rally.

No, he drives it to work sometimes. He lives in Milan, Michigan. He works in Dearborn, Michigan. That’s a good 40 miles or so, depending on the route. (Needless to say, he’s not hopping on I-94 with it.)

Liepelt drove his Model T into the studio of “Autoline After Hours” last week. That’s in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Or about 50 miles one way.

Liepelt, as mentioned, works in Dearborn. He works at The Henry Ford, the magnificent museum and living village founded by, well, the Henry Ford. Perhaps not surprisingly—that is, given that he drives his nearly 100-year-old car the same way some people hop in their Focus—Liepelt works as an engineer maintaining three. . .steam locomotives that run throughout Greenfield Village.

One more thing: last fall, Liepelt and his Model T participated in a race from the Ford Piquette Plant in Detroit, where the Model T was manufactured until 1908 before production was moved to Highland Park, to Shoreham, New York, on Long Island, to a laboratory established by Nikola Tesla. The 1915 Model T was up against a 2013 Tesla Model S. As revealed in the story in Car and Driver that the race was setup for, you’ll see that the Model T comported itself in the race exceedingly well.

Todd Lassa, executive editor of Automobile magazine, John McElroy of Autoline, and I talk with Liepelt about Model Ts and trains.

Lassa was at the Beijing Auto Show, which was a few days after I was at the New York Auto Show, so we also discuss whether the center of gravity for car shows—and cars—may be moving east, as in the Far East.

That and much more, which you can watch here:

 

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