Model T at the Post Office

1917 Model T FordI pulled up at the post office today and saw this. It’s a 1917 Model T Ford.

I snapped a bunch of pictures (which seemed eerilie like what my father would do), but I wasn’t the only one. While standing in line at the post office a steady stream of people were going out of their way to check it out, standing around gawking and taking pictures. My favorite was the college-age girl snapping a picture on her cell phone. Stereotypically not who you’d consider to be a car buff, though who knows.

The car was quite the attraction, and you can see why. The owner said he had just rebuilt the engine and drove it in a neighborhood parade and car show. Compared to a modern vehicle the thing is ridiculously simple. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but there aren’t a lot of controls (yes, that’s the battery sitting in the middle of the dashboard). It even has a starter crank.

I remember in middle school when I learned how an internal combustion engine worked I commented to my dad that it seemed like most of the systems in a car were just complications to deal with issues with the way an engine works (either making things easier, safer or more efficient)—radiator, starter, alternator, transmission, muffler, power steering, brakes, suspension, shocks, etc. You don’t really need all of that (though it sure helps). And this thing is proof. Never mind the creature comforts—seatbelts, airbags, window wipers (heck, windows), climate control, radio, brake lights, a paint job, etc. Though it does have a horn! I didn’t ask the owner if it was a classic ah-ooh-ga sound. I also love the real wood paneling. Even the wheel spokes were made of wood.

In the end it’s not much more than an engine. And that’s really just harnassing a controled explosion. Incredibly simple when you get down to it (if you can call controlling an explosion simple). Amazing how far we’ve taken the basic automobile.

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