1915 Model T Racer Build

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Project by KnotCurser posted 05-01-2010 03:36 AM 2859 views 5 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yes, this is a REAL, operating Model T! The owner is a Great Friend and Co-Worker of mine and Model T’s are his passion in life. He bought this one with the original heavy four-seat frame with roof and seats – must have weighed three hundred pounds.

His goal was to take this vehicle on the 100th Anniversary “Ocean to Ocean Race” Starting in New York and Ending in California. This was a grueling race in 1909 and was just as grueling last year! Takes a month and a half and a lot of money to pull it off in one of these things! For more info on this race, you can go here:

I was enthralled by his attempt as well and quickly volunteered for the primary woodwork on the car. At the time I had NO idea how much of a Model T is actually made of wood – it turns out most of the car!!!

He wanted to build from scratch a racing frame – all out of wood and the lighter the better. Oh yeah, to make things more tricky we had little to no money to spend on it and only a couple of months time! Doh!

I was able to make a few trades with some past clients of mine for VERY rough-cut red oak beams which I planed down to 2×4’s for the frame. I used chestnut for the floor pan and console. I stripped down the mahogany steering wheel, re-glued and refinished it. We constructed the shell from poplar and painted with a marine-grade paint to take the weather.

All this in approx. two month’s time!!!!

We got down the wire and actually finished the week before the race began – all he had left to do were the seats and the gas tank. All lights were green!

That’s where the story takes a bad turn – two days before the race the gas tank came back from the shop and leaked like a sieve. The guy that promised the seats never came through either. One bad thing after another happened and he never did get to go on the race. I felt really bad for him!

He made the best of it though and has now taken this marvel all over Maryland’s Eastern shore, Delaware, Virginia, Washington DC as well as a bunch of other get-togethers with a local group of Model T Enthusiasts.

I took a ride or two in this thing – it is FAST! With the really light body it has more power than you would imagine from such a small engine. To drive it though I think you have to have three hands and four feet – he does it very well I have to say.

Still running like a champ and all the wood is perfect!!!!

-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

12 comments so far

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 3264 days

#1 posted 05-01-2010 04:05 AM

Nice work there. I did not realize that racers often used wood frames. I have done mechanical work on Model Ts and learned to drive them. My dad has 4 from 1919 – 1925. They don’t make cars like they use to. And i am glad of it.

-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View KnotCurser's profile


2025 posts in 3094 days

#2 posted 05-01-2010 04:21 AM


Actually, not only the racers used wood frames but all the frames from back then were wood – the heavy one we lifted off was all wood – mahogany to be exact. Still in really great shape as well! They have six bolts that attached to the metal frame of the car. That’s it – just six bolts. You can see them all in my second picture.


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3329 days

#3 posted 05-01-2010 04:31 AM

Very nice Knotcurser.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View jaedwards575's profile


90 posts in 3083 days

#4 posted 05-01-2010 05:23 AM

Very nice! I love the fabricated firewall, very different from the original, but yet it fits the car. How far back did yall move the seats?

-- Aaron Possom Town, TN

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3799 days

#5 posted 05-01-2010 12:54 PM

Great job on the model T. Very nicely done. I helped restore a model T fire engine if you care to look at my projects. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View albachippie's profile


772 posts in 3061 days

#6 posted 05-01-2010 01:01 PM

This is very cool. A dream project for me! If you do another one give me a call….!

Great work

-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3382 days

#7 posted 05-01-2010 01:17 PM

totally amazing. I would have neer of thought a car had wood like that. I was only born in “78” so what do I know…lol he oldest car I drove in was a 1932 Buick Special. That was pretty cool, but all metal. It’s pretty neat the fiewall is made of wood…..

Great story, and great expeience. Nicely done.

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

View KnotCurser's profile


2025 posts in 3094 days

#8 posted 05-01-2010 05:39 PM


Since we basically had a clean slate to start with, we customized it for the driver, who stands 6’ 4” tall and has very long legs! We moved the seat back as far as we could and still be able to fit the gas tank. Funny other thing is we had to mount the gas tank higher than in the original as it’s gravity fed and the Rocky Mountains would not allow the original location to work! You hear stories of the original racers having to back up steep hills in order to get over them – doh!


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View Jason's profile


659 posts in 3534 days

#9 posted 05-01-2010 05:42 PM

C’mon! You’re just showing off now.

My dad does work for a group of Model T enthusiasts from time to time in my hometown of Pueblo, CO. It’s hard to determine if they are crazy or just have too much time and money.

It’s too bad he didn’t make the race, but he has to be tickled to death to have it done. Great job.

-- Jason - Colorado Springs

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3141 days

#10 posted 05-02-2010 08:39 PM

great job
thank´s for sharing the history too


View BTKS's profile


1986 posts in 3490 days

#11 posted 05-02-2010 11:58 PM

Simply COOL! It takes quite a buddy to offer that much help on a short time frame.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3192 days

#12 posted 05-03-2010 01:52 PM

Cool project.
Great Story!
Thanks for sharing

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

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