Motor like it’s 1915 again: Model T road trip re-creation is heading for L.A.

Re-creating Edsel Ford’s 1915 road trip

A re-created 1915 road trip in a Model T is stop in Los Angeles in early August before the vehicle heads up the coast to San Francisco. It will celebrate the centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition on Aug. 18.

(Tanya Moutzalias / Associated Press)

Here’s a bit of summer fun: time traveling on a 100-year-old road trip in an original Model T.

Members of the Historic Vehicle Assn. set off Saturday to re-create the 3,500-mile drive that then-21-year-old Edsel Ford made from Detroit to San Francisco’s international expo in 1915.

The 2015 version of the trip began when the Model T departed from the Henry Ford estate in Dearborn, Mich., outside Detroit, traveling at a top speed of 35 mph.

It arrived in Indianapolis on Monday and visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and museum before pressing on to St. Louis.


The car is expected to arrive in Las Vegas on July 29 and to spend time in Los Angeles on Aug. 7 and 8.

From there, the tour is to continue north along the California coast, ending at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts on Aug. 18.

When Edsel Ford, the only son of auto mogul Henry Ford, and six friends arrived at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Ford Motor Co.'s exhibit at the event included a working assembly plant.

It churned out 18 cars a day. Ultimately, 4,000 were produced during the fair’s run from March 2 to Dec. 4.


The younger Ford kept detailed records and photos of the journey that stoked the romance of seeing America by car. Interstate highways were still in their infancy, and Ford moved along a southern route known as the National Old Trails Highway. (Part of the roadway would later become the famed Route 66.)

For the modern-day trip, D.L. George Historic Motorcars in Pennsylvania volunteered to fix up a Model T Touring Car (not the one Ford used on his trip) so it could motor the 150 to 250 miles a day, as the original journey did.

About 15 million Model Ts were built between 1908 and 1927. Of those, about 50,000 are still around.

Edsel Ford was president of Ford Motor Co. from 1919 to 1943. His name is most closely associated with the Edsel, a Ford flop that debuted in 1958.

Info: You can follow the Model T as it makes its way on its journey and see historic photos and details of the original trip at this website.


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