From The Grayslake Historical Society Archives: 'The Tin Lizzie'

The Grayslake Historical Society gives Patch a look at the history of the "Tin Lizzie," a 1923 Model T Ford flatbed truck.

Another popular attraction in the Annex of the Grayslake Heritage Center & Museum is a 1923 Model T Ford flatbed truck.

The black, four-cylinder truck, nicknamed Old Liz, is still operable, but on a limited basis. It was a common sight several years ago in area parades with its Grayslake Feed Sales sign.

During the years the DeMeyer family from the feed company modified and maintained the vehicle.

Originally, the truck had to be hand-cranked to start, but that has been modified to an electrical starting system. There are three pedals on the floor that operate the transmission system. One is for reverse and the other two are for low forward and high forward. The open-air vehicle has glass windows on the windshield, which can be cranked open and closed.

The Ford Model T, known as the Tin Lizzie, was manufactured by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from September 1908 to October 1927. Historians regard it as the first affordable automobile and the car that opened travel to the common middle-class American.

Many Ford manufacturing innovations, including assembly line production, made the automobile available and affordable to the average American.

The Ford Model T was named the world's most influential car of the 20th century in an international poll. The first production Model T was produced on August 12, 1908 and left the factory in Detroit on Sept. 27, 1908.

On May 26, 1927, the 15 millionth Model T Ford rolled off the assembly line at a Ford plant in Highland Park, Mich.

The Model T was the first automobile mass produced on moving assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts, marketed to the middle class. It had a 177-cubic-inch (2.9 L) front-mounted in-line four-cylinder en block flat-head engine. The transmission was controlled with three foot pedals and a lever that was mounted to the road side of the driver's seat. The throttle was controlled with a lever on the steering wheel.

Many of the early cars were open-bodied touring cars and runabouts which were cheaper to make than closed cars.

And the price?

The standard 4-seat open tourer of 1909 cost $850; in 1913, the price dropped to $550 and $440 in 1915.

Sales were $69,762 in 1911; $170,211 in 1912; $202,667 in 1913; $308,162 in 1914; and $501,462 in 1915.

In 1914, an assembly line worker could buy a Model T with four months' pay. By the 1920s, the price had fallen to $260 because of increasing efficiencies of assembly line technique and volume.

The Grayslake Feed Sales Model T flatbed truck is on display, along with other larger historical items, in the Annex of the museum.

The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and during downtown Grayslake events including the Farmers' Market on Saturdays.

For more information about the Grayslake Historical Society, call (847) 223-7663.

Submitted by the Grayslake Historical Society


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