“Piece of Americana:” Inland Empire Model T Ford Club Hosts Nationwide Tour
As the Ford Model T line pulled up to turn onto Northwest Boulevard on Monday morning, patrons at the Little Garden Cafe waved and took photos.
Dressed in 1920s clothing, Karen and Ed Archer looked particularly photogenic sitting in their yellow 1915 Ford Model T race car. Karen wore a pink and white ensemble with a matching hat, while Ed wore a blue and beige outfit in competition with suspenders, tie, hat and driving glasses.
“They’re a piece of Americana,” Ed said of the Model T. “Everyone used to own one, so if you really want to recreate, go back in time, get yourself a Model T.”
The couple drove the car from their home outside of San Francisco in Hayward, Calif., To Spokane in just over two days. Friends, who towed their Model T, brought their bags while the 80-year-old couple took advantage of the scenic drive.
Ed started collecting vintage clothes in high school and vintage cars followed soon after.
“I always thought that if you drive a vintage car you have to look at the part,” he said.
When he married Karen, Ed sold all of his cars to “settle in”, but it didn’t last long. The couple decided to get someone else to do the work on their cars to keep Karen from being a “garage widow” and to use the hobby as a chance to hang out together.
In 2008, for the centenary of the Model T, first presented in 1908, the couple took a transcontinental journey. They put their tires in the Pacific Ocean before heading to Richmond, Indiana for the celebration and then to Atlantic City where they put their front wheels in the ocean.
The best part about the hobby, Ed said, is “you see everyone’s bright side.”
It was definitely true on Monday, with passersby pulling back, smiling and snapping photos of the dozens of Model T’s as they made their way from the Northern Quest Casino to Greenbluff.
The Inland Empire Model T Club hosts the 2021 Ford Club of America Model T Nationwide Tour from June 9-14. Every day, the 140 or so Model T’s on this year’s tour make day trips throughout the region.
The tour was long in coming for Inland Empire Model T Club tour chairman Matt Hanson, 57, who planned the tour almost two years ago, but the event has been postponed due to COVID-19 .
The tour, however, appears to have been worth the wait, Hanson said.
“Everyone loves the experience,” he said.
In the five years Hanson has been with the local Model T club, he said he’s learned that “keeping people busy and enjoying the ride” is what makes a great tour.
The group walked up Indian Trail Road and stayed there until it became Rutter Parkway. The Model T line zigzagged and zigzagged with the winding road, surrounded on both sides by trees.
The crew headed to Pine River Park for a mid-morning coffee and donuts, although once they grabbed their treats most people returned to the parking lot to discuss an engine. centenary.
The types and conditions of T models on the track vary. From 1908 to 1927, 15 million T models were manufactured. Some cars remain traditional while others, like Mike Harris’ “Rusty”, a 1924 TT, have a few new features. The back of Harris’ truck is now a barbecue.
While barbecuing can be a topic of conversation, it can be difficult to drive on an open road, so Harris drove his 1924 Model T Touring on Monday. He was just ahead of what he likes to call the “vulture” truck. – a modern van that rolls behind the group in case someone breaks down and the problem cannot be fixed quickly.
If a car is loaded, it’s not for lack of trying to find a quick fix, Harris said. “Everyone helps everyone,” he said.
The T-model parts are widely interchangeable, a novelty when they were first produced.
As the group made their way from the park to Mead, then past wheat fields to Greenbluff, other drivers waved and smiled from their vehicles built a century after the first mass-produced car.
The wheels of most cars are made of wood, more like a wagon than a modern car. In fact, when the Archers started riding Model Ts, the group they joined was called the Horseless Carriage Club. The national group still exists today and focuses on cars built before 1916, including the Archers Model T.
When the group saw the sign that said they had entered the farming community of Greenbluff, the pace slowed down a bit and the runners took their time looking at the scenery.
Their line of vintage cars made their way through the main intersection of Greenbluff and up to Siemers Farm where they were brought in between the gargoyles on either side of the gate.
The drivers lined up their cars with the front laws of the farm and opened their doors to the smell of kettle corn. Of the approximately 140 Model T’s on the tour, only three were driven by women.
A few years ago a friend of Renea and John Aldridge said they had a vintage car they should go check out. Although she’s a little skeptical, Renea said, she went.
When she saw the 1923 Roadster, she couldn’t help but say to her husband, “Isn’t that cute? Renée recalled. The couple were quickly convinced to buy the Model T, which quickly broke down on their first trip and had to be towed home. After a little elbow grease, the car was operational, ready for the adventure.
John drove the car for about a year before teaching Renea.
“After I learned to drive it, I said ‘You have to have your own car,’” Renea said with a laugh.
“Lizze” affectionately named both after a vehicle of the same make and model in the animated film “Cars” and in accordance with what was colloquially called the car in the late 1920s, has always was Renea’s.
The car has three petals, on the right the brake, middle to reverse and on the left gasoline, explained Renea. Without power steering, the car can be difficult to drive, but it fills Renea, who her husband says is a bit free-spirited, with joy.
“It’s something very different for me to do,” Renea said. “I’m not the typical guy who prepares packages every morning, nobody. I am a bit of a rebel.
On this tour, Renea’s “accomplice” is Sharlee Colby, a longtime friend, who rides a shotgun and gives Renea instructions.
Their husbands, John Aldridge and Randy Colby drive John’s 1915 Model T pickup truck called the “Road Runner”. John built the truck about 10 years ago, after Renea took over as “Lizzie” manager.
“I just bought three stacks of parts at various points in Washington state and built the truck,” John said with a chuckle. “Henry Ford made 15 million of these things, there are parts everywhere.”
The couples, who live near Mt. Rainier, said they love to come to Spokane for tours. They especially enjoyed crossing the Palouse on Sunday.
“The tour is going well. The routes were obviously well thought out and the scenery is “waves of amber grain”, ”said John, referring to the song America, the Beautiful.
Couples all agree that the best part about tours are the people, who are always ready to lend a hand and talk about their historic vehicles.
“Do you need a tire? I’ll find you one. Renée said. “Everyone I have met thanks to the Model Ts … they are a great group.”
On Wednesday, the group will spend the morning at Riverfront Park on the hill under the Clock Tower. The tour plans to arrive around 9 a.m. and spend a few hours downtown, the public is welcome to stop and see the cars and their owners, organizer Hanson said.
Whatever the occasion, driving with a Model T group is an adventure, John said.
“Every ride is a parade, every stop is a car show,” John said.