What better way to appreciate modern, high-tech cars than to drive one that’s about 100 years old?
Students learn how to start and drive the world’s first mass-produced car, with help from museum docents and a handful of Model Ts from the museum’s collection.
Each class lasts about two and a half hours and is open to just 18 students. The Gilmore Museum plans to offer 10 classes in 2014, two per day on May 3, June 22, July 22, August 23, and September 14. The tuition fee is $95 for non-members, and $85 for members.
Some might question the need for Model T driving lessons. After all, it’s still a car, right? How hard can it be?
As it turns out, very. A Model T requires copious lubrication of various parts and a stout turn of the crank handle (no electric starter here) before it can even move, and the controls are completely alien to any 21st century driver.
Sure, there’s a steering wheel and some seats. But that’s where the familiarity ends.
To get moving, the driver has to push the hand brake lever forward and depress the leftmost pedal. As long as he or she keeps that pedal pressed to the floor, they’ll be good for about 20 mph.
Releasing the pedal and moving the hand lever all the way forward puts the car in high gear; other than that engine speed is controlled by advancing the spark with a lever on the steering wheel. The other two pedals are for reverse and braking.
Good thing that didn’t catch on.
Ask most car enthusiasts which vintage car they’d most like to drive, and the answer will probably involve the words “Hemi” or “Ferrari 250GTO.” However, the Ford Model T could be the most enlightening vintage drive of all.
The Model T was most people’s first motoring experience, and the fact that it’s so different from today’s cars shows just how much both automotive technology, and our perception of it, have evolved.