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A Guide to Restoring the Popular Ford Model T



The Ford Model T, produced from 1908 to 1927, is an iconic piece of automotive history. Also known as the "Tin Lizzie", it is famous for being the first affordable automobile, which opened travel to the common middle-class American. For classic car enthusiasts and restoration hobbyists, restoring a Ford Model T can be an exciting and rewarding project and if you get stuck you can always contact Clanfield Coachbuilding to help with your vintage car restoration.


Check out our step by step guide to restoring a Ford Model T


Evaluate the Condition

Before starting any restoration project, it's important to thoroughly assess the condition of the vehicle. This will help you determine the extent of work required and plan accordingly. Check the body for rust, the engine for wear and tear, and the condition of the interior. For the Model T, also check the condition of the wooden wheels and the unique planetary transmission.


Gather Resources

Restoring a car as old as the Model T will require careful research. Look for owner's manuals, restoration guides, and technical diagrams to understand the original specifications and workings of the vehicle. Joining online forums and communities of Model T enthusiasts can also be beneficial, as they can provide advice, tips, and may have spare parts for sale or trade.


Disassemble and Catalogue

Before you start restoration work, you'll need to carefully disassemble the vehicle. As you do so, catalogue each part and take pictures to help you when it's time to reassemble. This is especially important for the Model T, which has some unique mechanisms and parts.


Body Restoration

Bodywork restoration can range from minor rust treatment to extensive metalwork. This will depend on the initial condition of the vehicle. For the Model T, particular attention should be given to the fenders and running boards, as these are often the most prone to rust.


Engine and Transmission Restoration

Restoring the Model T's engine can be a challenge due to its age, but many parts are still available from specialised suppliers. The Model T used a unique planetary transmission which is simpler than modern manual transmissions, but still requires careful attention during restoration.



Interior Restoration

Original Ford Model T cars had minimal interior features. The seats were upholstered, often in buttoned leather, and the floor was lined with a rubber mat. When restoring the interior, pay attention to these details to maintain the originality.


Electrical System

The Model T's electrical system is simple compared to modern cars, but still needs careful restoration. Ensure that the magneto, battery, and wiring are in good condition or properly replaced.


Reassemble and Paint

Once the individual components have been restored, it's time to reassemble the vehicle. When painting the Model T, traditionally black is the colour of choice, as most Model Ts were painted black due to the durability and affordability of black paint in the early 20th century.


Testing and Tuning

After the car is reassembled, it's important to test and tune it. This may involve adjusting the carburettor, timing the ignition system, or balancing the wheels. This will ensure the Model T runs as well as it did when it first left the factory.




Restoring a Ford Model T can be a challenging but rewarding project. Remember, the goal is not just to create a vehicle that looks like a Model T on the outside, but also to replicate the driving experience that Henry Ford intended. Good luck with your restoration project!


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