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Ford Centennial Sparks Caravan of 43 Model T’s from California to Michigan


DEARBORN, May 5, 2003 – The 100th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company  on June 16th  will be celebrated in unusual fashion by a group of Model T enthusiasts.  Beginning on May 25th, a caravan of 43 Ford Model Ts, some approaching 90 years old, will embark on a 3,000-mile journey from California to the Ford Motor Company Centennial celebration in Dearborn, Mich., which begins June 12.  

“The ‘Dearborn or bust’ spirit of these travelers was born of pure passion for the car that put American on wheels and a deep respect for Henry Ford’s unique role in history,” said Jim O’Connor, Ford group vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service. “Enthusiasts like these who honor our first 100 years bolster our determination to innovate in our next 100 years as well.” “Our theme is ‘Fords last forever,’ and we aim to prove that,” said Lee Chase, 73, a 1914 Touring Car owner from Los Angeles.  

About half the vehicles on the tour will be Model Ts with brass radiators built prior to 1915. The rest will be “black cars” built in the 1920s. Many were formerly rusted relics buried in rural graveyards and acquired for as little as $15 or less. “I got my first Model T just after World War II from a farmer who told me, ‘Just cut the weeds and bushes it's buried under and you can have it,’” recalled Chase.  

After a festive sendoff at Lancaster City Park, the group will wind through nine Western and Midwestern states, stopping for pancake breakfasts, charity events and media interviews, often at Ford dealerships. The caravan also will stop at several nursing homes, where residents will be invited to ride for a couple of miles in the back seat of classic Model Ts.  

The tour route of historic back roads was designed both to accommodate the speed limitations of the cars and to protect them from the hazards of modern freeway driving. Top speed will range between 14 mph when the group tackles the Rocky-Mountain climb and altitude between Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Fort Collins, Colo., to 35 mph on flat roads.  Ford Motor Company has promised a couple of support vehicles (of modern vintage) to accompany the enthusiasts.



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