Motor City

26 July 2014

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Lot 173

1911 Ford Model T Five-Passenger Touring

  • Chassis no. 39815
  • Engine no. 39815

Sold for $35,750

20 bhp, 176.7 cu. in. four-cylinder inline L-head engine, two-speed planetary transmission, solid front axle, live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs, a transmission brake, and two-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 100 in.

  • Offered from the Clyde Ensor Sr. Collection
  • Represented the U.S. at the 1976 Bicentennial Exhibition in Russia
  • A well-preserved older restoration

Henry Ford’s Model T, marketed as “The Universal Car,” sold the world over and was assembled in many countries. Few found their way to Soviet Russia, however, as Ford didn’t officially establish a presence in the USSR until 1929. That gives this car a unique provenance, as it made an official visit to that country in 1976.

In the nation’s bicentennial year, the United States Information Agency (USIA) was charged with mounting an exhibition in Moscow to showcase U.S. technological innovations. The USIA, founded during the Eisenhower administration, was the government department devoted to “public diplomacy,” to broaden the dialogue between the U.S. and similar agencies abroad. Other examples of technology included airplanes, a cash register, and a camera, but when it came to cars, the agency wanted a Model T Ford, easily the most significant factor in putting America on wheels.

The USIA contacted the Model T Ford Club of America, whose president immediately recommended Clyde Ensor Sr., renowned Kentucky collector and restorer of Model Ts and whose cars were consistent award winners. Mr. Ensor was enthusiastic, and after consulting his wife, Ann, he offered this 1911 Touring model that had been restored for her. The car traveled by ship to Helsinki and on to Moscow by rail. This Model T, the only antique car in the show, was on display for a month and seen by nearly 300,000 visitors. Ensor’s brother, Don, an accomplished artist, painted a picture of the car in front of the Kremlin, and a signed print of the picture accompanies the car in the sale.

Ford had restyled the Model T for 1911, giving it a new radiator, fenders, and wheels. Its body now used steel panels over a wood framework, as opposed to earlier all-wood construction. Whereas cars were previously offered in red, grey, or green, for 1911 dark blue was selected as a standard color (“any color as long as it’s black” still lay in the future). As the car dates back to February 1911, it is one of the last with the open-valve engine.

Clyde Ensor had acquired the car in 1970, from H.D. Green, of Rising Sun, Indiana. He immediately commenced a full restoration, which was completed in 1973, and the car was rewarded with an AACA National First Prize at its show debut. The car has remained in the Ensor family ever since, where it has been lovingly cared for. More than 40 years later, the restoration appears fresh and the car runs well. The paint is bright and unblemished, the black buttoned upholstery is supple and unworn, and the engine and chassis are nicely detailed. For its service to the history of our country, it fully deserves the description of “national treasure.”

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more