Motor City

26 July 2014

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Lot 106

1911 Ford Model T Torpedo Runabout

  • Chassis no. 47119
  • Engine no. 47119

Sold for $33,000

20 bhp, 176.7 cu. in. four-cylinder inline L-head engine, two-speed planetary transmission, solid front axle and 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
  • AACA National First Prize
  • Highly desirable Torpedo Runabout

Ford 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).

Some body styles, like the coupe, were phased out, but two new ones were offered, the torpedo runabout and the open runabout. These two differed from the others by having curved fenders, a longer hood, lower seating, and a round 16-gallon fuel tank on the rear deck. The torpedo runabout had doors, while the open runabout did not. The late Les Henry, a renowned Model T historian, wrote that these runabouts “had undoubtedly the best performance and greatest speed of all Model T Fords ever produced.”

Mechanical changes were also applied to these Model Ts. A new rear axle with cast-iron center housing was introduced, and the front axle received new spindles. Most prominent was a mid-year change to the engine. Replacing the earlier exposed valves were new valve chambers cast into the block with steel doors, to enable adjustments when needed.

This Model T Runabout is the more desirable torpedo version, built with doors. It was restored by well-known collector Clyde Ensor Sr. in the 1970s and was purchased as a rolling chassis. Mr. Ensor acquired the necessary authentic parts to complete the restoration from such respected Model T sources as Arthur Howell and James Finney. After completion, in 1987, it was rewarded with an AACA National First Prize.

Ford had not adopted black as its “any color” in 1911, so this car is in the standard deep blue offered that year, with an attractive light grey pinstripe. It has the correct gas headlights with a running-board-mounted generator. The side lamps and taillight are kerosene-fueled Neverout units, with the latter mounted on a correct Neverout bracket, which carries the license plate. The black buttoned leather upholstery remains supple and unmarred, and a black pyramid-pattern rubber mat lines the floor. Instrumentation in the car consists solely of a brass Stewart speedometer.

As the car dates back to April 1911, it is one of the first with the closed-valve engine, and with its torpedo body style and highly authentic condition, it ranks with the most coveted of Model T Fords. This car has been lovingly cared for by the family for more than 40 years, and it runs well and presents proudly.

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