Perhaps there have been more jokes about the Model T than there werecars produced.
It first appeared on the scene on Oct. 1, 1908. Itwas like a faithful servant and was treated like a family friend.
Affectionately, she had become, firstly, "tin Lizzie" and then "Lizzie," and thus she was to remain.
The Model T is not a joke to several Maryland car buffs who gathered for the 11th Annual Model T Ford Car Show and Picnic last Sunday at the home of Clayton and EvalineMiller in Woodbine. They all shared one thing in common, their love for the Model T.
Clayton Miller is president of the Heart of Maryland Model T Ford Society. The 30-plus members and their families meeteach year at his place to show their cars, sit around and talk, mostly about their pride and joy, the Model T.
In addition to the annual picnic, the club has tours, both local and long distance. Members have driven their Model T's from Maryland to national meetings in Minneapolis, Toronto, even Alaska. In July 1992, the International Tour will be held in Frederick. Members will have several daily tours during the week to places like Gettysburg, Pa., and Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
It is safe to say Miller loves the Model T. He has six of them, all different models. The oldest car is a 1916 Touring car. His other models include a 1922 Roadster, 1925 Coupe, 1927 Roadster, 1927 Coupe and a 1927 Depot Hack.
Miller fell in love with the Ford while he was still in high school. But the Model T wasn't his first car.
"In 1955 I brought a Model A in good running shape to drive back and forth to school," Miller recalled. "I brought parts from Montgomery Ward to keep it going."
It wasn't until 1967 that Miller bought his first Model T. Since then, his collection has grown to the six cars hehas today.
"The Model T is really a unique car," Miller said, explaining why he preferred collecting Model T's over other cars. "It isthe most different car you'll ever drive. It has three pedals on thefloor and it's an experience to drive one."
But why do they select the Model T over the Model A?
"The Model T is a challenge to drive," explained Miller. "The pace is so much slower. It is different to drive. You see things along the road you never saw before, no matter how many times you pass it.
"The car is very road-worthy, every hill is a challenge."
Model T owner John Dudderar of Sykesville agreed.
"It is tricky at first," Dudderar said. "Going up a long hill without changing gears is a major accomplishment."
There were more than 20 Model T's on display Sunday, including a 1923 Roadster owned by the 70-year-old Dudderar. Folks like him made the picnic even more enjoyable as they sat around telling stories about the Model T.
Dudderar remembers the days of the Model T as well as anyone.
"My daddy had a 1917 Model T," Mr Dudderar recalls. "He was one of the first Carroll County rural mail carriers and he brought his car new. He drove the car 30 years."
Dudderar worked for the Baltimore CityWater Department for 21 years and the Springfield State Hospital for17 years and retired from both jobs. Now he spends much of his sparetime with his car.
"I always had the old Model T pieces and a '27chassis and motor around, but I always wanted a show car."
In 1983, Dudderar found his car, a 1923 Roadster.
"I went to Gettysburg,Pa., to see it. It looked good, the piece was tremendous, he recalled. "We decided to buy it. It was a car that we had saved for."
Thecar was not cheap, added Dudderar, though he didn't reveal the price.
Dudderar, like the other members of the club, enjoy touring withtheir Model T's. He takes the car out about once a week for a spin, if the weather is good. He has toured to shows in Westminster and Arcadia and Hunt Valley in Baltimore County.
The Model T has been called the greatest single model in automobile history. Most importantly, it opened up a new way of life for working-class families. Initially, the car sold for $850. But by 1914, Henry Ford had perfected the continuous moving assembly line and the prices decreased to $440 for the Runabout.
More than 15 million were built. The car is 7 feet tall and has a wheelbase of 8 feet, 4 inches -- certainly strange proportions in our day. Nevertheless, with its four-cycle, 20-horsepower motor, it furnished cheap, dependable transportation.
The last Model T was produced in 1927. Today, Model T's in show condition cost well into the thousands.
But thanks to men like Clayton Miller and John Dudderar, the car that shaped the automobile industry continues tolive.