1912 Ford Model T Ambulance

During World War I, the Allies used thousands of Model T cars and trucks because of their low cost and ease of repair. The ambulance version's light weight made it well-suited for use on the muddy and shell-torn roads in forward combat areas. If stuck in a hole, a group of soldiers could lift one without much difficulty. By Nov. 1, 1918, 4,362 Model T ambulances had been shipped overseas.

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Specifications

VIN: 257885
License #: HC7164
Engine: 4 cylinder, 4 cycle, internal combustion gasoline engine, cast-in-bloc, 3 crank main bearings, "L" head with 2 side valves per cylinder, splash lubricated, water cooled
Engine Displacement: 177 cubic inches - 2.9 liter
Horsepower: 20-22 BHP 21600 max RPM
Engine Torque: 83 FT-Lbs @ 900 RPM
Ingnition System: Commutated 4 coil vibrating reed system. Electricity from 6 Volt batteries or flywheel mounted magneto delivering from 4 to nearly 30 VAC
Max. Speed: Approx. 45 MPH, normal cruise 35 - 40 MPH
Wheelbase & Track: 100 inch x 56 inch
Length & Width: 134 inch x 66 inch
Weight: 1300 lbs
Status Static Display - Functional/Operating
Owner: Estrella Warbird Museum

History

The light wooden body was mounted on a standard Model T auto chassis. The 4-cylinder engine produced about 20 hp. There was no self-starter; the engine had to be cranked by hand. This vehicle was equipped with an early form of automatic transmission and could carry three litters or four seated patients and two more could sit with the driver. Model T’s originally had no electronics at all. The headlamps were Carbide Gas, running lights and rear lights were oil lamps. There was no battery, and the engine high tension was created by a magneto, connecting to the four spark plugs. Canvas "pockets" covered the litter handles that stuck out beyond the tailgate. Many American field service and Red Cross volunteer drivers, including writers Ernest Hemingway and Bret Harte and cartoonist Walt Disney drove Model T ambulances.

"Hunka Tin," a poem written as a parody on Rudyard Kipling's "Gunga Din," appeared in the American Field Service Bulletin and was used in Ford dealers' advertising throughout the United States. The final stanza read:

Yes, Tin, Tin, Tin.
You exasperating puzzle, Hunka Tin.
I've abused you and I've flayed you,
But by Henry Ford who made you,
You are better than a Packard, Hunka Tin.

The US Army utilized the Model T’s for service in 1916, along the Mexican border. There were over 15 Million Model T Fords made between the years 1908, and 1927. In 1917 alone, there were over 390,000 T trucks delivered to the US Army! As you are probably aware, Henry Ford himself, was dead against the war. He was one of the leading figures in the “Keep America Out of the War” movement. Even so, Ford did not go as far as to refuse to sell running chassis to the Military, but he just made sure that Ford Motor company itself, did not manufacture the military body parts. After all, Ford was a shrewd businessman. Ford supplied the chassis, engine and running gear, including bonnet and firewall (front bulkhead)....these were then taken to various body and carriage makers who made the appropriate body for which ever branch of service was to use the vehicle, and as to the usage - ambulance conversions, machine gun car conversions, and utility vehicle conversions, both T truck and standard chassis vehicles.The Model “ T” in military service was the most common type of utility truck in the US Army. Most of the trucks were based on the heavy duty Model T “1 ton truck chassis”.

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