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Foley-Carter Insurance Agency Model “T” Ford “House Car”

This colorized postcard image was produced for the Foley-Carter Insurance Agency located at 465 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida. The “House Car” complete with flowers appears to have been constructed by a talented model maker on an early black radiator Model “T” Ford chassis. Eighty or more years ago before the vinyl car wrap, it was somewhat normal to have an attention getter like this circulating the streets of a city to drum up business. Tell us what you find of interest here.

Look back at The Model “T” Ford – The Perfect House Car to view two more Fords put to the same use.

17 responses to “Foley-Carter Insurance Agency Model “T” Ford “House Car”

  1. I wonder if Foley or Carter drove that home every night. With a single digit phone number, I would guess this is before WW I.

    • I think the war was why they did away with brass out front. Then pressed, painted steel was the norm for radiators, along with a rounded hood top. The rear fenders however, I believe look to be ’14 or earlier. Demountable clincher type rims (these are not) weren’t offered until ’19. P.S. I wasn’t there. ;o)

  2. “With a single digit phone number, I would guess this is before WW I.”

    Maybe the phone number was assigned before WWII. The chassis has to be 1917 or later…

  3. Wayne Carini of “Chasing Classic Cars” had one of the Ford house cars which he and Rodger drove to lunch one day. Sorry, I don’t know which edition this was.

  4. Kind of reminds me of Wayne Carini’s 1920 Model T house car. Posting links is not allowed, but I think I can suggest a quick google of “Wayne Carini’s house car.”

  5. Not automotive, must be noted though, those flowers aren’t plastic. Also wonder what the third condition of coverage is. Baggage? Saggage??

  6. For whatever it is worth, I notice several things of interest in this picture.
    First, as would be expected for such an “artistically enhanced” real photo postcard, the photo quality is very poor. It made it easier to blend the artistic enhancement and colorizing into a fuzzy photo. I have seen many black and white real photo postcards where the detail was amazing. I had one enlarged one time years ago as a gift for a friend because it had a Maxwell similar to one of his cars in it. The picture was scenic, and the Maxwell was quite small, but in the enlargement, the detail was fine enough that my friend was able to identify the horn on the car!
    No such detail in this card!
    The Ford does appear to be early. But just HOW early was it. The style of crank handle, and front spring/motor mount says it is 1920 or before. The non-demountable wheels also appear early (although, they were actually available much later, they appear to be the earlier type round felloe).
    The hood, front fenders, and the radiator do appear to be 1917 or later. However, there is something else. Look at the rear fender. It goes straight back from the top, and appears flat on the curve. That rear fender looks to be 1914 or earlier.
    My GUESS is that the chassis is ’14 or slightly earlier. Difficult to tell given the poor detail, but I think I can see a few other minor things.
    Whether the front was updated when an older chassis was modified into a rolling advertisement? Or the house was built earlier, and the front updated later simply to appear more up-to-date? Would be pure speculation.

    Another great look into early modern era history!
    David G, THANK YOU!
    Drive carefully, and enjoy W2

  7. How can you look at this without a smile. Quite a nice model of a Craftsman-style bungalow, I would love to live in the ful sized version of that.

    ….because who doesn’t need”baggage” insurance I guess. I note tornado insurance but no mention of hurricanes. Hadn’t they been invented yet?

      • That hadn’t occurred to me and sounds entirely reasonable since the S/B is unclear, much as the word “BURGLARY” also looks a bit like it could be “SUGIARY.” That said, I’ll be darned if I can find even one instance of “saggage” on the internet – at least anything not in modern parlance referring to an aging process of the female body! It does appear that “baggage insurance” as stand alone product was something folks purchased back then whereas today it’s commonly included with transport tickets, but you’d hardly think it would be be a line item equal to the others mentioned. So this may be the one, unique recorded instance of the use of the term, another first for TOM!

  8. I’ve seen the picture before and Foley-Carter sure rings a bell, but I’m fairly sure they were gone when we moved to St. Pete in 1950. My dad went to work for Prudential located in the Snell Arcade / Rutland Building at the west end of the block. 465 today is a boutique Italian Restaurant and that entire block still stands with it’s original, but repurposed buildings. Next door is the Kress building, a 5 and dime store I loved as a kid. It still has a glorious inlaid entryway and it’s cellar, one of the very few in St Pete, is today a weekend jazz club. Both buildings are Mediterranean Revival style. The 1920 Pfeil Hotel building across the street was just torn down in November and frankly, needed to be. Downtown St. Pete has done an amazing job of preserving and repurposing it’s historic structures and today is a bustling arts, dining, and entertainment destination.

    I would guess the photo of the house car was taken on the approach to the early St. Petersburg Pier which reopened in 1924 as the Famed Million Dollar Pier with the first floor of the structure being public space with huge doors to open for hurricanes to literally blow through. The style of the house is Craftsman Bungalow which was most popular in the ’20’s. My son lives in the Old Northeast neighborhood and there are many houses, including his, that resemble the one on the house car.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if your definition of saggage is right on. Sinkholes are a huge problem a little further north, but shifting and foundation cracking is very common. We live on the highest elevation in the county, basically a 74’ dune and were required to pour slab 50% thicker. Much of this area is only a few feet above sea level and the property is floating on water.

  9. A few of these era advertising cars are still found now in museums, today the rodent control people in Florida are the closest thing now, except LL Bean in Maine has a boot truck they drive around.

  10. Foley Carter Insurance Company existed well into the 1980s, moving their offices from 550 First Avenue North to 6400 Fourth Street North in the late 70s.

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