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The Attractive Paco Ford Racing Body for the Track and the Road

In 1915, six years after the Model “T” first came on the market, inexpensive used or wrecked Ford’s were being converted into racing cars and speedsters. The Peoria Accessory Co. of Peoria, Illinois, introduced a new Ford racing body on the market in 1915. Then and now it is considered by many to be one of the most attractive bodies of this type offered for the early Ford chassis ever produced.

Paco described the design as being like those “seen on American tracks during the last summer” and went on to attribute the shape of the tail of the coachwork as being “designed after the Du Chesneau (French) style rear end.” The side-by-side seating position in two-man racing bodies of the period did not allow much in the way of shoulder and arm space, and Paco wisely adopted staggered seats that gave the driver enough elbow room to man handle a racing car on the dirt tracks and rough roads of the era.

  • Early pre-1913 Ford Model “T” chassis fitted with a Paco Speedster body, side skirts and wheel discs, the fenders and running boards are standard Ford items of the period.

The 222-pound body was constructed of 20-gauge steel with the sides strengthened by using a double layer of metal; with the skirts that cover the sides of the frame the bodywork cost $125 when introduced in 1915. The speedster shown in the photographs was also fitted with a set of inner and outer Paco sheet metal wheel discs that attached to the felloe of standard Ford wooden wheels with screws and period fenders by the automaker.

The company moved to Galesburg, Illinois in 1917 and was active through 1920; no Paco advertising of any type was to be found in the automotive press past that date which may indicate that the Company ended its operations or manufactured parts and accessories for other firms.

Learn more in the Model “T” Ford Speed and Racing Equipment Series here on The Old Motor.

  • Advertisement in the March 3, 1916, issue of Automobile Trade Journal above, and below in the Motor Age July 10, 1919.

 

25 responses to “The Attractive Paco Ford Racing Body for the Track and the Road

  1. We thought hot rodding started after WW II and the Ford V8 was the hot engine. Fascinating to think it started long before but still with a Ford engine.

    • Dave, Yes it did and the term “hot rod” came into use in the early teens when a Model “T” was used for fast driving or in races. Without modification and improvements to the oiling system that fed undersized bearings, the rod bearings would soon get hot and if it was not detected in time, some of the babbitt rod bearings would soon partially melt and become a “hot rod.”

      • ‘Hot rod’ is similar to the term used (in England at least) for an overheated plain bearing on a steam locomotive – ‘Hot box’… referring to the bearing box on the chassis. It’s interesting how these things are coined. What was once a problem, becomes the term for improving the power, hence ‘hot rodding’ a car or bike.

  2. David, I am going to gently disagree with you, since there’s no real way to prove either of us right or wrong!

    From a 2009 post at jalopyjournal.com:

    “I have read pre and post war mags, letters to the editor, the cars were called ‘gow jobs,’ then later ‘jobers” after that ‘hot jobs.’ I have also read that the term ‘hot rod’ was coined by the press when reporting on auto accedents. It was said that it may have been a typo of ‘hot jobs.’ Being called a ‘hotrodder’ was like being called a hoodlum.”

    This meshes with my beliefs regarding the original of the term. Others have claimed that it grew out of the SoCal dry lakes scene (which was mostly post WWII) where hopped-up cars were called ‘hot roadsters,’ later shortened to ‘hot rods.’

    In any event, I think the term ‘hot rod’ wasn’t used much before WWII and likely wasn’t used at all in pre-Depression times. It would be fun to locate the earliest use of the word in print, wouldn’t it?

    • Gregory, I have read a few references similar to this quote in the past and most of them seem to focus on the 1930s and the 1940s time period out West. Being a Model “T” Ford racing historian and enthusiast for the last 45-years, in the past I was able to talk to more than several real “Old Timers” here in the Northeast that were involved in rebuilding Ford engines and racing Ford’s in the teens and twenties. They referred to a “hot rod” as a term that was used in the period for fast Model T speedsters and racings cars because most of them a some point would end up with a “hot rod” or rods when some of the babbitt bearings that were pushed to hard and actually melted. They did tell me that the term soon (by early 1920s) came to mean a fast and powerful road or racing car.

      It could have been a regional term at first, which slowly spread across the country by traveling professional racers, and finally became more popular in the thirties and forties.

  3. I wonder what kind of output a really modified T could produce. What was the rev limit. I know Soichiro raced a turbocharged Ford, probably an A, but that was a bit more advanced than a T.

    • Thirty-five to forty horsepower was produced by using some of the early eight valve heads and a good carb on a standard engine.

      With a full race DOHC racing engine, I believe that something over 100 h.p. is obtainable at about 2500 rpm.

      I have two “T” racing engines and one of them is a sleeved down 3-7/16″ bore (original bore size 3-3/4″) racing engine w/short “slipper” pistons with two narrow rings, “T” rods and a heavier counter balanced crankshaft w/full oil pressure. This type of T racing engine was built at the time because is was possible to quickly spin them up to about 3500 rpm and allowed the driver get a jump off of the end of a corner ahead of other competitors.

      Check out “The Kay Fleischmann Special – A Jewel-Like Early Supercharged Racing Car” to see just how developed Ford “T” racing cars became @ http://theoldmotor.com/?p=99626

      • Thanks much David, very informative. Did the DOHC heads copy something in Europe. Chain driven? Will look at your link, sounds fun.
        100 hp! Jeez!

      • Looked at your link and I am a bit puzzled. Why would anyone go to all that trouble to modify a ‘T’ when using an ‘A’ as the base would seem to be a better approach in 1931. What secret did the ‘T’ hold? Especially true since he seemed to be running up against a Duesy!

        • The Model “T” racing car and racing engines had been refined over a 20+ year time frame and at this point were more developed and lighter than Model”A” based cars and OHV engines. The Depression also limited the production of racing parts.

          • That makes a lot of sense, but I guess Soichiro Honda thought different with his supercharged racer a bit later. I guess most of that went to the wayside once the V-8 came out, despite all of its inherent design flaws (overheating anyone?). So, how long did the modified ‘T’s’ remain competitive?

  4. The term Hot rod was first a derogatory term to the hop up crowd. Supe job or gow job was more common. Hot rod was eventually accepted post WW2. Look up Hopup magazine for more interesting old hopped up cars.

  5. The curved outter section of a wheel is spelled felloe or felly, not fellow.

    Edwin, Thanks for catching my “Typo of the Day.”

  6. The company received a design patent for their auto body on January 23, 1917.

    There is a well researched article on the PACO bodies on Coachbuilt. Although the writer doesn’t state the origin of the company name, it seems likely it comes from the firm’s full name: (P)eoria (A)ccessory (Co)mpany. The article also states that by 1919 the company had moved back to Peoria, and that they continued producing bodies into at least into 1923 and possibly as late as 1924.

    An original Paco body is up for auction on eBay for $6,995. The bodies are also being reproduced , and they are also being sold on eBay for $6,950.

  7. Returning to the term “hotrod”: regardless of its origin, the origin of the hotrod movement traces back to the Model T and those thousands of kids and backyard mechanics who created the “Fast Ford” movement with cutdowns, coachbuilt bodies like the PACO, modified heads, drivetrains, whatnot. A unique American expression of creativity!

    • Hardly uniquely American, Ronald. Most of the cars at Brooklands were expressions of their builders’ creativity. The home built racing car was the norm in the early days. I’m sure it was a similar scene in mainland Europe too. Especially as they had the jump on us Brits by not having the hated ‘Red Flag Act’ in motoring’s developing years. There was no incentive to make your car faster if you had to have a man walking in front carrying a red flag. Even after the repeal, and the raising of speed limits a little, which didn’t reach 20mph till 1920, there were frequent speed traps. It was because of these restrictions and that public highways couldn’t be legally used for racing that the Brooklands circuit was built (opened in 1907, as the first purpose built racing circuit – In mainland Europe, they held races on roads, often not closed to other traffic, and often as ‘point to point’ events between towns or cities). That ‘new’ higher 20mph limit lasted till 1930 on the public roads (but was widely flouted.)

  8. I don’t think anyone has found the term “Hot Rod” in print any were pre WWII. Hot Irons is the closest I’ve seen in a feature on Dry Lakes racing in a 1937-38 auto trade magazine that is misplaced around here some were. Bob

  9. A Paco body found its way to my Dad & Uncle’s 1914 (used )Model “T” Roadster. They also ordered: A high speed (low numerical ratio) Ring & Pinion Gear Set., a special inlet manifold & carburetor , and an exhaust cut-out setup: Their speed exceed 45 MPH!!! with her” ears pulled down”! They were very proud of their first ticket —( but not of any of the rest! ) Two “rich boys” driving a Cadillac Roadster — forced them off of the dirt road and into a wet field — smiled, laughed —and kept on going! Well, That did it! : They pulled their “treasure” out onto the road again — only to find the 2 same boys eating lunch at an outside café in the next town: The Paco Ford Boys —wanting to Inform the Cadillac Boys that their “road manners behavior” was not acceptable — told them so —( as public service, of course) The Cadillac boys took umbrage, and they “got their clocks cleaned”—and had to apologize for their rotten behavior! The Paco “T” Racer boys were never bothered by that Cadillac again. End of PACO story, circa: 1923. Edwin W.

  10. Hi David – In response to your comment about the origins of the DOHC engine, one has only to look to the revolutionary 1912 Peugeot, one of which won the Indianapolis 500 in 1913. American engineers quickly realized that their large, slow revving T-Heads were no longer the answer and immediately began to copy European racing designs from Mercedes, Sunbeam, Delage as well as Peugeot. Overhead valves quickly became the way to go. Certainly one of the most influential designers was Louis Chevrolet , with his Monroe-Frontenac racers, and eventually aftermarket speed equipment (also called Frontenac or “Fronty”), that evolved into the powerful engines that raced well into the 1930’s.

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