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Model T Ford Torpedo on Ice – Brattleboro Vermont

We are experiencing an old-fashioned winter here in Vermont, and after a recent January thaw another cold snap has moved in right behind it and is the perfect time for a wintertime image. The Old Motor is published in Brattleboro, Vermont, and this photo courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society contains a 1911 Model “T” Ford “Torpedo,” and its occupants and four skaters are enjoying a pleasant day on the Connecticut River. The town is located on the left-side the image behind the railroad tracks, and Hinsdale, New Hampshire, on the right.

The stamped and painted license plate dates the photo to the mid-teens or possibly the twenties. The “Torpedo” has led a hard life, and the front end sheet metal and the radiator have been the victims of at least one accident. The doors and the sides of the cowl have been removed and replaced with canvas. The photograph below via the Model T Ford Club of America shows a “Torpedo” complete with the body side panels and doors.

Tell us what you find of interest in this set of photographs.

16 responses to “Model T Ford Torpedo on Ice – Brattleboro Vermont

  1. It is fascinating to see ( gg map ) that the line of border enters the vt and nh is not in the middle of the river like here inter provincial . Who maintains the shore at this place ?

  2. This photo could (theoretically) have been made at Georgetown Lake, just outside Georgetown, Colorado. The lake still hosts various automotive ice-racing events. There’s a Porsche club autocross there next Sunday!

  3. With slick tyres on an ice surface it would have been interesting just getting the car to drive. The girls would have to be careful not to lean too hard on the car in case it slid sideways.

  4. With the canvas on it, one really tell for certain. However, in all probability, it is not a torpedo roadster, but an “open” roadster also made during the 1911 model year run. Both the torpedo and open roadsters used the unique to only those two style’s fenders, running.boards (requiring a special frame with brackets located differently than all other body styles), longer hood different firewall and brackets, transmission pedals, steering column, body, seat, gasoline tank, top etc etc etc. Except for the body sub-structure, front edge of the seat, and doors, most all parts between the torpedo and open roadsters are alike. However, nearly half the car is unique to only those two bodies. The body side structure, and doors are not easily removable from the torpedo roadster. The doors themselves could be removed by removing the hinge screws, however the side panels are attached directly to the sub-structure, and short of a sledge hammer or big saw are not removable.
    Removable panels and doors were made after-market for 1911 and earlier open-front touring cars and runabouts, and were standard equipment during the 1912 model year touring cars (after which Ford used permanent front sections on the standard open bodies).
    Because the canvas is there, I cannot see the sub-structure or front edge of the seat. But most likely it would be the open runabout. There would be little reason to use canvas covers on the torpedo body.
    Regardless, a wonderful photo of a rare and desirable early Ford! Thank you David G.

  5. The license plate is either 1916 or 1918. 1910-1915 weren’t embossed and had the year on the plate in various locations. 1916 was white-on-blue with just VT on the right (no year), 1917 was blue-on-white with VT on the right (so it wouldn’t look like the plate in the picture), and 1918 was yellow-on-green with VT on the right. In 1919, they started putting the year on the plate again, which lasted through 1967.

    • Also, the Vermont Historical Society’s Leahy Library apparently has copies of the list of registered motor vehicles for both 1916 and 1918, but they don’t appear to be digitized/available on-line. If anyone’s a member or really interested in the vehicle/owner, the VHS might be a good place to inquire for more information.

  6. Model “T” ‘s were thermo-syphon cooling only, (without water pump, without Thermostat, Not so bad for Winter as the temp had to be really, really lower before the radiator had to be partially blocked off, to allow the engine to have enough heat to run efficiently. This picture must be on the (odd )”warmer” day. Summer was just the opposite, prone to boil, especially if not maintained properly! , — but : accessory water pumps were of some assistance , depending upon their design and the engine’s condition circumstances . SO easy to blame the “T” stories on the car were common — when most times, it was/is — a lack of responsible care for the “T”.
    Edwin W.

  7. Very interesting. Having lived right on the bank of the river some 65 miles north of here for more than 20 years, I never recall any skating being done on the river. I don’t even have any clear vision of it being frozen all the way across but that may just be my memory of things 60 to 70 years ago not being that clear!

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