An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Images from the Rouge: Edsel Ford’s “T-99” Speed Boat

The history of the Ford Motor Company River Rouge Plant has been covered here in the past. Starting today we will be featuring photos of the Complex in a new series of images covering interesting scenes at the Plant, on the assembly line, and views of the equipment and machinery.

We start out here with the lead photo, an enlargement off Edsel Ford’s T-99 speed boat visible (below) racing by the complex on the River Rouge. Edsel was a power and sail boat enthusiast and owned a number of them in his time, and even commuted back and forth from home to work with his boats.

A brief search to find more information about the T-99 did not turn up much other than what kind of engine the boat may have been powered by. It was found in a quote in Chapter Seven “150-Mile Race – Gar Wood and the International Sweepstakes Races 1923-26” in “Speed Boat Kings” by J. Lee Barrett  covering the purse for the first race:

“Ford was interested. His son, Edsel, had been experimenting with some converted Liberty engines (in his boats.) Walden (Colonel Sidney D. VP of Packard) pointed to the Indianapolis automobile races as a laboratory of engine development. “We want the same thing in the marine field,” he said. “We want to develop boat engines.”

Learn more about Edsel’s boat house and the watercraft he owned in “Boat House Part I” (below) produced by the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House. 

Share with us what you find of interest or can add to this post and the photograph courtesy of The Henry Ford.


10 responses to “Images from the Rouge: Edsel Ford’s “T-99” Speed Boat

  1. That triple cockpit “Typhoon” with the rolled gunwales is just gorgeous. Does anyone here know if it was a Greavette?

  2. I did a quick search on “Edsel Ford speedboat 999,” and came up with the following, from “Henry’s Lieutenants,” (p107): “While Edsel Ford, in 1924, was racing his 999 speedboat at Miami, Florida, and winning the McAllister Hotel Sweepsteaks using a World War I, twelve-cylinder Liberty aircraft engine . . . ”

    An entry in the Woodyboater blog also mentions that the 999 was one of a fleet of wooden, Liberty-powered speedboats Ford was experimenting with in the early twenties, the others being the Goldfish, the Woodfish, and the Greyhound Jr. But the 999 caught fire and nearly killed two drivers in the August, 1924 Gold Cup Races on the Detroit River. Apparently that accident was what got the Fords out of speedboat design.

  3. Nine Ninety-Nine was built for Edsel by John Hacker, and used a Liberty reduced in displacement to 1350 ci. It won the 1924 Southern Regatta at Miami Beach with an average speed of 45 miles per hour “without being pushed,” per MotorBoating’s April 1924 issue. At the 1924 APBA Gold Cup 150-mile race in Detroit at the end of August, the boat caught fire and sank on the 18th lap per the October 1924 issue of Yachting.

  4. It has been reported that Henry and Edsel had a 24 cylinder X motor built and tested for a boat, but not a lot more is known to me.

  5. That sure looks like the aft end of Henry’s boat, Evangeline, on the left side of the second image. Another Hacker creation and a beauty at that.

  6. The engine that built Lincoln! W C Durant refused to make war materials during WWI, so Henry Leland left the company to form Lincoln Motors and produce the basically Packard designed Liberty V12.

  7. I’m sure the boss arriving for work in his Liberty engined speedboat inspired all those Ford workers to work just that extra bit harder.

Leave a Reply to Mad Dog Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *