The world’s first mass-produced trucks appeared almost 100 years ago with Ford’s Model TT, which was derived from Ford’s highly successful Model T automobile. Only three were produced in 1917, and they cost $600, but interest and sales began to skyrocket in 1918.
This beautifully restored 1920 Model TT Tin Lizzy looks as good today as when it rolled off the Detroit assembly line almost 96 years ago.
By 1920 the truck was in mass production and sought after by farmers and businesses. The trucking industry was beginning to blossom, and sales reflected this with 53,787 trucks produced.
The Model TT was based almost entirely on the Model T’s frame, the difference being that the TT had a 125-inch wheelbase compared to the T’s 120-inch. It also had a slightly stronger frame.
Interestingly enough, until 1924 the trucks were produced as a chassis only, meaning that the truck was assembled with only the frame, engine and doghouse. The buyer had to make the cab and body.
This Model TT represents what many trucks of the time looked like in finished form. A wide range of bodies were custom made by the owners, from a standard truck with a bed to school buses, paddy wagons and box trucks. There was no shortage of ideas and concepts applied to the TT.
The truck seen was torn down to the frame, and everything from the frame to the engine and all mechanical parts were restored, rebuilt or replaced. Some of the work had to be custom done because no replacement parts could be found.
The truck still has its factory 177 cubic-inch, four-cylinder engine, which was way ahead of its time as it was credited as being the first flex-fuel engine. Ford called it a multi-fuel engine, meaning it could run on gasoline, kerosene, ethanol or alcohol. The engine, capable of producing 20 horsepower and a top speed of 45 mph, can still use various fuels, but it runs almost exclusively on gasoline with a little Marvel Mystery Oil added.
The truck, which is driven on a semi-regular basis, sports its original color, black – the only one available from 1912-26. Henry Ford was quoted as saying that customers could have a Model T or TT in any color they wished ... as long as it was black. Ford chose black due to its cheap cost and durability. Over the course of the Model T’s production run from 1908-27, everything on it was painted black. Ford tried more than 30 types of black paint during this time.
After years of being in the same family and countless hours of restoration work, the road-ready and dependable truck is for sale for $8,500 – not a penny less.
If you are ever in the Syracuse, Ind., area, you might pass this truck on the road.