TUPPERVILLE, N.S. - George Bruce of Tupperville probably wouldn’t build a car from a kit, but find him an old automobile and he’ll put the pieces back together and get it running.
That’s because Bruce doesn’t subscribe to today’s throwaway society. He drives an old AMC, a car built by a company that was bought out by Chrysler in 1987.
But it’s not the AMC that he took out on the road recently. He pumped up the tires on something a bit older.
“This is a 1924 Model-T Ford, American car, that I purchased from a gentleman in Yarmouth,” Bruce said as he sat in the 94-year-old, 20-horsepower convertible that was one of millions mass-produced by Henry Ford. “It had been rejuvenated prior to Expo 1967 and was driven from Yarmouth to Montreal as part of the Expo celebrations.”
Even that was more than 50 years ago and it’s still working.
“This car can be identified as an American production model because there was no door on the driver’s side,” Bruce explained. “Henry Ford did that to keep costs low for the production of vehicles. Vehicles that were made in Canada were generally produced with two doors on the front because often times they were exported to other countries where right-hand drive would have been a common occurrence and necessitated a door on both sides.”
One of the things about the car that appeals to Bruce is that it hasn’t been overly restored. It’s been maintained so that you don’t have to worry so much about paint scratches or dings or marks on it.
“The shiniest car doesn’t always have the most fun,” he said. “We drive this car and we really enjoy being out with it in the nice weather.”
While it’s a very basic car, it was built with all the necessary features of the time, Bruce said.
It has low and high speeds forward, and reverse.
“There’s no throttle pedal on the floor. No gas pedal. It simply has a hand lever here that is the throttle,” he said indicating the right side of the steering column. “And it has another lever here (left side) which adjusts the spark.”
You have to retard the spark when you go to start the engine. As it’s running you advance the spark a little bit as you’re going down the highway.
“You want the spark advanced so you have more power. It runs along at about 25 miles an hour quite comfortably,” he said. “Some of the hills are a little bit to negotiate but generally speaking it can manage any hill around here in high gear and can carry four people quite comfortably.”
Bruce maneuvers the car out of the driveway, backing it onto a side lawn before easing it out onto Highway 201 pointed west on a trip to Annapolis Royal, across to Highway 1, and back down the 201 from Bridgetown.
“It’s an ideal run for a car like this,” he said. The big wheels smooth out the bumps, even on the dirt roads he takes just to look at the countryside. “The rural roads of Nova Scotia, the traffic’s not too heavy so you can manage to work with people and have a safe drive. It’s ideal for it to run on a gravel road.”
Roads back when this car was built were pretty much all gravel.
“It runs along quite comfortably on a good gravel surface,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to drive.”
In fact on some old side roads the Model-T goes places most people might not want to take their pickups. Bruce plays with the throttle and spark to keep the engine running smoothly.
“My wife and I, our children, use this car on the weekends in the summertime,” he said. “We’ve been out on many tours, to some car shows, but our focus mainly is to drive.”
They’re members of the Maritime Pre-War Car Club and attend many of the local tours in Atlantic Canada with the old Ford and are looking forward to next summer being in Prince Edward Island where the Model-T Ford International Club will be at Brudenell for a week with more than 200 Model-Ts.
In the meantime, with fall weather in the air, the old Model-T probably won’t see the road much until next spring's warm weather.