Ford's Model T: Still amazing at 107

DETROIT — After age 100, it’s hard to find new angles for celebrating a birthday.

But volunteers at the historic Ford Piquette Plant thought the 107th anniversary of the Model T, which bowed in 1908, needed some recognition. They settled on an open house to honor the iconic car and invited Model T enthusiasts to attend.

Barry Cogan was among the Model T owners who brought their cars Sept. 27 to the beautifully restored plant on Piquette east of Woodward Avenue, in what once was a busy center of car production. Cogan parked his 1912 Model T touring car just inside the courtyard of the three-story building and offered rides to arriving guests.

>>Browse a photo gallery of the Model T birthday party

Inside, volunteer guides moved among the vehicles explaining their features and answering questions.

A full-size facsimile of an early wooden car body – a tonneau with rear-entrance – showed how car bodies for many years were made before receiving metal skins.

Wood body for early car

Early car bodies were made of wood, which was then covered with a skin of metal. (Jenny King / Special to The Detroit News)

Drawings of Ford patented components decorated the walls.

A National Historic Landmark plaque from the National Park Service underscored the importance of the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, the oldest extant Ford factory. It read, in part: “Here the Ford Motor Company initially achieved quantity production of technically-advanced, inexpensive automobiles.” The plaque cites the Model T Ford as “the most significant car in the history of automobile industry.”

Friends of the volunteer-run museum set up a refreshment table with six flavors of pop and a large cake from the Mexican Town Bakery noting anniversary number, 107.

Turnout was light in the early afternoon. Organizers said this was a first celebration of its kind and that perhaps next year might draw a larger crowd of guests and a few more Model Ts.

1909 Ford Model T Town Car

A museum volunteer, kneeling, does a thorough once-over of this 1909 Ford Model T Town Car for guests. (Jenny King / Special to The Detroit News)