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“Any color the customer wants, as long as it’s black.” Henry Ford

(All images are the 1924 Model T donated by Tex Webb.)

With regard to the color of the Model T's (1919 - 1925), Henry Ford is quoted for having said that “Any color the customer wants, as long as it’s black.” This quote was never published in any newspaper, rather it appears in his (co-written) autobiography, “My Life and Work,” published in 1922. Ford recounted a sales meeting in 1909 when a salesman wanted him to add even more models. Instead, Ford state "he would build only one, “and I remarked: ‘Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.’”[1] His black-only policy began in 1914, the year he cranked up his new moving assembly line. Black was the cheapest color and using a single color meant the assembly line didn't have to be shut down for a change of paint color. This policy was practiced until 1926 when some models were offered in green, maroon, and gray; all with back venders.


The 1924 Model T, or "Tin Lizzie", once belonged to Carlton "Tex" Webb. Before that it belonged to his father, John Thomas Webb, often called "JT". Jt purchased the brand-new Model T for $750.00 from Roberts Brothers. Tex remembered that the car arrived, in parts, in a wooden crate and his father put it together. JT bought the car for his wife, Mattie, so that she could stay warm traveling to church and their store. (Webb's Corner Store was later Jean's Cafe and most recently L & J's BBQ.) Until the car was operational, Mattie used to use the horse and buggy. Tex remembered that the car had cellophane curtains to protect his mom from frigid weather.


When JT purchased a Ford 1927 Coup, the Model T was put up on blocks, where it remained until 1942, when Tex fixed it up and it first appeared in an Orange parade. Tex worked on the care for several years, eventually spending well over the $750.00 cost of the car, but he was adamant it was worth every cent. In the 1970s and 80s Tex continued to ride in parades. He also gave newlyweds rides to the chapel and their receptions, something the couple and Tex thoroughly enjoyed. Tex last drove the Model T in the 1924 Christmas parade in Orange and the car has resided on its blocks for just over 28 years.


Sadly, the Model T is no longer roadworthy and needs a good bit of TLC. The Museum has neither the expertise nor the funds to mount a restoration process.

Just for Fun:


"Tex" Carlton

Carlton's nickname "Tex" came about through a Chamber of Commerce trip in 1952. He had represented the Orange Chapter as a national delegate in Dallas, Texas. While in Texas, he sent postcards to friends and family in Virginia and had jokingly signed them "Tex".




A 1922 Car Race

In the early 1900s, car dealers would try to create publicity for their new automobiles by hosting car races. In 1922 a championship race was held in Pikes Peak, Colorado. Entered as one of the contestants was Noel Bullock and his Model T, named "Old Liz."


Since Old Liz looked the worse for wear, as it was unpainted and lacked a hood, many spectators compared Old Liz to a tin can. By the start of the race, the car had the new nickname of "Tin Lizzie."

[3] Jennifer Rosenberg.



But to everyone's surprise, Tin Lizzie won the race. Having beaten even the most expensive other cars available at the time, Tin Lizzie proved both the durability and speed of the Model T. Tin Lizzie's surprise win was reported in newspapers across the country, leading to the use of the nickname "Tin Lizzie" for all Model T cars. The car also had a couple of other nicknames—"Leaping Lena" and "flivver"—but it was the Tin Lizzie moniker that stuck.




Car parts from Tex Webb's collection of Model T items:

James Madison Museum case.


SOURCES



[2] Willis, Mary L., Staff Writer, "Collector displays bits of history at James Madison Museum", "Orange County Review", December 1, 1994. Museum's file copy.


[3] Rosenberg, Jennifer. Why the Model T Is Called the Tin Lizzie, https://www.thoughtco.com/, January 3, 2019. Accessed 02/15/2023.

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