TBT: The 10 Millionth Model T Was a Cross-Country Rock Star

Jun 20, 2024

Throughout its lengthy production run, the Model T stood as a model of durability. The Universal Car was also incredibly popular, so when Ford reached the 10 million production milestone 100 years ago this month, the company sent the car on a promotional cross-country journey befitting the Model T’s wide appeal. 

By 1924, Ford had refined Model T production to the point where it could produce one million Model Ts in just six months – the million cars including No. 10 million were built in just 132 working days – and there would be some 15 million of them produced by the time of the car’s discontinuation in 1927. Further proving the Model T’s popularity, this sales record would stand for more than four decades. 

The standard Model T touring car that would traverse the country, also the first vehicle to boast an eight-digit production figure, left Ford’s Highland Park Plant on June 4, 1924. After inspection in Dearborn by Henry and Edsel Ford, the car was shipped to New York City, where it would depart for San Francisco via the Lincoln Highway. 

This wasn’t the first time the Model T had proven itself on a transcontinental voyage. The expedition was similar to the one made in 1909 by two early Model Ts that beat out high-priced American and foreign makes in a competition over the nation’s patchwork of poorly conditioned roads in a show of the car’s supreme durability. One of the drivers, Frank Kulick, would reprise his role behind the wheel for the 10 millionth’s voyage across the country. 

Beginning the journey

Thousands of New Yorkers were on hand as the Model T departed Ford’s headquarters there on June 16, the company’s 21st anniversary, down Broadway to Times Square. Large crowds welcomed the Model T’s procession through each locale, which included Ford dealers who were escorting the vehicle from town to town. The landmark automobile was also greeted by city and state officials at each of its stops. Another Model T, outfitted with cameras, trailed the main attraction while documenting the journey. The Model T’s stops along the trip included the playing of a film featuring scenes of the milestone car’s assembly and other scenes recorded before it left Detroit. 

The 10 millionth car arrived in San Francisco some six weeks later, as Kulick hand-delivered a letter from New York City’s mayor addressed to the mayor of San Francisco. The car averaged 110 miles per day over the course of the nearly 4,000-mile trip and suffered no mechanical issues. Several million spectators were estimated to have joined in the various parades of cars that tagged along for the historic excursion, which was extended to include the Pacific Northwest cities of Portland and Seattle.   

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The historic Model T would repeat this journey twice under private ownership in celebration of the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the original trip. Today, a team from the Museum of American Speed in Nebraska are recreating the journey with a vehicle currently on loan from the owner’s family. If you’re looking to make your own cross-country trek this summer, or even a much shorter road trip, visit the BlueCruise trip planner to plot a route that makes use of our highly-rated hands-free driving technology.

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