Ford Model T Track Roadster Mackenzie

In the beginning, building street rods was an intensely personal hobby, with no professional builders or parts makers available. As a result, the cars were often built by surprisingly talented individuals, whose skill and craftsmanship was revealed by the result.

Jerry Mackenzie of Indianapolis was just such an artisan with the inspiration to build the definitive “T” roadster. Starting in the early 1950s, he searched for a good original car to begin with and after months of searching, during his regular drive to work in late 1952, he finally spotted the windshield of a T in a wrecking yard. It turned out to be a roadster pickup – not what he was looking for – but he bought it immediately for $50 and drove it home. Over the next 18 months, he built what is considered today to be one of the best T roadsters of the period.

Mackenzie started by discarding the frame and building his own rigid box-section unit with lightening holes and removable tubular cross members. To this, he fitted a 1934 Ford front suspension with 1932 radius rods along with a 1941 Ford rear end that was reversed and flipped over so the spring would mount in front. Brakes are 1941 Mercury, steering is a Ross center section unit and virtually all the running gear was chrome plated. The drivetrain started with a bored out 274 cubic inch. 1951 Ford flathead V8 with a longer-stroke 1951 Mercury crank, fitted with Edmunds 8:1 compression heads and an Edelbrock Super intake topped with a pair of Ford two-barrel carburetors. The valve train includes an Isky Track Grind cam, Lincoln valve springs and stock valves, while ignition is via a Mallory distributor, coil and condenser and the transmission is a three-speed 1939 Ford unit.

The stock roadster pickup body was retained, with the cargo bed replaced by a tail section similar to that of a 1925 T. The grille is from a FWD Miller racecar and the nose and hood are custom fabricated to match. The windshield is the stock T unit, chopped and framed. Taillights are 1953 Buick and wheels are 1941 Mercury. The bodywork was by Bob Metz, of Shelbyville, Indiana and the interior was antique ivory Naugahyde, originally by Elmer Ingle of Indianapolis, Indiana. Two colors were chosen – 1949 Kaiser Indian Ceramic and 1953 Ford Sunshine Yellow.

Upon completion, Mackenzie first showed the car at the 1954 Indianapolis Custom Auto Show, earning first place in the hot rod class. In September that same year, the T was the subject of a four-page feature in Rod & Custom. As word spread, other features followed, including Hot Rod in May 1956 and again in July 1959, after Jerry sold the car to Bob Reuther. Andy Southard, Jr. also featured the car in the book Hot Rods of the 1950s.

Although little is known of the intervening history, its prior owner embarked on a comprehensive program of research and restoration during the early 2000s, with the intent of returning the car just the way it was when Jerry Mackenzie finished it. Today, it is nothing short of spectacular with an exceptional restoration that retains the character and workmanship of this one-of-a-kind early rod. Moreover, it is recognized by the AACA as a certified competition vehicle and it is certainly one of the crown jewels in the world of historic street rods.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in September 2009 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California.

Est. 225 bhp, 274 cu. in. 1951 Ford Flathead V8 engine with dual two-barrel carburetors, 1939 Ford three-speed transmission, 1934 Ford solid axle front suspension, 1941 Ford leaf spring and live axle rear suspension, and four-wheel 1941 Mercury hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 104"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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