Model T’s Keep Chuggin’

Photos by Jim Langan

“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

The great industrialist Henry Ford authored those words in his 1922 autobiography, “My Life and Work,” describing his motivation for developing the Model T. More than 90 years later, a group of Model T and Model A owners from Kansas City, – the KC Chuggers Model T Ford Club – are keeping Ford’s words alive and enjoying “God’s great open spaces” with their families.

Two Fridays ago, Falls City’s brick-covered Stone Street provided a resting point for the Chuggers, as nearly 30 Model T and Model A’s rolled into town just after the noon hour for lunch at A&G Steakhouse and Pizza. The Chuggers, on a tour north to Lincoln’s Smith Collection Museum of American Speed, stopped to eat and stretch out a bit before finishing the 100-mile second leg.

Gary and Carol Hylton, Prairie Village, Kansas, passed through Falls City April 25 in this 1919 Model T Touring Ames. The Hyltons belong to the Kansas City Chuggers, a group of Model T and Model A owners from the Kansas City area, and stopped in FC on their way to Lincoln’s Smith Collection Museum of American Speed.

 Chuggers Gary and Carol Hylton of Prairie Village, Kansas said Falls City was chosen as a  stopping point after Gary and Chuggers Tour Chairman Frank Kelley detailed and planned  the trip back in late January. However, the “Speedway Tour,” as this trip was called, has  been an idea since January of 1993 when “Speedy” Bill Smith of Lincoln’s Speedway  Motors brought much of his Model T collection to the Chuggers annual meeting. It was  during that trip to Kansas City that Smith extended an invitation to the Smith Collection  and Museum of American Speed, founded a year earlier at 599 Oak Creek Drive in  Lincoln.  The museum, which is now more than 150,000 square feet of display space,  houses  thousands of after market accessories and speed equipment for the Ford Model  T, including the five millionth Model T to roll off the Ford assembly line.

 Now, more than 20 years later, the trip finally happened.  

 The Hylton’s arrived in Falls City in their 1919 Model T Touring, which featured an Ames    aftermarket body. It was one of 286,935 produced in 1919, originally available in the  color  black and sold for $525. It averaged 16-20 miles per gallon and traveled at an  average  speed of 30-35 miles per hour.

 Mr. Hylton said he and his wife have taken their 1919 Ames to California three times,  Detroit once and even had the vehicle shipped to Europe two different times for tours of  France and Italy, which he said were the most memorable.

“Driving those roads in Italy and France, with the scenery and history, was just remarkable,” Mr. Hylton said, describing his love of old cars as simply, “personal interest.” He purchased his first Model T while in high school in the early 1950’s and during the summers of 1954 and 1955 he worked on the production line at a plant in Independence, Missouri.

“Gary contacted me about a good place to eat and we were able to get them to Falls City,” Falls City Chamber and Main Street Executive Director David Branch said. Branch added that the newly restored Grand Weaver Hotel served as a selling point and its convenient proximity to A&G allowed the Chuggers to park and walk to lunch.

Parking stalls between Harlan and Stone on 18th Street were blocked off and the first vehicles arrived around 12:15 p.m.

Branch hoped the group would like what they saw and return to Falls City, perhaps for the Cobblestone Festival Car Show held annually in August.


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