Slow ride: 200 Model Ts will roll through West­ern Pa.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Magazine & Pets - By Marie Fazio

When Si­mon Neu­bert was 9, he helped his fa­ther re­store his first Model T. By 15, he had built his own speed­ster from do­nated parts. Since then, he has re­stored a third and driven the cen­tury-old au­to­mo­bile from Pikes Peak in Colorado to the LasVe­gas Strip to Ten­nessee — even to his prom and grad­u­a­tion at Knoch High School and classes at Slip­pery Rock­Univer­sity.

Mr. Neu­bert, 24, is a mem­ber of theWestern Penn­syl­va­nia chap­ter of the Model T Ford Club In­ter­na­tional and has spent the last year and a half pre­par­ing for the ar­rival of 200 more ModelTs on Sun­day.

Next week around 500 Model T enthusiasts from nearly ev­ery state — plus Canada and Aus­tralia — will be driv­ing around West­ern Penn­syl­va­ni­afor the 62nd an­nual Model T Ford Club In­ter­na­tional an­nual tour, hosted by the local chap­ter. At least one car from ev­ery production year, 1909-1927,will be in at­ten­dance.

The fes­tiv­i­ties be­gin Sun­day in Sax­on­burg with a bar­be­cue and car show from noon-4 p.m. at Roe­bling Park. It is open to the pub­lic. Thir­ty­onean­tique cars will be judged based on au­then­tic­ity, with one in the run­ning for the Stynoski award, the most pres­ti­gious honor. Vis­i­tors will learn­about this sto­ried auto.

“You learn about the as­sem­bly line and Henry Ford,” said Gwenn Neu­bert, Si­mon’s mother, who was brought into the hobby by her hus­band, Tim, who founded the local chap­terin 2003.

“That’s what put Amer­ica on wheels. That’s why we drive on the right side of the road. That’s why we have left-handed steer­ing be­cause of him.”

In their Model Ts, mem­bers will take a sight­see­ing tour of West­ern Penn­syl­va­nia next week. Each day, they will drive at least 100 miles from the Mar­riott ho­tel in Cran­berry to var­i­ous mu­se­ums, sites and pri­vate car col­lec­tions in But­ler, Beaver and Lawrence coun­ties, Ms. Neu­bert said. They will travel at a Model T pace— around 35 mph.

“We en­joy them as they’re meant to be en­joyed,” Mr. Neu­bert said. “Driv­ing, not just be­ing seen in a show­room.”

Mem­bers of the West­ern

Penn­syl­va­nia club meet monthly to take drives around the area and at­tend events rang­ing from car shows to ap­ple fes­ti­vals. Each ofits 16 mem­bers owns at least one car. In the Neu­bert fam­ily there­are 11, and Kevin Prus of Columbia, Ohio, has seven. Tin Lizzies bring to­gether hob­by­ists from all over the world who have a pas­sion for driv­ing and the car’s his­tory, Mr.Neu­bert said.

Ford’s car rev­o­lu­tion­ized Amer­i­can life. Mass production and a price un­der $400 in 1919 al­lowed av­er­age peo­ple to af­ford cars for the first time, Mr. Neu­bert said. Nearly 16 mil­lion Model Ts were man­u­fac­tured, and it is es­ti­mated that more than 1 mil­lion ex­ist to­day, mak­ing it rel­a­tively easy to lo­cate parts. Some mem­bers found cars on­line and oth­ers by word of mouth. Some were hid­den away for years in garages or barns. Un­re­stored Model Ts nor­mally can be pur­chased for $1,000$2,000, and a fully re­stored an­tique av­er­ages $10,000-$12,000, Mr.Neu­bert said.

“Peo­ple en­joy the rus­tic, me­chan­i­cal feel­ing you get when you drive one of th­ese cars. It gives you a sense of a real, vis­ceral ride. … You get that feel­ing of an early 1900s mo­tor­car.”

He said that the process of painstak­ingly restor­ing one —some have taken more than seven years to com­plete — gives driv­ers a greater sense of the Model T’s his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. Al­though Ford is of­ten quoted as say­ing, “You can have any color as long as it’s black,” other col­ors were of­fered to­ward the be­gin­ning and end of production, Mr. Neu­bert­said.

The tour is hosted ev­ery yearby a local Amer­i­can club. In re­cent years, par­tic­i­pants have toured Mon­tana, Min­nesota, New York and Texas. This is the first tour held in West­ern Penn­syl­va­nia.

Mr. Neu­bert hopes peo­ple of all ages will come see the Model Ts, but he is­sued a warn­ing: Take a ride and you might find your­self want­ing oneof your own.

“Every­one­learns about the Model T in third or fourth grade ... but not ev­ery­one gets tosee one, let alone 200-plus.”

Peter Di­ana/Post-Gazette

A 1924 Model T Road­ster will be among the over 200 cars here next week when mem­bers of the West­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Model T Ford Club host the 62nd na­tional tour.

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