One of the genuinely great things about working in the world of classic, specialist or simply unusual motor cars is talking to the people that share Lockton's passion.
Whether these are owners, club officials, or businesses – like Lockton – that look after the cars, hearing their stories can be just as interesting as the cars themselves.
The United Kingdom is seen by many around the world as centre of engineering excellence, and with good reason. The UK is home to companies that specialise in almost every car you can think of – and some you probably didn't know existed.
Ford's Model T is certainly not one of those vehicles. Universally credited as being the car that revolutionised the way cars are still made, the 'Tin Lizzie' remains an iconic motor vehicle. You can read more about the car here: https://www.locktonperformance.com/news/any-colour-so-long-as-its-black.html
We asked Neil Tuckett, a Buckinghamshire-based Model T specialist, 'Tuckett Brothers', for his view on the car. Neil is recognised globally as an expert on the Model T, and we are grateful to him for taking the time to give a very entertaining interview.
Neil, you are regarded as being one of the foremost Model T experts. Can you tell us what it is about the Model T that first appealed to you?
Many years ago, my great uncle called to say that he wanted to do the London to Brighton run using a Model T van that he had in his shed, and he taught me how to drive it. He bought it new in 1924 and we still have it today.
You've restored, bought and sold many cars over the years. Do you have a favourite or is that like being asked to choose a favourite child?
No one car can ever be a favourite, but I have a few that I really enjoy. One is 'Rusty', a completely original and untouched 1927 Model T English Tourer. The van mentioned previously of course has its place, and I also enjoy using the two 1911 Tourers I have. One I restored in 2008, and the other I bought from its second owner in completely original condition but mechanically restored.
How many Model T's do you think you've sold and restored over the years and do any cars in particular stand out?
We've sold over 1,000 cars, 50 a year on average. That includes anything from rusty piles of parts through to fully restored cars. Some that stand out include a recently restored 1912 English Tourer bought as part of a collection ten years ago, 80% complete but in pieces. Another was a 1915 English Town Car, nut and bolt restored and bought several years ago in Reading. Although it was originally owned by an Orkney resident. It arrived on the back of a lorry and once finished, was sold back to the same town in Orkney (Rousay).
The last is a car we bought in Colorado and shipped to Kansas where I was staying at the time. I had no hire car, so the plan was to drive it to be put in a container that would be shipped home. It was best described as a 'hillbilly' car – complete with fishing poles. I drove it into the town square and when I returned, there was a huge crowd around it. I asked what the fuss was about, and some said, “that's Bradley's car”. It turned out to have originally come from that very town, before being shipped 800 miles away to Colorado!
It's no secret that values of many classic, vintage and veteran cars have increased in recent years – in some cases, significantly. Why do you think this is and, without asking you to predict the future, do you think that this will continue?
I think that car values generally go up when investors get involved. The Model T tends to have a lower base value due to its survival rate, but this does mean that you don't tend to lose much when values then drop again.
What's the best event you've taken part in using a Model T?
There are several. First, there's the April fool's event, which we run on behalf of the Model T Club, which often attracts 60 or 70 cars. There's also the Goodwood Concours D'Elegance and then the Ford Challenge, which we ran in 2003 to celebrate Ford's centenary. Ford donated a £10,000 prize and the challenge was for entrants to restore a Model T. We had 34 entries across 18 months, and the winner received £5,000 with the balance split across the remaining entries.
In 2006, we did a trip to the Pecos Mountains in Northern Spain for a week. The ferry was damaged in a storm, so we drove 800 miles back through France. Driving through the Outer Hebrides over two weeks was stunning too. Lastly, we got a Model T to the top of Ben Nevis in 2011 to celebrate the centenary of one reaching the summit. We drove and carried it, but it was worth the struggle and the ten years' worth of paperwork to do so (the health and safety team who had to accompany us every step of the way also realised after less than half a mile that we were serious too!).
Is there a particular Model T that you haven't already owned or worked on that sits on your bucket list?
No. I've owned a fair selection, and the ones I like are still in the shed today!
Are there any other motor cars outside the Model T which are particular favourites, whether of the same era or more recent perhaps?
Land Rovers and Range Rovers. We have a Series III Land Rover that we still use regularly.
What tips would you give anyone considering the purchase of a Model T (apart from visiting you, of course!)
Buy the buyer's guide (which I co-wrote!) (https://www.modeltford.co.uk/product-page/ford-model-t-an-enthusiast-s-guide) and get someone to show you how to drive one – when you can stop one, you can drive one! I'd also add 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' and 'if you bend it, you mend it'.
Finally, once lockdown finally eases, can you tell us where your perfect road trip would take you in a Model T and who'd be your passenger(s)?
Scotland, including the Outer Hebrides with my family.
We'd like to sincerely thank Neil for a genuinely entertaining interview. If you'd like to know more about what he does, head to www.modeltford.co.uk. Neil is also the author of several books on the Model T, and we may just be adding one or two to our own automotive library.