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[05/06/2003] Forty-Three Model T's to Drive from California to Michigan for Ford Centennial

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Enthusiasts leave Lancaster, Calif. for Dearborn, Mich. on May 25 Route covers 3,000 miles of rural highways and secondary roads Lineup includes two Model T race cars and more than 20 pre-1915 cars "Fords last forever - and we aim to prove that," say enthusiasts

After teaching history to junior high school students in Tucson, Ariz., for 12 years, Joss Sanderson decided he would make some of his own. So on May 25, Sanderson will lead a caravan of 43 Ford Model Ts, some approaching 90 years old, on a 3,000-mile caravan from California to the Ford Motor Company Centennial celebration in Dearborn, Mich., which begins June 12. Details on the tour were announced today at press conference at Ford''s Dearborn Proving Grounds.

Sanderson, 55, a member of three Model T enthusiast clubs, and four friends hatched the idea of a cross-country Model T tour two years ago because they wanted to do something special to mark Ford Motor Company''s Centennial, which is June 16. He posted his plan on the Internet and within two days heard from 200 Ford classic car buffs from all over the United States, and even Germany and Australia. That list was finally pared to the 43 cars.

"The ''Dearborn or bust'' spirit of these travelers was born of pure passion for the car that put American on wheels and a deep respect for Henry Ford''s unique role in history," said Jim O''Connor, Ford group vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service. "Enthusiasts like these who honor our first 100 years bolster our determination to innovate in our next 100 years as well."

"Our theme is ''Fords last forever,'' and we aim to prove that," said Lee Chase, 73, a 1914 Touring Car owner from Los Angeles.

About half the vehicles on the tour will be Model Ts with brass radiators built prior to 1915. The rest will be "black cars" built in the 1920s. Many were formerly rusted relics buried in rural graveyards and acquired for as little as $15 or less.

"I got my first Model T just after World War II from a farmer who told me, ''Just cut the weeds and bushes it''s buried under and you can have it,''" recalled Chase.

Three Thousand Miles at a Top Speed of 35 mph After a festive sendoff at Lancaster City Park, the group will wind through nine Western and Midwestern states, stopping for pancake breakfasts, charity events and media interviews, often at Ford dealerships. The caravan also will stop at several nursing homes, where residents will be invited to ride for a couple of miles in the back seat of classic Model Ts.

The tour route of historic back roads was designed both to accommodate the speed limitations of the cars and to protect them from the hazards of modern freeway driving. Top speed will range between 14 mph when the group tackles the Rocky-Mountain climb and altitude between Steamboat Springs, Colo., and Fort Collins, Colo., to 35 mph on flat roads.

Ford Motor Company is providing a F-250 Super Duty truck and F-650 Super Duty truck as support vehicles.

On June 10, in Manitowoc, Wis., the group will board the S.S. Badger for a ride across Lake Michigan to Ludington, Mich. On June 12, in Grand Blanc, Mich., a police escort and a Model T-100 - one of six hand-built Model T replicas produced by Ford Motor Company for its Centennial, will join them. On June 12 at 2:00 p.m. in Dearborn, other classic Model T Fords and local dignitaries, including Edsel Ford will join the caravan for a parade down Michigan Ave. to Ford''s world headquarters.

While organizers had to limit the number of vehicles to make the full trip, they plan to pick up some temporary caravan members along the route. "If you''ve got a Ford, you''re welcome to drive along for a day or two," said Sanderson.

Sanderson said he''s booked 24 hotel stops and fielded dozens of hospitality offers from along the route, including almost every Ford dealership in their path. For example, Spradley Barr Ford in Fort Collins, Colo. is hosting a classic-car rendezvous for the troupe and local Ford clubs; and Gorno Ford in Woodhaven, Mich., will help store and load the cars for their return trip home. Other dealers along the way are hosting meals and providing oil changes and car washes.

"It''s been an awesome task and a huge responsibility," said Sanderson. "We have an obligation to so many people: to Ford, because of the historical significance of the centennial event; to the media, so we can share this good news with the people of this country and the world; and to the new friends we plan to make along the way."

For more information on the tour, go to


May 25: Lancaster, Calif. to Lone Pine, Calif. (167 miles) - After send-off in Lancaster with more than 50 classic Fords, the caravan drives across the Mojave Desert.

May 26: Lone Pine to Tonapah, Nev. (188 miles) - Caravan climbs three 7,000+ mountain passes. Stop for a "cowboy lunch" in the (mostly) ghost town of Goldfield, Nev. (population: 200). Fuel trucks to the caravan since there are no gas stations for 140 miles.

May 27: Tonapah to Ely, Nev. (169 miles) - Caravan gases up halfway at the only store of any kind on the leg.

May 28: Ely to Delta, Utah (154 miles) - Three mountain passes just west of Ely. Last 60 miles is a Salt Flat.

May 29: Delta to Price, Utah (157 miles) - Meet for media/photo opportunity in Nephi, Utah around 9 a.m. (60 miles from Salt Lake City). Caravan then goes through 10,400-foot mountain pass with a 20 percent chance of snow.

May 30: Price to Vernal, Utah (116 miles) - The real roller coaster leg of the trip - big climbs and equally big drops. Elevations range from 5,500 feet to 9,500 feet and back.

May 31: Vernal to Steamboat Springs, Colo. (167 miles) - An easy day. Hilly terrain, but no significant grades. The town of Maybell, Colo., (population: 60) does l


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