Hello, let me tell you about myself. I am 84 years old and quite an antique.
I am very proud of that, since there were many times I did not think I would
make it. Would you like to hear my story? I am a 1923 Model T Ford Touring
Car, serial # 7992691. Henry Ford assembled me in Detroit, Michigan in July
1923. You know, he was the "Father of the Automobile" and was famous for
providing a car for every family and perfecting the assembly line. My
nickname was "The Tin Lizzie", a name Mr. Ford did not like. I think it is
somewhat cute, don't you? My engine has four cylinders and I am cooled by
water. They say I have as much strength as 20 horses. I was so excited the
day I was completed that I quivered right down to my shackles. The thrill I
felt when my finished body rolled out of that assembly line is still as fresh
as if it were yesterday.
I was one of 195,299 cars built by Ford Motor Company in July 1923. From
October 1, 1903, to May 31, 1927, Ford built 15,007,033 Model T cars. My
factory price was $395 but I am worth a lot more than that now. Several
hundred Model T’s and I were taken from the parking area and placed in railway
cars for delivery all over the country. I traveled from Detroit to a
dealership in Williamson County, Texas. Boy that sure was a long train ride!
I have not seen my parking lot friends since, and often wonder how they have
fared over the years.
In 1923, I was bought by Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Renick, farmers who lived
between Bertram and Liberty Hill. Actually, Mrs. Renick was the one who
bought me. She paid for me out of her butter and egg money, products that I
later had the opportunity to carry to town for her to sell. I was so afraid
my new owners would be displeased with me or that I might not perform up to
their expectations. I soon realized they were as afraid of me as I was of
them! I did not start right away because my new owner did not quite know how
to use my adjustments. When they finally figured out how to adjust and choke
my carburetor and retard my spark, I fired up on all four and purred like a
kitten. Driving a highly sophisticated machine like me was a lot different
from saying, "Giddy up and Whoa" to some old horse.
In 1956, 33 years after I was built, the Renick family brought me to
Llano. I was not used much in those days. Mostly I stayed in a car shed at
1110 Ford Street at the Renick home. The Renicks were really nice folks.
They were my owners from 1923 to 1961. That is 38 years.
Then in 1961, Rod and Terry Decker discovered me in the shed sitting on
blocks. I was still in perfect running condition. Those two boys told their
dad, Rube, about me. Mr. Decker offered to trade me for one of those
new-fangled appliances they call a refrigerator. I'd been around awhile by
then, so the Deckers let me rest most of the time in their car shed, what you
folks call a garage. About 1963 the Deckers entered me in the Llano parade.
I won first place with a 1920's theme! When Rod was in high school in 1965,
he drove me around town a few times. It sure felt good to have a young person
at my wheel.
After that, I was stored in another garage. I was not on blocks and my top
was down, so I began to deteriorate. In 1984, Mr. Decker noticed I needed a
face-lift. Wasn't that nice of him? He made a deal with Dan Affolter, of
Pioneer Motor and Machine, to completely restore me. Mr. Affolter is an
expert at restoring vintage cars. By that time, I as quite a vintage piece!
Do you know that he completely took me apart? I was scattered all over his
garage and scared to death that he would never get me back together again. I
felt like Humpty Dumpty. He started my restoration in 1987 and completed the
work in 1989. His wife, Eve, restored my upholstery. Mr. Affolter and I were
featured in the Llano News, July 7, 1988. We made quite a spread. In fact,
that story is on display here. In 1989, the Deckers again entered me in the
Llano parade. This time I carried members of the United Daughters of the
Confederacy, dressed in period clothes. Boy we were really decked out! After
that, I went to live with Rod in his nice enclosed garage.
Sometime in 1995, Taylor Virdell, Sr. asked the Decker family about me. He
had seen me being restored. I made such an impression on him that he decided
he wanted me for his own. His family's company,
Virdell Drilling Inc., bought
me from the Decker family in December of 1995. I had never been owned by a
corporation before - whatever that means. I soon learned that his family was
in the business of drilling water wells. At least I knew I would never run
out of water. By the way, did you know that the Virdell family began drilling
water wells in the Texas Hill Country in 1900, 23 years before I was built?
And even though I am a year older than Taylor, he took a great interest in me
and has cared for me like a baby.
Most of my parts are original, with only a few exceptions. Mr. Virdell
wanted me to look like new again, so he bought me four new 30 x 3-1.2 tires to
ride on. He had a new top made to keep my driver cool, and gave me a new
radiator and water pump to keep me cool. Don’t you like my four new shiny
chrome hubcaps? And please notice my wheels. The spokes are made out of oak
and ash, and they have been with me since 1923. I looked so good that the
Virdells entered me in several area parades. The judges were quite impressed
with my looks and I won several awards. It surely does feel good to be all
fixed up again, and I am very secure in my new home. The Virdell family takes
great pride in me, just like they do their business. I am a very happy "Tin
TIN LIZZIE PICTURES
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