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Antique Rides

Man adds Model Ts to collection

October 8, 2013 Car Care

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Bob Brandon, left, and his cousin Roy Brandon stand Friday with their Model Ts at Bob Brandon's home in Butler. He has been collecting cars for 40 years, but Bob Brandon just recently got into Model Ts.

Maintaining an antique car requires a great deal of care and attention.

But for some enthusiasts, one is not enough.

Bob Brandon has eight cars in his collection, including four American Bantams made in his hometown of Butler.

But his newest fascination lies with some of Henry Ford's early masterpieces.

“I just recently got into Model Ts,” Brandon said.

He has a 1922 Model T touring car in working order and a 1919 Model T Coupe that is still having repairs done to it.

Brandon, who retired from radio in 1997, said the Model T is a little more suited for the road than Bantams.

“Model Ts are a little more roadworthy,” Brandon said. “They're a little more powerful.”

While they might be roadworthy, Model Ts are anything but easy to drive.

“The Model T is like no other car,” Brandon said.

There's no gas pedal; instead, the throttle is controlled by a lever to the right of the steering wheel.

But there are three pedals on the floor. The far left pedal changes gears from low to neutral to high. The middle pedal puts the car in reverse, while the right is the brake.

It's a confusing setup that takes time to get used to.

“It's a lot worse than learning to drive a stick shift,” Brandon joked.

While Model Ts are a new love for Brandon, cars have been a lifelong hobby of his.

“I've been collecting for 40 years now,” he said. “I've always had an interest in them.”

That interest started when Brandon was a child.

“When I was a little boy I always had go karts,” he said. “I guess I've always liked anything with wheels on it.”

Keeping the wheels spinning on his Model Ts is easier said than done.

There is a lot of work to be done in maintaining classic cars, particularly those approaching the century mark.

Perhaps the most frequent ailment of Model Ts are the tires.

Brandon said American-made Model T tires are hard to find because of liability issues.

“All Model T tires are made in Vietnam,” Brandon said. “They're not very good. They wear out real quick.”

While tires can be tricky to maintain, brakes are fairly easy.

“The Bantams and the Model Ts have mechanical brakes,” Brandon said. “They are easier to maintain than later cars, which have hydraulic brakes.”

Brandon said the small engines in the cars are also easy to repair.

“They have a simple engine,” he said. “If you have trouble, it's easy to pull it out and work on it.”

Brandon said despite their age, the Model Ts are probably easier to maintain than classic cars from the 1950s and 1960s.

“Those cars had a lot of chrome,” he said. “And finding chrome is very difficult.”

Working on the cars, whether antiques, classics or modern, is something Brandon said is a great hobby during his retirement.

“It keeps your mind sharp,” he said.

Brandon said he does all the work to his cars, including painting and upholstery upkeep.

The amount of work creates a close connection to the vehicles.

Brandon said he loves all his cars, but his personal favorite would probably have to be his 1940 Bantam Woody Jeep.

“It's a neat car,” he said. “And it was made in May 1940, which was the month and year my parents were married.”

The Woody Jeep might have a little more sentimental value than the other cars in his collection, but Brandon doesn't neglect to drive each of them often.

“The worst thing you can do is let a car sit,” he said. “I drive mine at least once a week.”

The numerous car shows hosted throughout the county are among the most popular destinations for Brandon and his cars.

He said he visits a show at least every other week, making sure he gets each car out to show.

“They never know what I'm going to show up in,” he joked.

Brandon said the shows are one of the best ways for him to learn more about his passion.

“They're nice community get-togethers with a lot of common interests,” he said

Brandon said the opportunity to share stories and tips at the shows is special.

“There's always someone bringing a car out for the first time,” he said.

Another opportunity for Brandon to share tips is through local car clubs.

And Brandon is a member of many.

“My wife says I belong to too many clubs because of how much stuff we get in the mail,” he joked.

Brandon said the information that can be gained through the clubs is invaluable for a collector, especially someone new to the hobby.

“If you're new to antique car hobby, there's a lot of help out there,” he said.

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