The Museum of Texas Tech has had a 1927 Model-T Ford Fordor in its possession since the early 1970s, and it has begun a project to restore the car into running condition.
Recently, Rep. John Frullo, a Republican from Lubbock, made a $1,000 donation to the museum to help in the refurbishment process, he said. The Model-T, which is painted and designed with signage of the day, including football scores between Tech and Texas Christian University, key headlines from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and The Toreador, was a vehicle used by Lubbock’s KFYO radio station.
“I think it just shows how good we as a community (and) Texas Tech rely on the media,” Frullo said. “Not only KFYO but the other stations that, of course, (have) developed into TV stations, like now, and other mediums that people use to get their information.”
KFYO, which is a Lubbock radio station on 790 AM, has a long history with the Lubbock community, and the car was originally bought to commemorate the 25th anniversary for the station, Henry B. Crawford, curator of history, said. The car has headlines showing the important events that were going on that year in Lubbock and gives more insight into the nearly 90-year history of the station.
With graduate students volunteering to help in the refurbishment process, Crawford gathered a small team together to help with the car, he said. It is the students who work with the museum that are given the opportunity to work with pieces such as the Model-T.
“It’s an important outlet to let students work on major projects. Our students get to work with the collection, directly with the collection,” Crawford said. “Historically it’s very important because it’s a real piece of Lubbock history.”
Andy Harris, a history doctoral student, is one of the students working on the car and has invested countless hours in trying to find parts and put things together to make the car work, he said. The four-cylinder, 177 cubic-inch engine of the Adore has around 83 foot-pounds of torque and nearly 22 horsepower, he said, and was considered a top-of-the line car in its day.
The car was also said to have a top speed of 45 mph, but with its unforgiving suspension, it was a risk going that speed, Harris said, and the cruising speed for the car was around 25 to 30 mph.
Tying into his research, Harris said he had the opportunity to research the Model-T to add to his portfolio for his interdisciplinary degree.
“Based on that, I’m helping the museum as a volunteer now to get this thing actually operating and running,” he said. “I’ve always had interest in cars, it’s been a passion of mine, and to get to do this is a dream come true.”
Parts for the car are often easy to get but are pricey, he said, and donations like the ones given from Frullo allow the museum to fund the project.
“The importance and significance of getting this Model-T running is to have an operational, running, historical item for the museum,” Harris said. “To have people come in and to experience what it would’ve been like in 1927 and drive, or really, ride in a Model-T.”
All around the country museums have historic cars, but it is not often they are in running condition, he said. It is important for museums to always try and preserve the cultural history that comes with vehicles like these, Harris said.
For Frullo, it is exciting to see the different items that are written on the car, he said, and preserving the vehicle adds to the significance of the museum. The car also gives a deeper look into the growth of the Lubbock community throughout history.
“(There were) 17,500 people living in Lubbock at the time, that’s about half of what Texas Tech has here,” Frullo said. “It’s just kind of neat to reminisce and look at the advances that we made, sometimes we don’t really stop and smell the roses, and this is a chance to do that.”