Q&A with Kit Foster: January 16, 2014

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Q. Years ago I read an article in a car magazine. It might have been Car Craft, as it was in the small format that they refer to as the “little pages.” It was a special issue on Model T’s. In this article is stated that there were no black Model T Fords as they were all painted “Midnight Blue.” That is the only place I have ever seen or heard this before or since. Is this possibly true?

— Jerry Douglas, Sapulpa, Okla.

A. I remember reading that, too, although I forget where. It’s pretty well-known that the “any color as long as it’s black” policy arose after the institution of Ford’s moving assembly line in 1913. The progression from many colors to a single hue was not a sudden, across-the-board change. Probably the most accurate account can be found in the late Bruce McCalley’s book “Model T Ford: The Car That Changed the World” (Krause Publications 1994). He states “The standard color for the initial (and perhaps all) 1913 cars was a very dark almost-black blue, with black fenders and splash aprons, following the same color scheme as the 1912s. No written evidence has been found of all-black Model T’s prior to 1914, although surviving examples would seem to indicate that there were such cars.” He then goes on to list 14 different blue and black paints used in the manufacture and repair of Model T’s as of December 1913. In a later section McCalley shows 19 paints, mostly blues and blacks, used into the 1914 model year, and then a real puzzler, a March 22, 1917 letter that states “As we expect to paint all bodies black by April 15th, we ask that you kindly give us an inventory of all the F-113 (blue body paint) you now have on hand, and that you do not requisition any more of this material beyond your needs to April 15th.” This, McCalley believed, indicated that dark blue bodies were built as late as 1917.

The short answer to your question, however, seems to be that a very dark blue (I don’t see the name “Midnight Blue”) was used on bodies over a four-year period before real black (which Ford called “black japan”) became the sole standard color.


Q. This picture was sent to me several years ago by a friend. Can you identify these emblems?

— Patrick Bisson, Flushing, Mich.


A. Their symmetrical patterns suggest they are side emblems, and the style is reminiscent of the Art Deco era of the 1930s and early ’40s. The “V” implies a vee-type engine, but not many cars had them back then. Hood side trim of a similar type, without the V, was used by Cadillac and LaSalle, but I don’t see this type anywhere. They are 5-3/4 inches long and 2-1/2 inches high and apparently have a part number, PT-4596851, on the back. I see some 1948 Cadillac body parts with seven-digit numbers beginning with “455,” but I don’t have any later listings. Does anyone recognize them?


Q. I have an engine block, six-cylinder flathead with rollers on the cam. Can you help find out what it is? The bore is about 3-1/2 inches and it has an aluminum intake manifold. There is a steel exhaust pipe and the exhaust manifold exit is about three inches in diameter. There is a brass carburetor, Detroit Lubricator Model 25. The fact that it’s brass suggests the teens, and the roller tappets suggest a performance high-end car. Somebody should be able to use it.

— Anthony Bult, Whitewater, Wis.

A. Your first two sentences sounded very familiar, but the carburetor cinched it for me. You’ve got the block, manifolds and carburetor from an early Hudson Super Six. Introduced in 1916, the Super Six was the first engine actually built by Hudson (earlier engines were by Continental, but to Hudson specs). The brainchild of Charles Vincent, brother of Jesse Vincent who was responsible for the Packard Twin Six, the Super Six had a counterbalanced crankshaft, large valves and, as you note, roller tappets. Bore and stroke of 3-1/2 by 5 inches gave 288 cubic inches of displacement. It was built in much the same form until 1926, then modified with overhead intake valves for 1927 to the end in 1929. Hudson continued to use roller tappets until 1933.

It is very familiar to me because I’ve owned a 1925 Hudson Super Six Brougham since 1976. That Detroit Lubricator carb is identical to mine. Yours is probably from a 1924 to 1926 car. I’m sure a Hudson owner somewhere will be able to make use of it.

To submit questions to this column: E-mail angelo.vanbogart@fwmedia.com or mail to: Q&A, c/o Angelo Van Bogart, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001.

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