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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Rare 1926 Ford Model T Snowmobile has the White stuff | Hagerty Media

Have snow, will travel. That wasn't always the case when it came to automobiles, but it was the basic idea behind the "original snowmobile," a clever Ford Model T conversion kit that was created by Virgil White more than 100 years ago.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/rare-1926-ford-model-t-snowmobile-has-the-white-stu...
28 REPLIES 28
ScottC
Intermediate Driver

My mom's Uncle Art had one of those. My mom and her family were originally from the Northern part of Minnesota and they pretty much all relocated to North West Indiana and Uncle Art lived in East Chicago Indiana and he had one in the garage and would drive it in the winter. My dad helped him restore it over the course of a year, my dad was a cabinet maker and a pattern template make for General American Tank Car and made a new wooden frame for it to replace the old one that had started to rot. This was back in the late 60's. I remember going for rides in it. Wow, old memories.
bhankinsonn
Intermediate Driver

I love these articles, who would know these vehicles even existed without the writers diligent research. Thank you!!
Stiv
New Driver

Neat, never knew anything like that existed.
abgbpb
New Driver

Thanks for the great article and video; love the video! The Volvo Auto (and seemingly everything else) Museum in Illinois has a great selection of antique snow machines. This would fit right in!
ModelT
Advanced Driver

It's the VOLO museum in Volo, Ill. A fun place to visit. But my 1926 T touring was never taken out in the rain or snow.
Ragster
Intermediate Driver

I found one UP near Walkerton two years ago. The family still owned it and it had the conversion parts to change it to a snow-mobile -machine. They have had many years of family enjoyment. What I found very interesting was a step plate into the old Ford that was cast "SNOWMOBILE " ..? Anyway...I'm sure the family is still enjoying the Model T "Snowmobile " to this day.
TonyT
Instructor

And now we know where the inspiration for the Hannibal 8 came from!
MoparMarq
Detailer

"Push the button, Max!"
964c4
Intermediate Driver

Super cool! I would love to drive that through a foot of fresh snow.
ModelT
Advanced Driver

I've driven many Model A Fords through more than a foot of snow. Amazingly snow and sand only slowed them down.
Dennis38Jag
New Driver

The Cole Transportation Museum in Bangor, Maine has an impressive collection of snow vehicles in the early 1920's. They were a trucking company in that era and had a contract with the state of Maine to keep the roads in the northern part of the state open during the winter months. It's a great museum with all kinds of early 1900's vehicles (cars, commercial trucks, snow plows and machines - even a train!) used in Maine. Stopped there a couple of years ago to check it out and turned into a several hour visit! Quite impressive! I'll go to it again next time I visit Maine!
dclaxon
Pit Crew

When we were kids back in the late '50s My uncle had a Model T. It didn't have the snowmobile conversion, but it went pretty well in the snow. We would take some rope and tie our sleds to the back bumper and he would tow us around the country roads. I'm sure the Fun Police would have something to say about trying that today.
rjf54ford
New Driver

My day said in the old days ice fishermen would buy old Model T's for $10-$15. Drive them out on frozen lake Erie outside of Buffalo NY, remove the wooden floor boards and fish sitting in the car. They would leave the cars on the ice, and in the spring they would sink to the bottom of lake Erie.
PJH
New Driver

There is another tracked Ford at Harold Warp Pioneer Village Museum in Minden Nebraska. In 1923, Scania-Vabus manufactured a dozen or so Y-16 half-tracked postal buses for the Swedish Post Office. The vehicle could carry 10 passengers. Heat was provided by using an innovative fresh air/engine exhaust heater box design.
https://www.scania.com/uk/en/home/experience-scania/about-us/heritage/winter-bus.html
deckerbilt
Intermediate Driver

Papa-tony
Intermediate Driver

Hannibal 8 all right... it just needs a spinning spear and nose-cone to burrow through high drifts!

One thing not mentioned in the article was the amount of time and tools it took to convert the car. Thinking a bit more and being from SoCal... I imagine since the winters are long in the upper Northeast, once converted they stayed that way. Maybe just drop the skis and remove the tracks during the summer months.

It appears the entire differential is different and relocated as well.
TrustyRusty
Intermediate Driver

Our local (California) county fair has an antique farm display and a local gentleman brings a 1927 Model T Roadster Pickup with the "tractor" conversion. The front fenders are left on and there are no front "skis", just the rear tractor cleats. It is very cool!
Solosolo
Intermediate Driver

Back in 1989 while on my way to Hershey Swap Meet I stayed over at my friends house in Garwood City, New Jersey, and over the weekend he took me to visit the Ralph Space Museum in either Andover or Wendover or similar, in Pennsylvania. Apart from thousands of rifles, bullets etc. from the Civil War, he had a collection of cars including a very rare Premier that had a sign on the running board that said it was one of only two known to exist but the current whereabouts of the second car where unknown. Two months later, back in South Africa, I was showing my friend my American photos and when he saw the Premier he called out to his wife "Hey Pam, here's a Premier just like ours." What are the chances of that happening nearly 10,000 miles apart? Back to the Ralph Space Museum, where just about opposite where the Premier was parked there was a Ford "T" just like this one. Fascinating car, and museum, which I believe doesn't exist anymore as I tried to let them know where the other Premier was to be found but couldn't find a contact.
MoparMarq
Detailer

Looks like this might the inspiration for the snowmobile that was driven by the mailman/storyteller Bing Crosby at the beginning and end of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" stop-action animation show from around 1965-ish. "Bumbles bounce!"
jagmuff
Pit Crew

I immediately thought the same thing & you're almost right.  That vintage Christmas special was actually "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and the mailman/storyteller was Fred Astaire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jQy_ppY2bI

Best viewed at 720p. Clip from the ending of the film "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" with the Fred Astaire mailman giving us words of wisdom, followed by th...
MoparMarq
Detailer

Thanks for the correction. My kids are teens now, so it's been a while since I've seen the show.
Ricemouse
New Driver

Very cool! I wish the video was in deeper snow so we could see the skis in action. They were barely touching the snow.
Tennisbrian
New Driver

At a BC car show in 2012, I saw a Super Snow Bird conversion kit on a 1929 Model A Ford 2 Door Sedan with 3 rear wheels on tracks and skis on the front. It was similar to this Snowmobile kit. The car looked in very good condition - likely recently restored.
brians356
Detailer

One fly in the ointment is that a Model T has a gravity fuel feed, and must be backed up steep hills. But, that's a problem with or without snow, so ... why not? 😉
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ModelT
Advanced Driver

This appears to be am early 1926 T.
In 1926 Ford moved the gas tank from under the front seat to the cowl, like the later Model A. Steeper hills could then be driven foward. Imagine sitting on the gas tank or having it in your lap. I also owned a VW with the gas tank over my knees and several Model A's.
I heard of very few old cars catching fire because of where the fuel tank was. After the Model A, the tank sat in the open at the rear. Yet the Corvair was dangerous at any speed?
67KaiserJ
New Driver

Jeep CJ models had the fuel tank under the drivers seat until moved to the rear for the 1971 model year.
bkmcgraw62
Pit Crew

I absolutely love it! Professor Fate would be proud!
Bloody-AL
Pit Crew

Thank you Haggerty. Just awesome!!