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 TIN LIZZIE

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 Lizzie".

 TIN LIZZIE PICTURES

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Last Updated 08/09/2008 Copyright © 2007 Virdell Drilling Inc. All rights reserved.