Model T celebrates 113th birthday at Detroit's Ford Piquette plant

Erica Hobbs
Special to The Detroit News

Happy 113th birthday to the Model T, Ford Motor Company’s groundbreaking vehicle that made cars accessible to middle-class Americans in the early 1900s. This weekend, Detroit’s Ford Piquette Avenue Plant — where the iconic car was first built — will mark the occasion with a free celebration that includes Model T rides, a vintage car show, factory tours and more. 

David Flatt, the museum’s executive director, said the Model T rides are one of the event’s biggest draws, with six to eight of the cars available to take visitors for a drive around the neighborhood. 

Detroit’s Ford Piquette Avenue Plant will mark the 113th birthday of the Model T with a free celebration that includes Model T rides, a vintage car show, factory tours and more.

“For many people, it’s their only chance to ride in a Model T,” he said.

The car show will also feature about 20 vintage automobiles on display, all built before 1947, the year Henry Ford died. However, Flatt said most will be from the early 1900s.

“They’ll all be very rare type cars,” he said.

Visitors are welcome to drive and showcase their own vintage cars (built before 1947), but pre-registering online is recommended. 

The event will also feature several children’s activities. Local author Kari Jo Wagner will read from her book, “ABCDetroit,” which takes children on an alphabetic exploration of Detroit, including “F” for Ford. The readings will take place at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. inside the museum’s theater, alternating with a documentary that tells the early history of the Piquette Plant, Ford Motor Company and the surrounding neighborhood. Children will also be able to enjoy Model T/Ford-themed coloring books, word searches, puzzles and more inside the museum. 

Around 20 different vendors will be selling antiques and automotive-related gifts, soap, and arts and crafts on the museum’s third floor, and the Henry Ford Heritage Association will offer Henry Ford quizzes with the opportunity to win prizes.

In addition to Model T rides, car show and activities, visitors also will have free access to the museum and opportunities to take mini-tours of the factory. Flatt said the Piquette Plant has the only complete Ford letter car collection in the world all in one room, including a Model B serial number one and Model T serial number 220. While Model Ts are famous for “only” being available in black, the earliest and later models came in different colors, and the museum has Model Ts in red, blue, gray and green on display as well, Flatt said. 

For those who are not interested in cars, Flatt said the event is also for those who love history and architecture. He said the 1904 building is considered to be one of the world’s oldest factories and lucky to be preserved. 

“The architecture inside the building is beautiful,” he said. “If you’ve never been inside a mill-style factory building in the industrial revolution era, this is your chance to do that.”

Those attending the event are required to wear masks for Model T rides and inside the museum. The plant will have masks available. Flatt said the museum will also have sanitation stations throughout the building, and booths and activities will be spread out for social distancing.

Model T Birthday Celebration and Piquette Car Show

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, 461 Piquette Ave., Detroit

Free, but guests are encouraged to register here.