I feel like this is a picture I’ve encountered before in various places, most recently on the r/WeirdWheels subreddit. It’s an oddly lifted Model T, and the caption suggested it was some sort of dealer-installed “high water kit.” But not everything really checks out, and it’s so delightfully strange, I figured perhaps we’d all enjoy discussing whatever the hell this is. So let’s do just that.
The post in the forum states this about the picture:
Now, the problem here is that this does not look like Florida, what with the winter-denuded trees, something several other commenters noted. Also, nobody seems to have found records of Trilacoochee Ford in the area.
The “kit” itself is quite strange; the wheels are the same size as stock, but the body is raised, via some sort of planks, front and rear, in an X formation, at least two feet higher than normal. It looks like the leaf spring suspension forms the mounting points for the risers, and the driveshaft is just allowed to angle down to the differential.
Looking at the chassis, I think you can see how it would have been done, with the points where the leaf spring mounts to the solid axles — the spring shackles — used for the riser beams, though I’m not clear where the steering column meets everything.
I reached out to Ford’s archives to see what they could find, to see if this was ever any sort of kit offered by the factory or dealers, and here’s what they said:
Unfortunately, we struck out on this one. Here is the reply I received from the Benson Ford Research Center:
I wasn’t able to find any information on this one. I didn’t see any reference to this type of conversion kit in any of the FMC materials I looked at, however judging from the Ford Owner and Dealer magazine it looks like there were many crazy conversions going on in the Model T days, but I didn’t see any in the magazine for a highwater type kit (we only have the magazine from 1925 though).
As for Trilacoochee Ford, I looked through the dealer ledgers we have from 1908-1918 and 1924 but didn’t see any dealerships listed in Green Swamp, FL. A search through our dealer photos etc. didn’t return any hits either.
Well, it was a good try, at least.
Personally, I think what we’re looking at here is a one-off, home-built modification, done fairly quickly to deal with the flooded situation the owner found themselves in.
I don’t think you can really consider this a Monster Truck ancestor (I’d save that for something like this) since the tire size and ground clearance remain stock. The point of this is to just raise the body (and, I guess, engine) out of the water, kind of like a car on stilts.
If anyone has any thoughts or information, I’d love to hear it. If not, I guess you’re still welcome to sit and contemplate the sheer madness of the modification and wonder just what the hell this thing would have felt like to drive.
I’m guessing strange.