Having a Ford Model T ascend a mountain might sound like a crazy idea, but in 1911 it was a marketing coup. Ford had just arrived in Britain and to prove its worth, a corporate sales agent named Henry Alexander drove a Model T to the top of Ben Nevis in Scotland – Britain's highest mountain. The 4,406-foot ascent took five days, and he Alexander was greeted at the peak by the motor press pool of the day. Then he drove back down in just three hours.
A hundred years later, Ford of Britain is celebrating its centenary and will commemorate the Ben Nevis ascent with a convoy of over 60 Model Ts driving back to the mountain. Among them the very last unit to roll off the revolutionary assembly line. Unfortunately, environmental conservation prohibits driving up the mountain these days, but a group of volunteers will disassemble a replica Model T, carry it up the mountain and put it back together at its peak in celebration of the original feat. Now that's dedication. Follow the jump for the full press release.
LAST FORD MODEL T JOINS BEN NEVIS ASCENT CELEBRATION
BRENTWOOD, Essex, 6th May, 2011 – The last Model T built by Ford Motor Company and a star of the company's UK-based heritage collection, is heading to Scotland to help celebrate the Ford of Britain Centennial.
Britain's highest mountain will play host to the Ben Nevis Challenge Tour from 16 – 21 May. Organised by the Model T Register the event celebrates the 100th anniversary of a Ford Model T scaling the 4,406ft peak.
In 1911 Henry Alexander, a Ford agent based in Edinburgh, drove to the top of Ben Nevis to prove the ruggedness of the Ford Model T. The ascent took five days with the route leading over boulders, through snow-drifts and over perilous loose sand paths. At the top of Ben Nevis the Model T was met by the world's press before taking less than three hours to descend the mountain, traversing gradients steeper than 1 in 3.
The event proved an excellent trial of Ford's chassis and suspension designs, a task completed today by Ford engineers at Dunton Technical Centre - one of Europe's largest automotive R&D centres - and Lommel Proving Ground, Belgium. This means that vehicles such as the new Ford Focus are designed to cope with the most demanding road surfaces.
The 2011 Ben Nevis Challenge Tour will see over 60 Model T cars gather by Britain's highest peak. Daily runs will give the public the opportunity to see these privately-owned examples of Ford's first "Universal Car" take to the picturesque roads around Fort William. A display of Ford vehicles and memorabilia will be on display at the Nevis Centre, Fort William.
Other vehicles from the Ford Heritage Collection will include a replica of Henry Ford's first vehicle, the Quadricycle, and a 1910 Model T.
The event will culminate with a Ford Model T again sitting atop Ben Nevis although these days it is impossible to take motor vehicles all the way to the summit. Coordinated by the John Muir Trust, the conservation charity responsible for the peak, a replica of the 1911 Model T will be dismantled at Achintree, carried to the summit by volunteers and reassembled.
Iain Blyth, organiser of the event, said: "We are working with many groups to make this celebration a success and it is fitting that the anniversary of the Ford Model T conquering Britain's highest peak is shared with the anniversary of Britain's favourite car company."
John Nevill, Ford heritage administrator, said: "Ford is proud to support this amazing event. The Model T was groundbreaking in its day and that so many are still running today is testament to design and strength of the Ford Model T as well as the enthusiasm of the owners. One hundred years ago Ford put the world on wheels by building a global car and now in 2011 the new Ford Focus, which will be available in 120 countries, continues the tradition."