Mick Walsh From The Cockpit
Classic & Sports Car|April 2018

Few people have clocked up more miles in early cars than Austin Bromley, but the Ford Model T, which celebrates its 110th birthday this year, seems to prompt such adventures. From veteran motorcycles to Camaro drag-racers, Bromley has eclectic tastes, but the Model T remains a favourite. For him, motoring with friends on North American back-roads is automotive heaven.

Even Pikes Peak has been conquered in the 2.8-litre, 20hp legend – a challenge that took 3½ hours. Other epic runs have included a 3000mile European adventure over the Pyrénées to Barcelona, along the coast to Italy via Monaco and back over the Alps. For an introduction to driving a ‘Tin Lizzie’, I couldn’t think of a better place to start than Bromley’s Surrey backyard.

The controls initially puzzle me, but only because my brain is programmed to conventional layouts. Austin patiently explains the brilliant planetary gearbox, and twice clarifies the operation of the three floor pedals – with far left a type of clutch, reverse in the middle, and right a transmission brake. An outer lever doubles as a brake, but its main purpose is really to disengage the gears, while the throttle is operated via a lever mounted on the steering column. Had I come to the Model T in 1908, with no prior driving experience, it would be easier to operate – particularly because there’s no need to double-declutch.

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