Secret Scotland

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Fort William sculpture will recall the Ford Model T climb of Ben Nevis

One of the things which has always intrigued me is an event I am reminded of whenever I open a number of the books I have collected regarding the history of motoring in Scotland – the time a Model T was driven to the top of Ben Nevis.

The stunt took place in 1911 (repeated in 1928) and was carried out by Henry Alexander Jr, the son of Scotland’s first Ford dealer, who drove the Model T up and down the mountain as a publicity stunt to show the superiority of the mass-produced American car in comparison to hand-crafted British cars.

The attempt was not simply a case of turning up at the foot of mountain one day, and heading for summit, but was carefully prepared for.

It took six weeks to prepare the route for the challenge, with workers laying a timber path along the route to the summit, and five days to complete the trip, during which the car would frequently sink axle-deep into the boggy ground and have to be pulled out by rope. It seems that some obstacles were dynamited to clear them from the path. A newspaper report from the time said that one wrong turn of the wheel could have resulted in a fall that would have destroyed the car and killed the driver.

See film of the climb: Lost film of Ford Model T on Ben Nevis found

The 5-minute film is not embeddable, but can be seen here, on the BFI site: Motoring Ben Nevis 1911

It’s intriguing to note that, contrary to modern expectations where large tyres (or even tracks) are used to reduce loading and sinking into soft ground, the Model T’s skinny wheels and tyres actually worked with the car’s high ground clearance by allowing it to sink into muddy or soft rutted ground and gain traction at the bottom of the rut, where the ground was still relatively firm, as it not been churned up.

Back in 2015, an organisation called Ben Nevis Bronze Ford Committee began raising £86,000 to pay for a full-size bronze sculpture of the 1911 Model T, to be installed in Fort William.

Funding is now in place to have the sculpture made in Edinburgh, cast at the Powderhall Bronze Foundry, and installed in Fort William’s Cameron Square next May.

Via: Ben Nevis Ford Model T sculpture to be made

The actual climb took place between May 9 and 13 of 1911 – with plenty of snow still in evidence.

Ben Nevis Model T

Ben Nevis Model T – pic via BBC News

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July 22, 2017 - Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , ,

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