Model T caravan creeps through town

Published 12:03 am Thursday, October 25, 2007

NATCHEZ — When Bob and Barbara Schaible rolled into Natchez on Tuesday they did it in style.

They came in a 1921 Model T roadster pickup, the same truck they took on their honeymoon in 1958.

The Schaible’s, from Michigan, were part of a caravan of Model T drivers that came from Nashville via the Natchez Trace.

Email newsletter signup

They joined up with the Tennessee T’s, a Model T car club that has been making the trip on the Natchez Trace for the last 10 years.

“The car held up better than we did,” Bob Schaible said.

When Schaible bought his Model T in 1954 he said it had literally been driven from the dealership to a barn where it sat until he purchased it.

Schaible said he only put gas in the tank and air in the tires before he drove it home. And since the car was in pristine condition Schaible paid $300 for the car, it was the same price brand new in 1921.

Barbara Schaible said the Natchez Trace rally is her husband’s favorite drive since it’s the only one he has wanted to drive in twice.

But this may be the last year of the decade-old tradition.

Larry and Carolyn Williams are the event’s coordinators and in their early 70s, they are ready to slow down a bit.

Larry Williams is the president of the Tennessee T’s.

“We certainly hope the next president keeps this up,” he said.

The Williams’ have been running the Trace rally since its inception.

And since the rally was invented, it has gained in popularity.

Their first rally had less than 10 cars, the 2007 rally had 55 Model Ts. The year’s rally started with 57 but one broken axel and one broken rod culled the herd.

This year’s rally also included drivers from Washington, New York and New Hampshire.

And while many car aficionados are reluctant to take their cars on the road these drivers are not.

In fact it’s almost a badge of honor to take a Model T on an extended trip.

Williams has driven his 1926 Model T all over Nova Scotia and one club member drove his Model T from Tennessee to Alaska.

Williams’ car is completely refurbished and even has the original engine.

Williams did however outfit the car with one modern amenity, a GPS unit.

On Wednesday the Model Ts were starting their 500-mile journey back to Nashville, at a top speed of about 40 mph.

But for Carolyn Williams it’s not about speed, it’s about a love for the past.

“This is the car that put America on wheels,” she said.