Winter has broken, trees are budding, and Barn Find Hunter Tom Cotter is hitting the road to write a book. Would you like to help?
Besides himself, Cotter’s three-man team includes Dave Coleman (a Model T expert and Porsche race driver) and Michael Alan Ross (an award-winning photographer). They’ll be chugging across the U.S. on the Lincoln Highway, the oldest (1913) cross-country road, from Times Square in New York City to San Francisco. The group departs on Sunday, May 7, and hopes to arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge in 21 days. But they’re not driving a 2017 Cadillac XTS.
No, Cotter and his team are crossing the continent in a 1926 Ford Model T Speedster. It doesn’t have side windows or fenders. But it is upgraded with a Rajo overhead valve conversion kit, Fish carburetor, and Kevlar transmission bands. Cotter expects the book to be titled, “Ford Model T Coast to Coast, A Slow Drive Across a Fast Country.”
Rather than simply Googling suggestions for interesting sights along the way, the team wants your assistance because, as Cotter says, “they know the route better than I do.” But Cotter’s team doesn’t only want ideas, they’re also looking for interesting lodging opportunities along the route, including stays in private homes. “Enthusiasts who would allow three housebroken car guys into their home will be included in the book (to be published in 2018),” adding that, “being in a car enthusiast’s home makes for a more interesting book than staying at a chain motel, which can be replicated anywhere in the U.S.”
The Model T road trip idea began as “bucket-list goal over 20 years ago.” It started taking shape when Cotter was racing at Summit Point Motorsports Park (W.Va.) and he met a fellow racer, cross-country co-driver Coleman, who drove a Model T to the track. The pair began chatting and Cotter mentioned his dream of driving across the U.S. in a Tin Lizzie, with Coleman echoing Cotter’s thoughts. A few conversations later the two men began planning.
Asked if anything worried him, Cotter replied that, “driving an almost 100-year-old car over 3400 miles is always a concern.” Besides the reliability however, their safety was also an issue. That’s why they’ve added some visibility features to complement the performance modifications: four-way emergency flashers for when they’re on interstate highways (I-80 overlaps the Lincoln Highway at some points). And while the Speedster is capable of maintaining 45-50 mph, speed limits can reach 80 mph through Wyoming. A raised, bright orange bicycle flag has also been attached.
But in contrast to the car’s carefully considered upgrades, Cotter is improvising. To this day, he still hasn’t driven the Model T they’re running. Or any Model T. He’s going to learn to drive it on the road. His excitement comes through clearly, even over the phone.
Somehow, word has already spread about Cotter, Coleman, and Ross’s drive. And Cotter feels like, “I’m taking a million people for a ride, living so many peoples’ dreams. I can’t wait to share the story and involve folks throughout the U.S. in the book.”
If you’d like to help, please suggest points of interest or offer lodging in the comments below, or on the Facebook page dedicated to the cross-country trip (it goes live on Saturday, April 29). The team expects to pass through the following cities, from east to west: Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Pittsburgh, Pa.; Mansfield, Ohio; South Bend, Ind.; Rochelle, Ill.; Ames, Iowa; Omaha, Neb.; Cheyenne and Rock Springs, Wyo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Ely and Reno, Nev.; Sacramento and San Francisco, Calif.