Cars

Recreating Edsel Ford’s century-old trek

Spectators at McPherson College check out the dusty Model T touring car that was recreating Edsel Ford's Detroit to San Francisco drive 100 years ago. The car stopped at the college's auto restoration program as part of the Historic Vehicle Association's re-enactment of that journey recently.
Spectators at McPherson College check out the dusty Model T touring car that was recreating Edsel Ford's Detroit to San Francisco drive 100 years ago. The car stopped at the college's auto restoration program as part of the Historic Vehicle Association's re-enactment of that journey recently. The Wichita Eagle

McPHERSON – It is amazing to think of Edsel Ford loading up a Model T touring car with some of his buddies and heading out on a cross-country trek 100 years ago, when paved roads were a novelty. Their journey began in Detroit and ended in San Francisco.

It’s only slightly less amazing to think of someone replicating that 2,400-mile drive today, in a century-old Model T, even though the roads are better. But that’s exactly what Mark Gessler, president of the Historic Vehicle Association and Casey Maxon, a graduate of the McPherson College Restoration Program, did to mark the anniversary of the first event.

They stopped in McPherson recently on their way west, where they were joined by Chris Paulsen, an instructor in the restoration program.

“Going through the Flint Hills was just fantastic,” said Gessler. “The landscape hasn’t changed much in 100 years, since when Edsel came through here.

“The vastness of the plains is hard to wrap your arms around. I love meandering through the small towns … we have been taking a lot of dirt roads. This car just settles in as happy as a car can be when it’s on a dirt or gravel road,” he added. “Folks are really patient with us when they see the sign on the back of the car. Twenty-five to 30 miles an hour is right in our sweet spot,” Gessler said.

They were accompanied by a 2015 Mustang chase car, but he said he and Maxon actually preferred motoring along in the heat and dust in the Model T.

Their stopover in McPherson attracted a small, but fascinated group of car enthusiasts, some of whom showed up in their own vintage automobiles.

Check out their beautifully documented journey online by going to: www.http://drivehistory.org/

Reach Mike Berry at mberry@wichitaeagle.com.

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