Around the world in a Ford Model Model T

Centenarian Ford Model T clocks up 50,000 on global journeys for charities

Miniature Ford Model T on map

Driving around the world is no mean feat. Doing it in a 100-year-old Ford Model T is a staggering challenge – but that’s exactly what Dirk and Trudy Regter from the Netherlands are attempting.

The Regters began their epic journey in the summer of 2012. The husband and wife team covered 22,000 kilometres (14,000 miles) in 180 days during the first leg of the drive, which took them from their home town of Edam in the Netherlands to Cape Town in South Africa.

In 2013 the couple conquered the US and Canada, crossing 22 states during their 28,000-kilometre (17,000-mile), 180-day road trip. In 2014 they ticked off another 26,000 kilometres (16,000 miles) through South America in a further 180 days.

So far, the intrepid couple have driven almost 80,000 kilometres (50,000 miles) visiting and supporting various projects run by the international children’s aid organisation SOS – Children’s Villages.

During 2016 and 2017 they plan to continue through New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and India, crossing the Himalayas to China, through Mongolia and back to the Netherlands via Central Europe.

Watch Dirk recount the many highs and occasional lows of their amazing journey:

The car that conquered the world

Travelling the world in a 100-year-old Ford Model T takes serious dedication, but the vintage model is very robust and its simple design makes it easy to service and repair.

Dirk and Trudy Regter – both retired – have owned their 1915 Ford Model T since 1997. Dirk previously owned a 1923 Ford Model T and a 1928 Ford Model A. His lifelong passion for vintage Fords is inherited from his father and grandfather.

Ford built 15,000,000 Model Ts between 1908 and 1927. Production started in the U.S. but quickly expanded worldwide, including assembly plants in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain and the U.K. The Ford Model T helped put the world on wheels, and owed its mass appeal to being affordable, reliable and easy to maintain with standard, interchangeable parts.

“In Africa we had to weld a broken front wheel at the local blacksmith,” Dirk said. “I’m pretty handy and a screwdriver, hammer, some duct tape, tie wraps and tensioning straps go a long way”.

The Regters’ Ford Model T is powered by a 3.0-litre petrol engine and remains in the same specification as when it left the factory in 1915, apart from larger tyres for the wooden-spoked wheels, which make the ride softer and more bearable over long journeys. A set of tyres will last around 15,000 km (9,300 miles) on normal roads, but many fewer miles on some of the rough, unpaved tracks tackled by the Regters in regions such as Africa and South America.

“On the border of South Africa and Botswana we met a farmer who had an old Ford Model T in the shed, he gave us the tyre off of it as a gift to help us on our way,” Dirk said.

And the highlight of their journey?

"Highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco is beautiful; steep slopes, deep ravines, mountains on one side and wonderful view of the ocean on the other. It’s breath-taking."

Last modified: March 23, 2016

Written by 3:48 pm Motoring