How the Model T Got Its Nickname: Tin Lizzie

The Origin Story of the Most Influential Car of the 20th-century

Despite its initial humble appearance, the Model T became the most influential car of the 20th-century. Priced so that the average American could afford it, Henry Ford sold his Model T from 1908 until 1927.

Many also may know the Model T by its nickname, the "Tin Lizzie." But how did the Model T get its nickname?

A 1922 Car Race 

In the early 1900s, car dealers would try to create publicity for their new automobiles by hosting car races.

In 1922, a championship race was held in Pikes Peak, Colorado. Entered as one of the contestants was Noel Bullock and his Model T, named "Old Liz."

Since Old Liz looked the worse for wear as it was unpainted and lacked a hood, many spectators compared Old Liz to a tin can. By the start of the race, the car had the new nickname of "Tin Lizzie."

But to everyone's surprise, Tin Lizzie won the race. Having beaten even the most expensive other cars available at the time, Tin Lizzie proved both the durability and speed of the Model T.

The surprise win of Tin Lizzie was reported in newspapers across the country, leading to the use of the nickname "Tin Lizzie" for all Model T cars.

Rise to Fame

Henry Ford's Model T cars opened up the roads the America's middle-class. It was affordable because of Ford's simple but ingenious use of the assembly line, which increased productivity. The Model T was named the most influential car of the 20th-century as it became a symbol of America's modernization.

Modern Usage

Tin Lizzie is still a term used to describe a small, cheap car that looks like it is in a beat-up condition. But keep in mind that looks can be deceiving!