Ford Model T ‘a diamond’ donation

It’s older than the students, and the teachers too. It’s even older than the school building that is its new home.

The 1924 Ford Model T, recently donated to Lake Braddock Secondary School in Fairfax County, is the oldest car ever donated to the school system.

“We’ve gotten a couple of ’50s; Chevys, Bel Airs,” said Chad Maclin, the school system’s program manager for trade and industrial education. “But this is the oldest we’ve ever received.”

Maclin said the school system receives about 400 to 500 donated cars every year, with some more exotic than others. (Dodge Caravans? Those ubiquitous suburban people-movers adored by soccer-moms and taekwondo-dads? “We get those in droves,” Maclin said.)

The most unusual donations include a Range Rover that had traveled twice to the Arctic Circle, a 1949 Dodge Coronet convertible and a 2007 Toyota Prius driven for 3 years with more than 400,000 on the odometer. (Woe to that eco-friendly commuter!)

The 1924 Model T is not pristine, but soon will be, Maclin said. The automotive technology students at Lake Braddock will complete a 300-point inspection of the car and refurbish the vehicle into running condition.

Maclin said the car will be used in homecoming parades and will be showcased at automotive industry competitions.

“Sometimes we get these diamonds and it’s good for kids. . . . It’s not just fixing a car, we teach them all aspects of it,” Maclin said, including the car’s origins and Ford Motor Company history.

Lisa Shaler-Clark, a Burke resident, donated the Model T to Lake Braddock in mid-December. The car had been in her late- husband’s family for more than a half-century, since his grandfather purchased the Model T from its original owner in 1954.

“At that time, it was 30 years old and already considered a classic,” Shaler-Clark said.

She said that when her family used to live in the Detroit area, they would drive it in the Woodward Dream Cruise, a classic car rally in Michigan.

Shaler-Clark said she gave it to Lake Braddock, her daughter’s alma mater, so that “another generation of Americans get to play with this great historic car. . . . The chances kids and teenagers have to work on these cars is getting scarcer and scarcer.”

Maclin estimated that the Model T, once completely refitted by the students, could be worth as much as $23,000.

Back in 1926, a Ford Model T sold for $310.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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