In the world of antique, classic and vintage car collecting, there is a certain lack of agreement over exactly what those terms mean. So much so that to many, the most popular vintage Ford cars, the early Model Ts, wouldn't actually qualify as vintage, although they would still fall into the antique category.
The vintage era
The Nethercutt Museum, which houses a collection of antique, vintage, classic and post-war cars, defines the vintage era as 1916 to 1924, represented by cars that bridged the gap between the expensive and exclusive antique era of the 1890s to 1915, and the classic era of 1925 to 1948. For many, the vintage era is measured from the end of World War I to either 1925 or 1930. However, there is an argument for including even early Model T Fords in the vintage rather than antique category, as they were less expensive, and produced in larger numbers. In the end, it's a matter of personal choice.
Certainly, the Model T Ford Club of America, whose member magazine is named Vintage, would argue the Model T falls into that category as the catalyst that brought about the change. The Touring model, first sold in October 1908, sold 8,670 cars in 1909, its first full year of production, rising to 16,339 in 1910 and 26,853 the following year.
It's hard to support any argument that discounts a car with these kinds of sales figures from the Vintage category, instead classing it with the Model S 1908 Cadillac, of which only 1,482 were sold in 1908 and 5,903 in 1909. By 1919, when the vintage era officially begins, the Model T was selling almost a half million Touring model cars, alone, and more than three-quarters of a million across all models. In fact, by 1919, Ford had sold almost 3.5 million Models Ts.
Although the Model T's successor, the Model A Ford, also struggles to be classed as a vintage model, being manufactured between 1927 and 1931 and only released for public consumption in December 1927, again it's tough to discount the Model A from the vintage era. The Model A features four-wheel brakes; a cast-iron, four-cylinder engine; a battery and ignition system rather than the old-style magneto ignition; and consisted of thousands more parts than the Model T. In fact, the Model A was such a break from the old model, the manufacturing plants were closed for refitting and retooling for months, effectively taking Ford out of the market for a short time.
Whether you consider it a vintage, a classic or pre-classic car, the Model A is definitely up there as the most popular Ford. In just four years, the Model A all but matched the sales figures of the Model T during its 11-year life span.