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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?

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 (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 nickame of "Tin Lizzie." 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.


October 21, 2008 at 10:51 am
(1) gary mcleod says:

That’s the third explanation I’ve heard for “Tin Lizzie.”

1. A popular name for reliable horses at the time of the Model T was Elizabeth,Lizzie for short. Thus, the name.

2. Very reliable maids at the time were called Lizzie, and you guessed it, they were African Americans.

So, which is it?

April 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm
(2) Shane says:

Im guessing all 3 answers are right .

May 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm
(3) Lee says:

Tin Lizzie is first recorded in 1915 according to Bill Bryson so a race in 1922 seems an unlikely source for this expression

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