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.