“When a Ford gets sick,
Hit her with a brick,
And she’ll ramble right along just the same.”
Here’s a humorous artist-signed postcard of a drawing of a man tossing a brick at the radiator of a Model T, while the lady in her stylish hat waits unconcernedly in the passenger seat. A billy goat is tugging on the back fender, thinking, “This Tin Lizzy makes some feed.”
This is one from a comical series by Indiana native Conrad “Cobb” X. Shinn (1887 – 1951) who produced many illustrations, also including those of the comic “Dutch accent” type that were so popular in the day, and others of profiles of beautiful women. His works can be easily found online.
“The Little Ford Rambled Right Along” seems to have been the inspiration for Shinn’s Tin Lizzy illustrations. This song came out in 1915 and was advertised as the “Greatest Comedy Song Sensation.” The music was by Byron Gay, and lyrics by C.R. Foster and Byron Gay, and was performed by Bill Murray. It starts out about a guy named Jones who is out with his girlfriend in his limo. When the limo breaks down, a guy by the name of Nord (to rhyme) comes along “…in his little old Ford.” And as you can guess, the first guy is quickly out of the picture as Nord and his Ford steal the girl away, whereby guy, girl and car proceed to have a day’s worth of adventures (including meeting up with a mule and a donkey) and bumping into a preacher, who jumps in for a ride resulting in the newly-met couple becoming man and wife. (Heehee) It’s really a clever song; the long and short of it being that the Ford is indestructible no matter what she encounters. The last line of the song is, “When the power gets sick just hit it with a brick and the little Ford will ramble right along!” (From Mitch Taylor’s Ford Model T website.)
As to the term Tin Lizzy or Lizzie, it seems to have been around from at least February of 1915 (the earliest date I found online.) The short clip below is dated a little later, June 4, 1915. Wow, it looks like the report indicates Ford’s capital stock had increased from two million to one hundred million dollars, due to the popularity of the affordable car for the masses!
Modesto Evening News, June 4, 1915, Friday, page 1.
But still, the exact origin of the nickname “Tin Lizzy” seems to be unknown. A couple of good guesses found online are that Lizzie was a common name for a horse, or that Lizzie was a slang phrase used for a domestic servant, with the idea being that “Lizzie” ran all the errands for the household which could now be run with the help of the automobile. But the above article does happen to disprove another theory which was that the term was coined at a race in 1922 at Pike’s Peak in Colorado.
Divided back, unused, artist-signed postcard. Artist: Cobb X. Shinn. Publisher: Commercial Colortype Company. Circa 1915.
Sources: “Model T Music & Lyrics.” www.fordmodelt.net. Web accessed March 6, 2015.
1915, June 4. “Tin Lizzies” Prove to be Profitable to the Ford Auto Company. Modesto Evening News, p. 1. Web accessed March 6, 2015. (Newspapers.com)