Eureka Springs resident and car collector, Morris Dillow, loves automotive history and doesn’t mind life in the slow lane. He plans to spend 30 days in the non-passing lane when he drives his 1922 Ford Model T from Tarrytown, N.Y. to Seattle, Wash., on June 15 with 34 other Model T owners from around the world.
Dillow, a 66-year-old a retired master electrician, grew up in Elgin, Ill., where he fell in love with cars at age 14. Over the years, Dillow has restored more than 26 antique cars for himself and private clients Today, his personal collection includes more than 11 classic cars, including one of only three known operational Jewels, built in Massillon, Ohio, in 1907.
Unlike many rare auto collectors, Dillow drives his collection rather than allowing them to become expensive dust collectors. His love of driving and appreciation for history led Dillow to co- organize the 2019 Ocean-to-Ocean Rerun, a re-enactment of America’s first transcontinental automobile race, the 1909 Ocean-to-Ocean Automobile Endurance Contest. Starting in New York City on June 1 with the first competitor reaching Seattle 22 days later, the first place prize was $2000.
“Henry Ford was a true marketing guy who knew he had to prove the durability of his cars,” Dillow said. “This event created an ideal opportunity to show the Model T was affordable and more reliable than any of his competitor’s cars. There were very few paved roads west of the Mississippi River in 1909. Competitors faced running out of gas, fires, getting lost, axle deep mud and even quicksand. Ford heavily advertised the race results after the Model T was first to cross the finish line after 23 days. As a result, it became the worlds’ best selling car in the first half of the twentieth century.”
Dillow and his group will leave Tarrytown on June 15 for the 4000-mile journey to Seattle, which they anticipate will take 30 days.
As a lifetime member and designated co-chair of the 2019 Ocean-to-Ocean Rerun, Dillow and his co-chair, Jon Greisenbeck of Virginia, are anticipating a wonderful historic endurance run of the 110th anniversary of the original race.
(Editor’s Note: Five months after the1909 race, the first place Model T was disqualified due to an engine change during the competition, in violation of the rules. The second place Shawmut car was awarded the win.)