Since 2012 Dirk Regter and wife Trudy, from the Netherlands, have been traveling across the globe in their 1915 Model T in order to raise money for SOS Children’s Villages International. Their Model T World Tour brought them to Michigan in 2013; when they asked us if they could bring their Model T to Greenfield Village, we were happy to oblige.
Learn more about Dirk and Trudy’s tour below.
The Henry Ford: Where have you traveled so far?
Dirk: We’ve traveled through Europe, Italy, Greece, up to Israel, Jordan and then into Egypt. Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and all the way to Botswana, to South Africa to Cape Town. And then we ship the cars, the Model T, and we have a sport vehicle, the Land Rover with camping stuff and spare parts because we prefer camping. And we ship the cars from Cape Town to Houston. And we started in the beginning of this year in Houston and we made the loop from Houston to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, through the Rockies up to Calgary, through Canada, and Macon New York, Hershey, and now we’re in Detroit. And we continue our trip from here to Houston again. And then we continue our trip next year Central America, South America.
What inspired this trip, this world tour?
Oh yes. I’ll tell you. In 2007, I ride with this same Model T a trip from Peking in China, to Mongolia, Russia all the way down to Paris for a trip about to 10,000 miles. I made that trip for fundraising for 2 projects for children in Mongolia for disabled children. And after that trip we collected about $200,000. And from that money we built two projects for disabled children in Mongolia. And after the trip we decide to make a longer trip all around the world to raise money for orphaned children.
Is there a reason you picked these particular foundations you wanted to raise money for?
Yes. Because we wanted to do something for children.
Why did you decide to take a Model T around the world?
My grandfather worked at a transport company, and in the 20s he had Model T’s. And my father also had Model Ts and a Model A. So when I was young, I grew up with Model Ts and Model As and old cars so I’m rather familiar with Model Ts.
What’s been the reactions from other people as you were crossing the world on Model Ts?
Ah, last week we traveled through Africa, I showed you on the map. And in Africa, people don’t know anything about classic cars. So even the police men or customers would ask, “What is this kind of vehicle? Did you build it on your own?” I told them, “Well it’s a Model T,” they don’t understand it. And when we came to the States in Houston and we traveled through the States and Canada, people know of Model Ts and they’re so excited and they want to tell you stories about Model Ts and they invite you to their club. And in the States and Canada, it’s amazing how much people know about Model Ts. And they’ll tell you they’re part of a classic car club or used to own a Model T. They will invite you to their club meetings. People have barbeques for us.
That’s awesome. So it’s very hospitable.
You have very quick contact with people when you are driving in a Model T. Especially in the States and Canada.
And what’s been your favorite stop on your tour so far?
My favorite stop? That’s a difficult question because…
You’ve been to so many different places?
Yes. We have been to so many different places, and Africa was also very beautiful. We would travel, through example, Botswana. There were a lot of elephants. And one time we were in a campsite and in the night time I woke up and there were four animals, elephants around our tent.
And they were looking for water and they smelled water in our tent so I was a little bit scared at the time. So I said, “Go away please!” It was a special moment. We met a lot of people in the Model T Ford Club of America here, and they also have their own museum in Richmond, Indiana. And we were there also. We have seen so many nice places.
So you’re finishing off in the states and going through Central America…
So where does the tour end?
Now we go to Houston and we store the car there. Then we go back home to celebrate Christmas with our children and grandchildren. And we pick up the cars next year and we go to Central and South America. And from there, from Brazil, we got to New Zealand. In New Zealand after that Australia, this year. And then Thailand, China and then back to Mongolia to start two projects there. And then back to Holland. I think we will be back in the end of 2015.
And how can people donate, say they want to give to the organization, how can they learn about your fundraising efforts?
We have a website, ModelTworldtour.com. And if you want to see our several events, you can see it through our website. And if you want to make a donation, you can make a donation fee through our website.
What has been your favorite part of today, your visit to the Henry Ford?
Driving with a Model T through Greenfield Village, it was very special.
That is probably the only time you can do it by yourself all alone out there.
I was one time before here and I saw Model Ts driving and but its very special to drive your own Model t through Greenfield Village.
Definitely, it’s not everyday that happens. And this has been your 3rd visit now, correct, to The Henry Ford?
Yes. And what’s your favorite part of the museum?
There’s a place where you can see a Model T hanging in parts.
Oh, the Exploded Model T.
Yes. The Exploded Model T. So beautiful, yes.
Well we’re honored, we’re so happy that you wanted to come and visit its great that you we got to give you pretty much a personal day in the village and that’s great.
Thank you very much.
Thank you so much for including us.