Highlands & Islands

Sculptors sought for Ben Nevis Ford Model T sculpture

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Media captionFootage from the BFI's Britain on Film collection shows the journey of a Ford Model T car driving down Ben Nevis in 1911

Artists have been sought to create a life-size bronze replica of a Ford Model T car that was driven to the summit of Ben Nevis in 1911.

Henry Alexander Jr, the son of Scotland's first Ford dealer, drove the Model T up and then down the mountain.

The publicity stunt was to show that the mass produced American car was superior to hand-crafted British ones.

Highland Council has sought a contractor to develop, cast and install the sculpture in Fort William.

The replica is to be installed in the town's Cameron Square.

Image copyright BFI
Image caption The footage from more than 100 years ago is in the care of BFI’s Britain on Film collection
Image copyright BFI
Image caption Footage from the BFI’s Britain on Film collection shows the Model T on its descent of Ben Nevis

In a notice inviting bids for the work, Highland Council said that up to £89,000 was available for the contract.

A group called The Ben Bronze Model T has been promoting the idea of the statue in Fort William, the nearest town to Ben Nevis.

In 2011, a team of about 60 volunteers carried a dismantled replica of a Model T Ford car up and then back down from the summit of Ben Nevis.

The attempt, made in strong winds, hail and snow, was successfully completed.

Image copyright Ben Nevis Bronze Ford Committee
Image caption A mock up of the planned sculpture

Volunteers carried wheels, seats and the chassis. Other parts of the car were put into 40 bags weighing 10 pounds (4kg) each.

After being reassembled on the summit the car was again dismantled for the descent.

Parts of the that replica car would be available to artists as templates for the sculpture, Highland Council said.

Footage of the original drive on Ben Nevis was thought to have been lost, before being found.

The film, which is in the care of the British Film Institute, shows a peat bank being dynamited to make the journey a bit smoother for the Model T.

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