It All Started with a Ford Model T

January 11, 2015

Bill Marriott Model T

It all started with a Ford Model T and a couple who had fallen in love. On the day they married, they left Salt Lake City, Utah and drove east until they hit Washington, D.C. The trip took 11 days. They went over a lot of hills, and the ‘ol Ford Model T kept overheating. It was so tight in the cockpit that I have no idea how my parents sat comfortably in the front of that car. I guess they didn’t sit comfortably. Do you know what air conditioning was back then? The AC was the window opening half way and praying for a gust of wind.

On the first night of their trip, they slept in Rock Springs, Wyoming over a pool hall. There was so much noise that they could not sleep a wink. One night halfway across Wyoming, their car drove into a ditch. Out of nowhere, they heard the sound of a chain on the ground. Out popped a cowboy on a huge horse, asking if they needed help getting out of the ditch for $2. Ten minutes later…the car was back in another ditch. Luckily, the ol’ cowboy was right behind them. They sure were adventurers, and they knew that there would be ups and downs, but at the end, they would always have their marriage and the excitement of starting a new business.  This was not a typical honeymoon in the 1920s, but for my mother and father -- a couple of business-minded adventurers -- this was the perfect option.

June 8th 1927 marked the beginning of my parent’s marriage and the founding of Hot Shoppes. They were so determined to start that they cancelled their wedding reception and used the $500 they had saved to travel across the U.S to invest in their Root Beer stand in Washington D.C. They had no idea it would be a success, but they were determined to make it work.

I love to reflect on the beginning of Marriott International. If my parents had chosen to honeymoon differently, instead of a cross-country trip to Washington D.C. in that Model T, I wonder where we would be today.

To remember "how it all started," we have a similar Ford Model T on display at Marriott Headquarters! Be sure to read below on “how to” drive a Ford Model T. It is much more difficult than today’s automatics.  I actually started this beautiful old car.

To start the car:

* Set hand brake, retard spark advance, set throttle speed on steering column

* Turn on key, use foot to press starter button.

* When engine starts, advance throttle and spark advance to about 1/4 engine speed.

* Release hand brake and move to neutral position. Press pedal on left to engage low gear and start moving forward.

* After you are rolling along, and are ready to shift into high gear, lift foot off pedal and push brake lever forward.  Advance spark and increase throttle to speed up.

* To reverse car, move hand brake to neutral and press middle pedal on floor.  Engine brake is the third pedal on the right floorboard.

* While driving the car remember to "dance" or slightly press pedals to keep oil on the bands to keep brakes and drive bands operational.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.

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I Miss you Mr. Bill, I miss your Father.
Great Men who knew how it is like to start from Scratch
and helped others do likewise

it was a inspiring story Sir.. and nice instructions to start the car

Stories like this one are a nice reminder that anything is possible if you are determined to make it work. Life is an adventure waiting to happen, as long as you are willing to take that first step/leap. I love that you keep a similar model at your headquarters to serve as a reminder, because it's always good to remember where you came from!

It sounds complicated to operate the Model T, but seems a lot of fun as well, as you will have to do far more steps to drive the car, but driving it will keep you more conscious on what you do while steering the wheels. How far is that technology from present!

Model T are so rare ; how interesting to keep the instructions for so long!

This story is so touching and amazing !
What it must have taken in those days to collect $500.
even today $500 has so much of value !

Awesome story, the Ford T Model two american classic companies of course the Marriott and Ford Motor Company!

Great story!! Thank you for sharing :O)

Great post! Thank you for sharing.

Would be nice to have one of those on display in the front drive of all our hotels!


That was much needed story to remind us all that success takes sacrifice and time. I hope to reflect on this blog often during the coming year as I persevere in my filmmaking goals. My family and I really like staying at Marriott Hotels and had the pleasure of "finding " one in St. Kitts last year. It was a remarkable hotel and experience. We hope to return one day soon.

Thanks for another good story! Keep 'm coming please.

Lindo automóvel...