My Model A. Ford By Charles Warren

Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
Wednesday, November 18, 2015, Page 5

Yes, this is a picture of my 1929 Model A Ford. [Photograph unavailable but representation photograph used instead] I purchased this car in 1957. It had been in a little accident but at that time would have cost more than it was worth to repair it. At that time, the car might have been worth $500 fixed up.

I had all used parts to fix it and was only out my labor, as some of you know, I have always been a lover of Model A Ford cars. I could not see this car with only 25,000 miles going to the salvage yard and being crushed.

My father bought a new 1928 Model A Ford almost identical to this one, same color with black fenders. All Ford cars at this time came with black fenders.

Henry Ford almost went broke when he replaced the Model T with the Model A during the fall of 1927. The list price on some Model T’s was only $250, but didn’t have starters or lights or side curtains. They were about like a buggy with a motor. My car is pretty plain but does have a starter and lights, windshield wipers and a heater. The wood was used from shipping crates.

My sons and I took the body off of the frame and completely restored it, and in some ways it might be better than when it was new.

Some things you might like to know about the car is it has a 4 cylinder engine with valves in black. Cylinders are 3 7/8” bore with 4 ½” stroke producing about a whopping 40 horse power. A top speed of 60 miles per hour, with an average driving speed of 40 to 45 miles per hour. It has cruise control. Ha! (I may need to explain. It has a gas lever you can set the speed and will maintain the same speed as long as the terrain is level.) New cars will maintain the same speed regardless of the terrain. It has three on the floor and 21” wheels.

I purchased my first car in 1947. It was a Model A Ford Coupe. I put 40,000 miles on it and some were rather fast as you recall I was a teenager. I made several trips to Des Moines to the State Fair and also St. Joe, Missouri.

When I sold the coupe, the man that bought it had a little story about the car. Nine Eagles Lake was being built. I think it was completed but no water in it. A bet was on who could get to the top of the damn starting at the bottom and get to the top first. Guess who won? My old Ford Coupe. The truth of the matter was that the Model A didn’t have enough power to spin the wheels and the other cars with much more power spun their wheels and almost spun out. The gist of the story, don’t under estimate what an old Model A can do.

Did you know there was a model of an airplane that used the Model A engine to power their plane? North of Creston there is a museum that has planes displaying the engine in their plane.

Another thing, can you imagine the life of a Model A? Did you know very few Model A’s ever saw a hard surface road? Most of their life was on dirt, mud and frozen ground. They didn’t have a filter on the carburetor as it might have cost $2 or $3.

Times were very hard and these cars were not maintained very well. Very few cars were cooled with permanent anti-freeze. Some times alcohol and kerosene were used because of being cheaper. Some owners used water and drained the radiator so it wouldn’t freeze when not in use, as very few roads were hard surface.

When driving on mud roads with chains required more power than the cars would have; this would shorten the life of the engine. Imagine driving on this road the next morning, frozen with many pounds of frozen mud on the fenders bouncing over the rough roads. No wonder we see many old cars with broken fenders.

One thing that was good in those old days, gas was cheap, about 10 cents per gallon. I could fill the 10 gallon tank for $1.00. Yes, that was true, but I worked for my uncle on the farm for 50 cents per hour.

One more thing, dad drove his Model A until 1949. He had his name on the list to get a new car. It was hard to get a new car as no new cars were made during World War II. The week before Easter his 1949 Ford arrived. What a happy family to think our new car had arrived. It was a beautiful blue color with white wall tires. It had a V8 motor and overdrive. You would have thought it was a Cadillac.

I would have to say, his old car was one of a few cars that never saw much mud or chains. We lived on Highway 69 and that road was paved most of the life of the car. It was a sad day to see our old Model A go and we wondered if it would get the good care dad gave it.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, December of 2015
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