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A Worthy Project: 1931 Ford Model A Pickup

In one of the mysteries of life, Model A Ford prices are on the rise.  This is in almost direct contrast to the rest of the prewar herd.  Why is that?  Perhaps the simple, elegant simplicity that made the car such a hit when it was produced is the reason enthusiasts of every generation fall in love with them.  Or are there other factors at play? If you are looking for an involved project on a simple vehicle, then Barn Finds reader extraordinaire T.J. has the perfect pickup for you.  Take a look at this 1931 Ford Model A pickup for sale on Craigslist in Burien, Washington.  Is this needy but complete pickup project worth the $5,900 asking price?

It is sad to see interest wane in prewar automobiles.  If you believe in preserving our automotive history, then the obstacles for these vehicles to overcome are many.  First off, the generation that saw them on city streets when they were new is almost gone.  Second, parts are very hard to come by for all but the most popular examples.  Third, Americans are just not hands-on people anymore.  The number of people that have the tools, room, and talent to restore a prewar car is small.  There are a plethora of talented professionals that can restore a vehicle to anything from a local show car to a Pebble Beach winner.  The problem is that economic conditions are at war with the disposable income needed for such endeavors.

So, with all of these forces allying to drive prices down, why is the popularity of the Ford Model A on the rise?  A large part of that popularity is due to the availability of parts and the simplicity of the basic design.  You can even get a brand new five-main bearing engine for a Model A that is balanced and uses insert bearings instead of Babbit.  Another reason is that there is plenty of literature and online resources to help you diagnose and repair any issue that a Model A might face.  All of these contributing factors help to make the Model A popular, but the two main Model A Ford clubs are probably the biggest reason for the car’s continued success.

The Model A Ford Club of America and the Model A Restorers Club are two clubs that have built up a tremendous history of combining the love of these automobiles with the inclusion of social activities for the family.  Members enjoy large national and regional meets, a network of local clubs with a long history of service, frequent tours, and activities that include the whole family in the hobby.  These clubs work on the theory that Model A ownership should be generational.  In other words, involving the family ensures that Model A Ford ownership carries on as an integral part of the family culture.

So, would this 1931 Model A pickup be a good candidate for a Model A restoration?  On the surface, probably not.  The first obstacle is the price.  At $5,900 as an asking price, there is Model As in better condition out there.  Just as water finds its level, so will the price of this Model A.  Looking beyond the mold and debris, this may be a decently solid truck.  The seller tells us that there is some rust on this long-sitting truck.  However, the claim is made that it is still solid overall.  It was originally purchased in Montana but brought to Washington sometime in the mid-1980s.  Along the way someone has replaced the wood slats in the bed with a sheet of steel and a set of 1935 Ford wheels has been added.

The only other addition of note is that those wheels do roll but the tires will not hold air.  The pictures show several interesting and non-original changes to the vehicle beyond the wheels and the sheet of steel in the bed.  Getting past the odd combination of paint and trim, it appears that the electrical system makes liberal use of more modern wire.  The wiring coming out of the radiator shell above is especially curious.  Other issues that might be problematic are whatever might be lurking under the debris on the floor, the vinyl on the roof, and the gas tank.  Whoever purchases this vehicle has some work ahead of them.

Yet, thanks to the availability of parts and assistance, this truck is still very restorable.  It will just take a lot of time and money.  This may also be a decent vehicle once it is cleaned up and inspected properly.  Hopefully, it finds a good home and gets a proper restoration.  Any Model A Ford that has made it this long deserves a shot at becoming a part of a family again.

Have you ever owned a Model A Ford?  Were you in a club?  What was the experience like?  Please share in the comments.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Do agree the asking price vs.the amount of money and labor to put it back on the road doesn’t make it a really good deal. The thing that makes it interesting for me is the fact I’m one of the few mentioned with the talent and tools to rebuild one of these. I’m not seeing the younger generations with enough skills to fix anything that’s broken or even change a flat tire. It can and should be restored as the pickups are rapidly being put on the endangered species list.

    Like 20
    • David Frank David Frank Member

      These A’s are teaching a lot of kids how to wrench on old iron. There are younger folks showing up at club meetings and at Saturday morning wrench sessions. On Sunday drives I watch kids walk past other cars like the museum’s ’67 Camaro RS Convertible to ride in my Town Sedan. I talk to young parents about the inexpensive prices for cars and parts, the support from clubs, the simplicity of working on these old Fords. The last couple of A’s we’ve sold at the museum were purchased by younger folks. I see some hope for these Model A’s.

      Like 15
      • bobhess bobhess Member

        Glad to hear good news about the car hobby for a change. Keep up your good work.

        Like 1
    • MikeG.

      I had to sell my ’29 Model A Murray bodied Town Sedan. I owned it for 62 years. It was given to me for my 12th birthday. There was zero rust on the body, and still had a n excellent original mohair interior. During my formative years, I completely disassembled and restored all factory components that needed attention. She was an absolute sweetheart. I hope her new owner loves and cares for her as much as I did.

      Like 18
    • Peter

      If you want a pretty Garage Queen:
      go buy one with yellow wheels ready to go on parade for $10k.

      this is an old truck and should be treated as such. it needs
      -4 tubes for the tires
      -Headlights if not sealed beams (hard to tell)
      -6v positive ground Alternator tor the power for headlights
      -Points, Plugs, Cap and Rotor
      -brake shoes
      -DELUXE Dead Stop Brake Energizer Kit ($220)
      -Signal lights if you insist
      -Stock heater off of manifold (maybe $60.00 ebay)
      you have a usable pickup truck, goes at least 50mph
      it is a fun vehicle
      The existing brakes are with steel rods NOT cables. The old 40w head light bulbs are only good when you are the only car ever on the road.
      I have had as much as 1,800 pounds in my truck,
      I have use this ’29 pickup to push around 6,000 trucks. Lots of torque; easy.
      for years it was my only truck after a tree fell on my S-10 PU.
      A: maybe $1,000 for parts and your labor is all basic,
      B: The Ted kit for the brakes is a fantastic improvements; brakes lock up like modern brakes, while using all the original parts.
      C. the wires coming out of the radiator shell are for the headlights.
      D. The “Anderson Book” for repair is a superior guide for any level mechanic; all you need
      E. Two large supplies have all the parts you could ever need.
      drive it like you stole it.
      ’29 PU Black
      “29 PU White

      Like 13
  2. Classic Ford truck Luv

    I like it .
    I wish it was closer to Midwest on shipping .

    These are fairly str8 forward and easy to restore.

    I would leave original drive train in it and not hot rod it.

    I guess me like millions and millions others are the last few that can restore it back.

    I am only a clone genetically from my father who was mechanically inclined too. 😉

    Its a real nice body style.

    Like 7
  3. Joe Haska

    Jeff, Your write up and description of this Model A are dead nuts on, Tf any one has the idea they want a Model A, just read what you said and use it as very good advise.

    Like 6
  4. Kurt Member

    As a former Model A owner I can say they are fun to work on, lots of parts are available, and are really slow! The pickup trucks always look neat with an original ad for a hardware or produce store on the side. Ace Hardware?

    Like 6
  5. HC Member

    Considering all that needs done it may be on the pricey side, but is what it is. Here we are again with early Fords with cable mechanical brakes. That’s a big deal both $ and labor wise. I’d keep the interior, exterior stock looking as possible. Mechanically, I would love to do a small block 289 or 302, 8.5 or 9″ rear end with updated suspension and 12v wiring. After all that you may be underwater reselling it, but you’d have a model A truck you could drive and enjoy.

    Like 7
    • MikeG.

      I had to sell my ’29 Model A Murray bodied Town Sedan. I owned it for 62 years. It was given to me for my 12th birthday. There was zero rust on the body, and still had a n excellent original mohair interior. During my formative years, I completely disassembled and restored all factory components that needed attention. She was an absolute sweetheart. I hope her new owner loves and cares for her as much as I did.

      Like 2
    • MikeG.

      Model A Ford mechanical brakes employed brake rods, rather than cables. Properly adjusted, they worked well.

      Like 3
      • HC Member

        I wouldnt trust early 30s mechanical brakes, whether rods or cables with a modern drivetrain. If it were mine I’d update to hydraulic brakes. Disc’s in front and drums on rear

        Like 2
    • MikeG.

      Model A Fords employed brake rods, not cables. Properly adjusted, they worked quite well.

      Like 2
    • Steven Crouse

      If u do u ruin the originality and its actual worth and you can still enjoy driving it. Please don’t s rew it up like that keep it original

      Like 0
  6. dogwater

    Sorry, days gone by if you get a body shop to take this on you would be over your head with todays cost for materials and labor.

    Like 0
  7. Robt

    Great line Jeff,
    “The problem is that economic conditions are at war with the disposable income needed for such endeavors.”
    In a nutshell.

    Like 3
  8. M Vickery

    The thing I would do with this is mechanically restore it and fix the other issues as time goes by. On the issue of mechanical brakes, with cast iron drums, the mechanical brakes can lock up the wheels, which is about all you should need with the low speeds you’re traveling in it. I’d offer the guy half of what he wants if it was near me.

    Like 1
  9. MikeG.

    Drove Model A Fords for many years..never had brakes lock-up

    Like 1
    • HC Member

      Maybe not if you were driving with the original 4 banger but with a updated small block Ford V8, I would have to update to hydraulic brakes before I would feel comfortable driving this vintage car/truck

      Like 2
  10. Maggy

    What goes around….comes around. Look at anything humans liked then shelved then liked again.

    Like 1
  11. Edwin Somers

    Someone did add a sheet of metal to the bed floor. FORD! It’s a 1931 May and above Wide Bed. These beds had a steel overlay in the bed and different tailgate and fenders. I have my Grandfather’s ’31 Wide Bed.

    Like 0
  12. Chris In Australia

    Don’t tell the Ford Australia apologists. They like to dream that Ford Australia invented the “Coupe Utility” in 1934.

    Like 0

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