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Amazing Garage Find: 1931 Ford Model A

I would be willing to bet that almost every one of our faithful Barn Finds readers dreams of the day when they open the door to a shed or a barn to find some well-preserved classic lurking inside. I can think of something even better, and it is one of those stories that we rarely get to hear. A gentleman purchased a house in Oxford, Massachusetts, and was told that the sale included the car parked under a cover in the garage. Fast forward many years, and the owner has finally peeled back the cover. What was revealed is a 1931 Ford Model A that has undergone a refurbishment at some point. It still presents well after all of these years, and the owner has decided to sell it in an untouched state. He has listed this Ford here on eBay with a BIN of $15,000, but there is the option to submit an offer.

With the cover removed, this old Ford looks pretty stunning. The owner acknowledges that he knows nothing about classic cars, but it seems that he has a good one. The panels appear to be laser straight, while the Dark Blue and Black paint shine beautifully. There is no evidence of rust, while all of the trim and plated pieces are free from visible corrosion. A few hours with a high-quality polish should see them returned to their best. The wheels look like they have accumulated no miles since the previous owner restored them, and the tires also look new. However, this Model A does leave us with one puzzle that the owner is unable to solve. I’m not surprised that there’s no top, as this is a common occurrence. Less common is to find a classic car like this that appears to be so spotless but is missing its doors. There’s no trace of them, and the owner has no idea where they are. The buyer might have to perform a search to find replacements. A brief internet search allowed me to locate an extremely clean pair of secondhand doors. The seller was asking $400 for the pair, so even allowing for preparation and a repaint in the correct color, addressing this rather odd shortfall will not be too expensive.

It seems that this Ford’s drivetrain doesn’t hold any surprises. A 201ci flathead 4-cylinder engine and a 3-speed manual transmission are both what we would expect. The little four would have been producing 40hp, making the Model A feel pretty spritely. That was a few years ago before the current owner purchased the property. I am worried about the amount of accumulated corrosion present on the plugs, although the rest of the engine bay looks free from problems. It may not run, but the owner says that the motor turns freely. Maybe it won’t take a lot of work to coax this classic back to life.

When we turn our attention to this Ford’s interior, the positive vibes just keep coming. Everything presents exceptionally well, with upholstery free from rips, painted surfaces that shine brightly, and a dash cluster that should respond positively to a spot of elbow grease. I believe that a weekend spent in a workshop would have this interior shining like a new penny.

When we flip open the back, we find that the Model A is complete with a rumble seat and that this upholstery also looks exceptionally nice. I have a confession to make here; I have had the privilege of driving some pretty incredible cars during my life, but I have never ridden in the rumble seat of a classic car. I am probably getting a bit long in the tooth for such escapades, but I’ve always believed that we should all tick off as many items as possible on our Bucket List if it is remotely possible. That’s on mine, so I need to do something about it.

This 1931 Ford Model A is a real mystery machine. It isn’t clear who restored it, when they performed the work, or why they chose to throw a cover over it, but someone is set to reap the benefit. It is also a mystery why it would be so spotlessly clean but be missing its doors. It makes me wonder whether they might have been left in a paint shop somewhere and whether they are waiting for someone to collect them. Even if the buyer does have to replace them, it’s not going to break the bank. Is this one that you might be tempted to pursue further?


  1. Steve R

    What’s there may be nice, but it seems too pricey for a roller missing it’s doors and top. The seller might be working from the script that suggests you need to start somewhere, that may be the case since offers are being accepted. With a little luck the seller and a potential buyer can work out a deal.

    I’m sure the opening price will be roundly criticized, but I’d rather deal with someone like this than the seller that put $1 in their ad.

    Steve R

    Like 12
    • David Frank David Frank Member

      The fuel bowl on the firewall says early ’30 or before. The fuel shutoff is thus inside the car under the gas tank. (The story the folks in PA insisted on moving the valve out of the car.) A 31 would have a “dented firewall” withe the gas valve there and a different carburetor. And as Touring said, the instrument cluster with the oval (not round) speedometer says the same thing early ’30 or before. This appears to be a Deluxe Roadster introduced in early 1930 because of the side mount, folding windshield and cowl lights. You’ll also have to be careful buying doors because they are different depending on the model.

      Like 3
  2. BlondeUXB Member

    Radiator grill says 1930 (?)

    Like 2
    • TouringFordor

      As does the dash cluster

      Like 0
  3. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Dream of the day? I have found many here in Texas, but usually the owner believes it to be a gold mine. I have found some though through the years. I know of a 29 Ford roadster pickup in driveable condition for around $5k. Or a 64 Buick Riviera complete but needing full restoration for $1000.00. I know where a 63 Ford R code Galaxie is but not far sale at this time. There are many others and if not for the loss of my dear wife and our life savings leaving me grieving and near destitute I would be out driving the country side in search and purchase of some of these gems.
    God bless America

    Like 8
  4. Jeff S

    My guess is that the doors are sitting in the corner of the body shop where the repaint was done. Most likely the paint on the doors didn’t match and were sent back to try again. A canvas of local body shops would be warranted. You might get luck and find them if they were not thrown in the scrap pile or sold…

    Like 2
  5. charlie Member

    Just what I always wanted, but the great state of CA in its effort to improve its roads has made it impossible to leave our small (pop 200) community without going on an interstate standard highway for 10 miles in either direction by building the new road on the ROW of the old one in part. The typical speed is in the 70’s, even the semi’s, and cruising alone at 45 mph would be a danger to oneself and others. So, like the dog that chases the bus, what would you do with it if you got it?

    Like 1
  6. Newt

    As does the firewall.

    Like 0
  7. Robert Greenhaus

    She’s a 1930, not a 1931.

    Like 0
  8. RoughDiamond

    @Jeff S-that’s a brilliant idea!

    Like 0
  9. Bimmerbill

    I am sure it is a ’30 with that ’30 grille shell and all the other comments stated above.

    Like 0
  10. stillrunners

    On the high side agree – hey let’s not insult the guy with our knowledge !

    Funny – he got the house and everything in it – so he most likely got it on the cheap. Said the previous owner said it was a 1931 – maybe it was the son or daughter just getting rid of the estate or maybe wasn’t sold until late 1930 or early 1931 so the title says – 1931 ? Is there a title ?

    Like 0
  11. Gray Wolf

    Looks like a little custom header in place. Not stock.

    Like 0
  12. Bimmerbill

    If you will research the picture of the engine you will find that is a stock exhaust manifold.

    Like 0
  13. Wayne from Oz

    So the owner got the car with the house purchase, and although many years passed by, he never ever looked under the cover? Try pulling the other leg, it plays jingle bells. Also with the amount of rust around the spark plugs, it wasn’t the smartest move to turn the motor over to see if it was stuck or not. I would have removed the plugs and put oil down the bores.

    Like 2
  14. Paolo

    I get the impression that the car was painted in that garage judging by the color of the paint pattern test on the back wall.
    The back story is interesting and some of it might be true. I think that the Barn Find editors look specifically for cars with convoluted back stories because they know that their readers will tune right in and generate lots of discussion as well as clicks or whatever drives monetization of websites.
    I appreciate it, it helps keep my B.S. detector calibrated. It is sometimes fun to untangle some of these stories and try to make sense of them. Some are tiny but great short stories of fiction, some reveal a subtext of disorder, sorrow, poverty or crime. They are usually worth reading.

    Like 1

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