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Coal Black In Coal Country: 1931 Ford Model A

If you are like me, you just can’t help but wonder what is in those barns, sheds, and warehouses you see when traveling through rural areas.  My rabid mind conjures up dusty Duesenbergs, lost Shelby Cobras, and abandoned big block Corvettes.  While most of these buildings usually hold nothing more than some abandoned lawn equipment, or some rusty old farming implements, every once in a while you might find a prize inside.  When I look at the building seen in the pictures in this article, I think of how my speculations might have been right a time or two.  Fresh out of your daydreams, take a look at this 1931 Ford Model A found in Bluefield, West Virginia on Craigslist.   While dusty and a little bit shabby, this 1931 is in the correct color, but is the $7500 price correct?

This one looks just like a semi-abandoned Ford should: all black with black wall tires.  While the days of black only Fords had long since past by 1931, you have to admit that the color just looks good on a Model A.  While a number of color options were offered, even multiple colors on some Model As, black was actually only available as a special order color in 1928 and 1929.  1930 and 1931 models saw black return as one of the standard colors.  Some speculate that Ford wanted to get away from the “any color you want as long as it is black” image.

Regardless of the color, this Model A looks to be in very good condition.  While it is hard to tell whether the car is original or just an old restoration, it is fair to assume that this car has been parked for a long while.  To me, that is a good thing.  The longer it has sat, the better chances that the parts are all Ford, either original for the car or new old stock.  Modern reproduction parts are often pretty good, but some are pure junk.  This stretches across the board for many makes and models.  Junk parts from overseas are often purchased by aftermarket parts suppliers, found to be junk, but still sold to customers.  I know one guy who quit working for a prominent Corvette parts supplier over it.

One thing not original in this car is the interior.  It looks like 1960s automobile upholstery material.  People often “restored” older cars by getting them running again, roughing up the finish and shooting a coat of paint over it, and then replacing the interior with whatever they could find.  While it was good to have the car back on the road again, the term tends to get used pretty freely.  The good news is that nearly all of the original parts, except for the interior, look to still be with this one.  You know what you’ve got before you get started on a car like this, and the “upgrades” might make for good points in arguing for a lower price.

The engine and engine compartment look to be untouched.  The original style plug wires and coil are still there, and the car lacks a lot of drivability “upgrades” you see on other Model As.  Following the fuel line from the carburetor, the line leads up into the body rather than under it.  Some of you may not know that the gas tank on a Model A is in the cowl.  Ford caught a bit of grief over this when Model As were coming out.  Some states decided that they were too dangerous, and were moving to outlaw the sale of the car within their borders.  As companies often do, Ford found a way to grease the wheels of government in his favor, and the problem went away.

Overall, this looks to be a solid car that is a perfect candidate for either an original looking runner, or a fantastic candidate for a restoration.  I think most of the car is original, except for the interior and probably the paint.  The interior would have to go immediately, but Model A interiors are not cheap.  Look at spending north of $2,000 for the whole thing from the floor to the ceiling.  While in there, a thorough inspection of the wood in the body would be in order.  If the car has sat under cover for a long time, then everything is probably still useable.  The exterior, at least by looking at the pictures, is probably presentable enough to use as it is.  A proper restoration would promptly put you upside down financially, considering that restored two door sedans currently sell in the $10,000 range.  It would make a nice car if restored though.

So, is it worth $7500?  Maybe.  They say that the car runs and drives, so that is a big plus.  However, the ad has been up for a while, and there appear to be no takers at the asking price.  Prices for Model As are kind of hard to pin down right now because the market is in flux.  Owners are dying off, and there aren’t enough enthusiasts out there that are eager to add a Model A to their collection.  Yet, a lot of people who inherit them think they are worth tens of thousands.  Maybe a caring new owner will be able to negotiate a price that makes that interior purchase a little less painful.


  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    Nice car for someone who wants to drive and fix. The price should be negotiable; I think it’s a little rich for my blood but sometimes I’m referred to as a cheap SOB by some family members. We seem to have a sudden increase in ’30-’31 Model A’s. That’s just fine with me as A-bombs are a lot of fun. There’s a Model A group that makes a rather lengthy run through the Rocky Mountains into the Intermountain Region of the United States and Canada each year. They have been joined by enthusiasts from as far away as Hilton Head, SC. I saw in the neighborhood of 50 A’s at the summit of the Going to the Sun Road (Logan Pass). Everyone was having a good time although some of the cars got a little grumpy (boiled over) the last couple of miles, but then, Back when I was a kid, Dad’s ’57 Olds overheated on that same road….

  2. Madmatt

    I to am glad/sad to see so many really affordable
    pre-ww2 vehicles.It is unbelievable that some of these vehicles aren’t
    worth a lot more?,even the simple ones.I guess that only the brave few
    want a hard to drive,non comfort ,”simple” vehicle anymore?
    I love the sound of these when stock,with very sweet notes of willingness!,
    they surely have their own sound.Very nice example,
    even if it needs some work,not sure about the price though-
    -seems a little high,but might be just about right?
    some of you early iron guys will have to let us know!?

  3. Darrun

    I was somewhat interested at the $7500 asking price. It’s only three hours away, and an easy drive down the interstate. I thought at that price I may be interested in making an offer after looking it over. BUT…I follow the link to the ad, and the seller has updated the ad, and I assume at this time the seller has risen the price to $8500. Now the offer that I felt would be reasonable may be considered low balling. So. I’ll continue watching for another that I consider reasonably priced.

    • hank

      Only 3 hours for me too, but ain’t driving all that way when the price goes up 1500 when the owner sees some interest. Would be fun but won’t waste my time to look at this one.

  4. healeydays

    Well they decided the $7500 price wasn’t fair, so they changed it. What did they go down to? Nope, they went up to $8500.

  5. BobG

    It’s always amazed me at the stories, mystique, and styles of the Model A.
    Mine’s a yellow ’31 Fordor. White interior, yellow material piping, yellow floor mats, dash and trim.
    It has a FORD 331 Stroker with a C46bolt rv cam slapstick tranny, yadda yadda yadda ..
    Did I mention it’s yellow? :-)
    Central AZ

  6. Madmatt

    Yeah, BOB G I think I spotted it on google earth,the other day! LOL
    very sharp,I could tell it was yours, because it was….YELLOW…!!

    • BobG

      Thanks Mad Matt!
      A year and a half from pieces to perfect. A labor of love I tell ya.

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