George Washington’s Axe: 1930 Ford Roadster

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Have you ever seen George Washington’s famous cherry tree murdering axe in a museum?  Neither have I, but there is a running historian joke about the axe handle having been replaced five times and the head twice.  If you get the joke, then you are perfectly prepared to read the tale of this 1930 Ford Model A roadster currently for sale on eBay.  This genuine California hot rod from back in the day is, as the seller says, “an 89 year old hot rod with the scars to prove it.”  It is the repair of these “scars” that stretches the originality of this flat black beast.  If you repair and/or update an original car’s problems, is it really original when you finish?  Take a look at this Ventura, California hot rod and tell us if it is worth the $21,000 buy it now price after all the changes the seller made.

The story is that the seller purchased this car in 2006, and it was in pretty rough condition.  Yet beyond the rust and dust was a bonafide hot rod from the golden age of hot rodding.  The Model A four banger had been swapped out for a Flathead V-8 and the car’s frame had been Z’d.  There were other modifications made to the car by the previous owners as well.  The problem was that some of these modifications were questionable in appearance and safety.  When you consider that early hot rodding was not the high bucks hobby that it has currently evolved into, all of this makes sense.  How good of an automotive engineer were you at 20 years old?

Of course, the car presented the new owner with an originality dilemma.  Cars from this era are a window in time.  Automotive historians want to document how things were done back then, and this information often finds its way into new builds based on the old ways.  The current fascination with Race of Gentlemen type cars comes to mind.  It is also hard to replicate all the little hand made tricks in a way that looks correct.  Age and wear are hard to fake.

On the plus side of the modifications, the seller replaced the almost nonexistent floor, and reupholstered the interior with LeBaron Bonney material.  The mechanical brakes were replaced with Flathead era correct Ford drums on the front.  The big prize is an H&H Flatheads rebuilt 1942 Mercury engine with some additional speed parts added on.  H&H is famous for building some of the best modified Flathead Ford engines around.  Their work doesn’t come cheap either.  This engine is backed up with a modified 1937 Lincoln three speed transmission converted to use an open driveline.

Some of the other modifications are less exciting.  The frame was boxed for strength and a new radiator with an electronic cooling fan was added.  Steering is done through a 1940 style wheel, but the incorrect angles on the steering u-joints make driving a bit of a challenge.  An 8″ Ford rear end and brakes from a 1970 Mustang round out the major changes.

There are other minor alterations listed in the ad.  Together, the changes detract from the uniqueness of the car.  Are they enough to keep the car from selling at the $21,000 buy it now price?  Luckily, there is also an option to bid on the car that currently sits at $13,900.  Where do you think this one will end up?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. OhU8one2

    Value? It’s really hard to say at this point. A lot of the original old parts and the work done for the history part is gone. Never to be that way ever again. So with more modern parts and better engineering methods, the value has to be diminished. Great example of “Dont touch a thing,and you’ll get all the money”. I’m going to watch this one, curiosity has got me.

    Like 1
    • KeithK

      Theseuse’s paradox. In the metaphysics of identity, this hot rod of Theseus is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object. No. Just stop misrepresenting these things. We’re all smarter than that. I think.

      Like 0
  2. Steve R

    What’s left from “back in the day”? It’s a modern hot rod built in a nostalgic style. If it was a true period build or even “period correct”, the price would be significantly higher.

    Steve R

    Like 2
  3. SquareLeft

    It’s a car. More than that, it’s a hotrod – from the first modification that was made “back in the day”, it’s primary mission-in-life was to be driven, and driven fast. So, given the realities of today’s traffic, you can (A) buy an old-time hotrod and park it – and all its patina – so you can trailer it to shows and let the historians can pick it apart or (B) make whatever changes are required to let it keep soldiering on in the capacity it’s had since it was first modified. It’s the new owner’s choice. At least he gets credit for not sticking a small-block Chevy and an automatic transmission in it. For those out there who can’t take option B, would you feel any different if the current owner had found a body, frame, engine and transmission at four different swap meets and built the car you see here?
    I like driving ’em. I will say that I hope that the seller took lots of “before-and-after” photos for posterity… I also hope that he gets his $21k!

    Like 5
  4. bobhess bobhessMember

    I have continually fiddled with every car I’ve ever owned. That’s what you do with these cars if you drive them. Want an original show car that you don’t drive or do you want a modified car you can drive and enjoy? Nice car.

    Like 3
  5. Thomas Allen

    A “pet rock” is still just a rock. But a lot of people bought them.

    Like 0
  6. Bing

    I bought one of these “back in the day” hot rods (29 roadster) off of e bay six years back. Yes, someone did put in a 327 and a turbo 350. My thought was that I would find a flattie and a three speed and go the retro route. Had a mustang front end as well. I put it on the lift, the original frame had more welds and holes drilled in it than a WW II Liberty ship. I drove it around a little and each time I took it out my interest lessoned. I put it back up on e bay and lo and behold a guy from Germany hit the buy it now button and the car went across the pond.
    If you want retro, make it out of period stuff. When you own a car, it is yours to do what ever you wish, just have a plan and a vision of what it will look like when you are done. Stick a bowtie in a model A and you have a 60’s version of a hot rod. And, back in the 60’s nobody was putting auto trannies in cars… I cringe everytime I see that. Just saying.

    Like 1
  7. KurtMember

    I really like it, especially the Offy heads. Wish I had that kind of spare change.And what do you know, that engine is NOT a small block Chevy.

    Like 0
    • Bing

      Hi Kurt, didn’t say the car had a SBC in it, I was referring to the car I bought, then sold, because the mist mash of parts from different eras ruined what was at one time an early period “Hot Rod”. But, at least it did have a 32 grill shell.

      Like 0
      • KurtMember

        No, I was referring to the new listing. I was being grateful that it had a souped up Ford engine. I personally think a hotrodder should stick to the original brand of the car, I.e. Ford in Fords, etc.. That’s all. 😬And that’s why no Subaru or Porsche engine is ever going in any of my VDubs. Plus they cost too much.☺️

        Like 0
  8. TJohnson

    I like it! It might not be the exact way it was “back in the day”, whenever that was. Bottom line is that it’s an A roadster with a flatty, a Lincoln 3 speed, a very nicely done interior. And to top it off, it doesn’t have an insane price on it. You couldn’t built one for much less than $21k, if at all. Besides, I am sure everything that was updated makes it a much more enjoyable car to drive.

    Like 1
  9. Dave

    I read the sellers description and he’s more Honest Abe than George Washington. This is what it is, this is how I found it, this is what I did to it, this is what I recommend the next owner should do to it, this is how it runs and drives. Any buyer has what they need to make an informed decision.

    Like 1
  10. Camaro guy

    I like it, just needs a 32 grill

    Like 0
  11. Chevy Guy

    Hey Kurt, I fully agree with your comment about sticking to the original brand. It annoys the heck out of me when people put Chevy engines in Ford or the other way around or whatever. If you have a Ford, put in a Ford engine. If you have a Chevy, put in a Chevy!

    Like 1
    • KurtMember


      Like 1
    • ctmphrs

      The whole point of a Hot Rod is to improve the car. What better way to improve a Ford than putting a small block chevy in it.

      Like 0
  12. bobhess bobhessMember

    Camaro guy… It’s a Model A, not a ’32. It has a great grill.

    Like 0
  13. Dom Colucci

    Neat toy I like it just the way it is!!!

    Like 1
  14. John S

    O.K., it looks like the term “original” is the hang up here… it is a matter of perspective. The way I see it, the car ceased to be original “back in the day” when the first guy that changed something started to… well… change something.
    Maybe “original” refers to the fact that the body, frame & what not is not reproduction… but actual old stuff. As time goes by, each care taker does his version of fixitup, repair, improve, etc., and here’s what’s left. The car has a good look, nice stance, & decent proportions. If the next owner doesn’t like some of the things that were changed, it will not be a big deal to, again, change something.
    The price tag is a bit steep, but the car is worth exactly what someone will pay for it… perspective once again.

    Like 1

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