Good Bones: 1931 Ford Roadster

One of the things my grandfather told me about buying antique cars was to pay the money and buy the most rust free example you can buy.  He had little patience for rust and would never think of purchasing a car that might need something as drastic as a floor pan replacement.  While he would pass up many of the cars we see on Barn Finds, I think he would go out of his way to take a close look at this 1931 Ford Model A roadster for sale here on eBay.  Currently located in Arroyo Grande, California, the current owner of this car can trace its history from when it was bought from the original owner in the 1950s.  This solid Model A  is currently bid to $15,000 with the reserve not yet being met.  Is such a solid car worth a premium price?

According to the seller, this Model A has just 50,000 original miles on it and has been sitting since 1996.  It even has a service sticker in the door from the 1970s that documents just 42,000 miles on the car at that time.  The seller believes that the paint is mostly original with some touching up here and there. There are no patch panels or other spots of rust to be found.

When pulled out of storage, the car was cleaned up and had the expected maintenance done to get it fired back up.  It did just that after a rebuilding of the aftermarket Mallory distributor.  According to the seller, all of the major components such as the brakes, kingpins, and steering are tight and fully functional.  The car has also recently been driven at speeds up to 50 MPH.

One negative we can see from the pictures is that the stitching on the canvas top is coming loose.  The red wheels that came with the car have been replaced with black painted ones as well.  They will be included with the sale along with a replacement windshield that was found in the garage the car was retrieved from.  The seller also reports that the chromed frame for the windshield has seen better days.  Perhaps a new windshield also means that a windshield frame is included as well.

Inside we see that an additional set of gauges has been added.  These extra gauges measure oil pressure and water temperature.  Unfortunately, the oil pressure gauge is not hooked up and the water temperature gauge does not work.  Other than that, the rest of the dash area looks to be in good condition.  There are no problems with the instrument panel or the large rubber steering wheel.

As far as the upholstery goes, it is reported to be rip and blemish free.  The seller is unaware of how old it might be, but the vinyl still looks pretty good.  Given the condition of the convertible top, it would be fair to assume that the stitching in the upholstery might start coming apart as well if the car is used frequently by the new owner.  It is also noted that the side curtains and their leather case are still with the car and in good condition.

Things look a bit dingier under the hood.  However, nothing other than the aftermarket distributor and the plastic fuel filter hanging ever so close to the occasionally warm exhaust manifold looks out of place for a potentially unrestored car of this age.  The fuel filter hints that there might be some sediment buildup in the gas tank.  On Model A Fords, the upper cowl is essentially the gas tank.  It was designed this way because Henry Ford insisted on gravity feed for the fuel to eliminate the need for a fuel pump.  Some states banned Model A Fords from being sold until representatives from the Ford Motor Company helped the reluctant politicians see the error of their ways.  At any rate, the seller says that the engine runs very well and the car is quite drivable.

Obviously, this is a very solid and desirable Model A.  The current bid is about on par with what you could buy one with an older restoration for.  This car should clean up nicely, and provide its new owner with a lot of fun motoring once any problems from sitting for so long are ironed out.  Not every car needs to be perfectly restored. Do you think a solid car like this is worth the extra money?


  1. OhU8one2

    Why YES it should be worth more money. They are only original once, and I myself would pay more for an original car than a restored one. As for this Model A, it looks to be a DeLuxe model. With the dual side mount spares, rumble seat and trunk deck. Give it a gentle polish and interior detail. And make it mechanically sound. Then go drive it around your town or city. You’ll make alot of new friends quickly.

    Like 6
  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    What’s not to love about a Model A with a drop top? Fix what needs to be fixed and leave the rest alone. There’s enough fiberglass bodies and replacement frames for anyone wanting to hot rod one of these. Leave it alone for the future to appreciate. There are plenty of antique car runs out there to enjoy the heck out of it, as well as plenty of parades and runs to the ice cream store with the grandkids.
    My 2 cents.

    Like 5
  3. Butchb

    Dad had one of these restored in the 1970’s and I loved riding in the rumble seat. He later sold it to pay for a swimming pool my step-mother wanted. I never did think much of that swimming pool but sure did miss the car.
    I’d love to buy this one and drive it from Arroyo Grande (Big Wash) CA to Phoenix.

    Like 3
    • Carl

      My earliest memories include the 28 Model A Ford that my Dad and Mom had as a “family” car. Mid thirties as best as I can calculate. Strong rebuilt engine. Much patched canvass top. Traded in over Mom’s objections for a 31 Hupmobie 4 door!!

      Decades later, pal Roy and I bought and altered a 29 sport coupe. Ragged and more than well worn, but ran well. Sixty bucks !! Our alterations, a story for another day.

      More than a ball to drive !!!!


  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    Nice unit. It needs a good cleaning but it should give someone a lot of good miles. I don’t know anyone who has a Model A who doesn’t enjoy the heck out of it. The Model A is in a class all by itself…

    Like 6
  5. TimM

    Model A is the quintessential hot rod but a car this nice should be preserved for the next generation!! I honestly have never seen the canvas side windows on one of these cars!! If those are original from Ford it gives this car a whole new level of cool!!!

    Like 7
  6. Kurt Member

    Please leave it as is, but don’t try to drive it on the freeway! Actually, there might be vintage performance add ons to push up the top speed.

    Like 3
  7. Richard Love

    The oil pressure gauge hints at an engine with a pressurized oil system. Maybe a B engine or insert bearings. The original spash system had about 2 pounds of pressure.

    Like 1
  8. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    You can buy Model A’s in N. E. Texas for under $10k. A friend of mine has a model a pickup roadster for $7500. I like model A’s but I think this one is a little over priced.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  9. Joe Haska

    What about the 34 with DeSoto bumbers in the e-bay ad. I agree there are cheaper Model A’s, but also you get what you pay for!

  10. Stephen Stevens

    There are so many of these cars that we’re hotrodded and butchered up!! There are few left in original unmolested condition!! Leave it as it is and enjoy it!!!

    Like 2
  11. Blake Jones

    This Model A belonged to my grandfather. Does anyone know anything about its current location? Thanks!

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