Henry’s Lady: 1931 Ford Model A

With well over one hundred years worth of cars to choose from, the collector market tends to run in cycles.  I have heard that people tend to want what was popular when they were teenagers, and that theory seems to have some merit.  Just look at the current rise in prices for Japanese sports cars of the 1970s through the 1980s, and the increased popularity of Fox body Mustangs and third generation Camaros.  Compare that to what the government calls our “peak earning years,” and you have the makings for an argument.  The other side of that theory is what happens to the market for collector cars whose owners are getting into their golden years?  While I hope not, I believe this 1931 Ford Model A Town Sedan found in Douglasville, Georgia on craigslist for a $13,500 asking price may be a good car to discuss this theory with.

Model A Fords are beautiful cars.  Designed to look like a smaller version of the Lincoln luxury car at the time, they combine great looks with Henry Ford’s demand for reliability.  Model As were produced from 1928 through 1931, and almost five million were produced around the world.  Years later, the Model A became the backbone of the restoration industry, with thousands of them being restored and enjoyed by enthusiasts.  Their popularity as a restoration project was strongest from the sixties through the early eighties.  Sadly, many of these talented enthusiasts are no longer with us.

Recently, I spoke with a salesmen at an automotive restoration supply business.  He commented that Model A values have been plummeting.  It seems that when the cars pass on to heirs, they don’t have the desire to keep them in the family.  This is a sad state of affairs because we need new blood in the hobby, and the Model A Ford is a great first collectible car for an enthusiast for reasons such as reliability, parts availability, and that they are easy to work on.

While the ad doesn’t specifically state that the Model A pictured here is an estate car, my guess is that it probably is.  There is what appears to be a battery jump pack on the floor in the first picture, and the garage it is in doesn’t look like it has hosted any restorations lately.  Given that these cars usually have 6 volt electrical systems, I doubt whoever restored it would be using a modern 12 volt jump pack on his baby.  Whoever restored the car seems to have done an outstanding job.  While I am no Model A expert, I did stay at a Motel 6 last night, and can see that everything looks to be period correct for a Ford of that era.  The upholstery appears to be the correct material, and there are no gaudy add-ons spoiling the look of the car. The engine appears to have been pulled out and repainted, and was most likely rebuilt given the overall well restored look of this car as a whole.

A few years ago, this would be at least a $20,000 car all day long.  However, the number of people who want a Model A based on their youthful desires has shrunk, and the market has sadly followed.  While this is surely disconcerting to current Model A owners, those smart collectors who are looking for a fun car to go to cruise ins, parades, car shows, or who want to take a bucket list trip in an old car should be jumping for joy.  These are fantastic cars to teach you and your kids how to wrench on old cars, how to have fun with them, and the importance of preserving our past.

This car is begging for an attentive owner who will load up his family and head out on some neglected back road for a grand 1930s style adventure.  Are you and your clan ready to enjoy motoring the way Henry meant it to be?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. grant

    I love it. Someday, I’ll have one. The time (and the coast) isn’t right for this one. Beautiful car.

  2. jw454

    Jeff,
    I have to agree with you. The market for these will probably soften a bit more and then stabilize. They’ll always have some value but, I’m afraid their heyday has past. They would need a very popular movie featuring several of them to help them bounce back a bit in the market right now.

    This has always been one of my bucket list cars but, I’m closing in on that bucket faster than I’m searching for one of these gems. Looks like it’s not going to happen.

    This is a nice one though.

  3. TRP

    Oddly enough I just picked up a 1929 Ford Model A Tudor last week. I’ve been an aircooled VW and Porsche guy ever since I could drive a car. The Tudor just kind of followed me home. :)

    The one for sale here is quite nice. Well worth every penny.

  4. Dickie F.

    I have never driven one and I am not a Ford guy, but I have a soft spot for the stock Model A. I just have.

    Then there are others, like this BDA powered version:

    https://youtu.be/iFSGSL3Nrmc

    Whatever rows your boat….

  5. Rob

    My love for the Ford Model A was given to me by my grandfather. The last vehicle he restored before he passed was a 29 soft top pickup. I was able to take it for a drive shortly after I returned from AFG. Sadly he passed a short time later. Who gets to keep it has been a bad blood fued in the family. We all love it just as much as we loved him.

  6. Rich

    There’s WAY more than 13k into this car. Looks like a nice paint job was done and that engine is spotless. Worth every dime. Never expected these to plummet to these low prices.

  7. Duane

    TRP, I also picked up a 1929 Tudor last month, restored but needing some sorting out. I bought my 1st car, a ’30 5 window coupe when I was 14 years old and learned so much about engines, etc. from that car. Now, 55 years later my plan is to sell off the rest of my car collection and keep just the Model A. I figure that whatever value they have when the time comes for my widow to sell it, that the financial loss will be negligible.

  8. 86 Vette Convertible

    Now that one looks like it’s ready for parade duty just as it stands! I’d love to have it.

  9. Jay E.

    Speaking of parades, I had not been to one in some time. It seems my days are spent trying to make enough money to pay for my health insurance, which costs more than my house payment! (thanks ACA, not) But I digress. On the 4th I went to one I used to bring my Model T and my wife rode her horse in the color guard. This year there were 2 old cars and 5 horses! Thats it! 10 years ago there were dozens of each. Is everyone of my generation, and the younger ones too, struggling so that these hobbies are not possible anymore? No wonder cars like this languish.

    • Billy

      You are correct, disposable income for the old car hobby is dropping quickly, esp. for the younger generations. Every time I bring that up here, my posts get yanked, so best not do it again, huh? Use your own best judgement as to why that is. (BTW, Bernie Sanders has a one payer national health care plan in Congress right now that would lower our costs by less than half of what they are now with better out comes. Oops!) Also, I think parades themselves are going out of fashion. Many ideas as to why. Perhaps its the ridiculous cost of insurance for such things by municipalities, perhaps young people are too busy with other things to participate, who knows?

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I live near a small Village of about 1100 people. We have a great parade every 4th of July. Thankfully, I feel our parade is growing yearly. There were no Model A’s or T’s for the last two years because, well you know. Billy might be onto something a bought the cost of insurance on parades. We used to get a nice pack of trikes in the parade until the Village board deemed the occasional wheelie, which was always a big hit, decided it was to dangerous. Never an incident. Well there was that one with one of the little Shriner cars but they come back every year.

  10. justin

    My neighbor has one.. its a great car. we take it out on the town now and then

    • John Ferguson

      Very nice! From a Canadian buddy..,.,.,

  11. imperial1scott

    The problem nowadays is that guys will buy perfectly good old cars like this for a reasonable price then proceed to chop the top and rip the motor out and make a rod out of it.Then have about $25-$30 grand in an all steel Model A.Please whoever buys this keep it as is.I bought an original style restored 30 coupe last year and I’m keeping it as is.

  12. Hondo122

    My bachelor uncle bought an unrestored 30′ rumble seat coupe when l was 10, that car was the basis of my 60 year love of cars. I worked the car with him, his friend was a body man and all the bumps and wrinkle were repaired with lead, it was painted with 10 coats of black lacquer wet sanded between the last 4 coats. I went to the AACA show in Hershey where he won First place, two years later he won First in the Senior class, sorry for rambling Model A’s bring back many memories!

  13. Klharper

    These are great fun. I was introduced to model A’s by a guy I use to do work with and he had several and I would drive one of his in tours. They are great fun to drive because you are so involved, everything from a non syncromesh trans to adjusting the fuel and spark on the fly.
    I fell in love with the pickup he had, but in truth I am to big to drive it for very long. And while some purist will not like it my favorite is a well done speedster.
    A good use for a vehicle like this is a tour vehicle. There is a guy in New Bern NC that does tours of the town in his and it is not as nice as this one.

    On the subject of cars going up in value that we went to high school with I guess it is true overall but I went to high school in the mid eighties but my interest and collection is firmly rooted in the 60’s and if I was to add cars it would be older not newer cars, but then again I’m odd.

  14. Jerry & Nell Mathern

    The Model A Ford is so much fun on tours. We’ve driven ours from the Atlantic to the Pacific with no problems. Our club the Rogue Valley A’s in Southern Oregon enters most local parades and we our cars are like family. Photo of our pilot son who will inherit our 1930 Coupe.

  15. Dan B

    Yeah, the market is soft for these. We grew up with a 1930 closed-cab pickup. Fast forward 40 years, and I am the youngest guy in the local club by a few decades (and I am an old salt – into Model As and Willys Wagons). Sadly, I don’t see interest returning to these. Hopefully I’m wrong.

  16. waynard

    As an appraiser, I see a fair amount of these in all kinds of conditions. Mostly, now, from estates that want to sell them off. The wives (usually) nor the kids have very much interest in them. Prices are down for sure.

    They’re dangerously slow on an interstate unless there’s a whole pack of them with a leader and sweep cars. True, they are great fun on tours (so I’m told) and the (shrinking) ‘A’ community camaraderie is high; but they no longer have great value except for that. There are so many out there.

    A month ago I did an appraisal on a beautifully “restored” (resto-rod) ‘A’ Sedan that was accurate down to the finest detail except for the GM V6 and automatic trans installed, new chrome wire wheels, and with suspension and brake upgrades. Looked great, started right up and ran at highway speeds all day.

    This is what is selling and will hold a higher overall value, because it’s useable. And that’s a lot more fun and, in my opinion, a better investment.

  17. Wrong Way

    Good job! I loved the motel 6 comment! Gave me a great laugh but had to start reading all over again!

  18. TouringFordor

    I still have the 31 Deluxe Roadster that my uncle bought new. I asked him why he never sold it. He said, “Because it never broke.” They are a blast on back roads. No radio, and going slow enough to actually see things. We’ve taken many round trips of over 1,000 miles in ours. The best was US 50 from Cincinnati to eastern VA in the fall. The mountains of W VA were gorgeous, and the long stroke 4 would chug up the hills in 3rd gear.

  19. Daytongarmin

    When the choice is between our P90DL Tesla and our late (June) of 31 Ford Coupe the Model A always wins. So much fun.

  20. Seth

    Yup – would like one in my fleet.

  21. Jimmy Gee

    I was born in 1929 and the Model “A” was always popular throughout my early years, but of the hundreds of them I have seen, this is the first to be sporting wood wheels. They look strange to me.

    • Dickie F

      Hi Jimmy, If you are refering to the photo I uploaded with the “wooden wheels” I apologize – these are not original.
      These were manufactured as part of the restomod when the car was converted to Ford BDA/Cosworth power.
      For more on the rather interesting upgrade, please see:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFOpsmor6u8

  22. Tony L

    I should have my second garage built in about a year and a half and one of the first cars that I will put in it will likely be one of these wonderful Ford A’s. For now, no room for another nice car.

  23. Brian F

    I have been exchanging messages with the seller. I am based in southern California and cannot go over there to see it in person. Thus, he has added more pictures to the Craigslist ad.

    I did find out that the car is not running at the moment. It was placed in long term storage about 8 years ago. They prepared it for storage (properly from what it sounds like). So, the cylinders need to be drained of the oil protection the rings from seizing, fluid flushes, tuning/cleaning, etc. before attempting to get it running.

    Seller indicated PO had engine/trans seals and water pump replaced. After 8-years of storage, they might need to be redone or at least carefully watched.

    At this point, I think $13.5K may be high for a non-running Model A which will cost me quite a bit to transport across the country. Plus, I should divest myself of some of the other cars I own before adding one. Lastly, I am new to the Model A world (not to cars, car restoration, etc.). I am doing a lot of research on parts availability and assistance based here in southern California if I do decide to buy it and have it brought here.

    • waynard

      Brian F, it’s my opinion that at $13,500 you are paying more than top dollar for a non-running ‘A’. Plus you have to ship it to wherever and then go over all the mechanicals and put money into that refurbishment. Why don’t you try to find something more local? Hemmings is an excellent source and there are others.

  24. Doug Smit

    You want to turn heads and get people waving at you? Drive this car down the street! Hit the ahowga horn and watch them go wild. Everybody knows and loves A Model’s. This is a spitting image of the one that I got from my Dad after his death. There isn’t a part you can can’t buy for one of these and it will start every time no matter how long it sits. While the 30 mph to speed can be prohibited for commutes and rally’s, period correct modification are available.

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