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Love Is Blind: 1930 Ford Blind Back

It is hard not to fall in love with Model A Fords.  Every model, from the two door sedans to the phaetons, are well proportioned, attractive, and as American as flappers and Prohibition.  For car lovers, they represent one of the cheapest and easiest ways to put a prewar car in your garage.  So, it saddens me to see so many Model As being sold lately that need costly work or restoration to bring them back into good shape.  Prices have fallen, and the costs of restoration have only gone up.  Despite all of this, we still see cars being offered at asking prices that will be difficult to achieve.  One of our readers, Bill Walters, has graciously let us know about this 1930 Model A Ford in Wildwood, New Jersey.  While the car is a desirable blind back four door sedan, the asking price in the Craigslist ad is $11,000.  The question is not whether the car is worth that.  The question is whether or not someone will pay that.

“Blind Back” is a term used to describe a particular Model A body built by the Briggs Manufacturing Company of Detroit, Michigan.  They were the builders of many different auto parts up to and including bodies for many manufacturers.  Built from 1929-1931, this particular body style is liked by collectors because of its beautiful, more formal design.  By eliminating the side windows, it also made the car more difficult to see out of.  At any rate, it is a more upscale body choice for the Model A collector, and they are not that common to see today.

As you can see from the pictures, this car is a work in progress.  The seller says that the car has received new tires, brakes, a clutch, some upholstery, and a new radiator.  The picture above shows the wiring harness that has also been purchased, but not installed completely.  For the most part, the door pillars, floor, and various bits and pieces look to be in good shape.  The only exception that I see is the panel below the windshield and above the dash.  There is pitting on the left side that has been painted over.  While this may be a used part that was purchased as a replacement, rust pitting usually means extended exposure to the elements.  Not a disqualifier, but a good reason to go searching a bit more for issues.

The second interior picture shows what looks to be a new leather seat cover.  As stated in previous Model A write ups, the interiors for these cars are not cheap to replace.  For a low priced car, the materials used were pretty first rate.  My guess is that the interior purchases were going to be “one piece at a time” until the seller decided to throw in the towel.  Another interesting feature is the odd pull knob attached to the right side of the dash.  My guess is that this is attached to the carburetor, but I would love to have some reader input to clarify the what and why here.

The third interior picture gives us another look at the biggest problem with this Model A.  Upholstering this car will be financially difficult and the installation will likely require a professional auto upholsterer that has worked on a car like this before.  LeBaron Bonney is the go to company for antique automobile interiors, and they have a network of affiliated installers that could help the new owner get this project handled.  A quick look at the costs of a kit for this car are frightening.  You will spend around $3500 for the kit alone, with installation extra.  They do usually offer a 20% discount around Cyber Monday, so strategic ordering may be in order.

Under the hood, things tend to be a bit rosier.  The seller photographed the engine as it was running to back up the claim that the car runs and drives well.  Of course, runs and drives well can be open to interpretation.  My guess is that it drives as well as could be expected for a car that has not had a full restoration.  You can spend a lot on a Model A engine, from balancing to replacing the Babbitt poured bearings with more modern insert bearings.  One of the neatest add-ons is an overdrive form Mitchell manufacturing.  These allow you to drive at highway speeds (not always a good idea), and they reduce the amount of revolutions the engine has to make for a given speed.

If you had a bottomless budget, this car could be made into an amazing vehicle to go on tours in.  The styling is great, there is plenty of room for family or luggage, and spending the money to put the interior back in order would give you a soft and luxurious place to watch the world go by.  The seller says that his price is negotiable, and it will probably have to be to find a home for this Model A.  Once again, a restoration would put you upside down in a hurry.  This solid, running car deserves a restoration.  However, is there anyone left out there that will spend the kind of money required when there are restored cars ready to drive for far less than what can be spent on this one?

Comments

  1. On and On On and On Member

    The ‘pull’ knob is actually an adjuster for the high speed carb jet. I always thought it was kind of cool to be able to get up to highway speed, 40-45 on these cars then dial in the sweet spot and cruise along.

    • House of Hotrods

      This is correct, but in stock form, or at least when using a stock Zenith or Tillotson carburetor it’s also your choke. Quite a multi function item – and add that to spark advance and throttle on the column it can seem daunting, though these are fun cars to drive. Put a T5 transmission in one and it’s a whole different car. Likely one of the best bangs for the buck you’ll find in the collector car arena.

  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    Like On and On says, the knob to the right of the dash is the fuel mixture control. It’s also a dual purpose; if you pull it out, it closes the choke. Nice car to get as an on-going project. I know a couple of guys who bought similar projects and eventually completed the full restoration. The interior was the killer and they did theirs one seat at a time.

    Like what’s been said time and time again, you could probably buy one already fixed up for less than what it would cost to take this one completely through to a full restoration but for some it’s the journey. Working with your hands and being able to say that you restored that car yourself. Look at the stuff in my collection and most of you would say that I need to be stuck in a rubber room but I love tinkering and hope to be able to devote more time to my treasures in the future…

  3. carsofchaos

    wow only 3 comments, I still really like these cars but it definitely seems as if interest in the Model A cars is waning. That being said $11K seems a bit high on this one, especially given the interest.

  4. Allen Member

    “Choke” or “Fuel Mixture Control” are archaic terms now replaced with “anti-theft device”!😀

  5. sign guy

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how that rear suicide door opens without hitting the fender.

    • P T Cheshire

      External hinges and crowned rear fenders make everything clear.

  6. David Church

    Folks have the wrong idea about this car. Yes, everyone has an interest in ‘current market values’. But that has nothing to do with this car’s future. I see a very solid foundation. A foundation for whatever the next owner wants this Model A to be. It’s not over priced simply because the market is low. The “Market” has its head up it’s ass. Eventually, it will come to its senses and the buyer of this car will have the last laugh. Personally, I would take this Model A and build it out to be “The Hot Rod Lincoln.” Originally in the song, that car had “a V-12 Lincoln motor that was really souped up, and that Model A body really made it look like a pup!”

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