Old School Rod: 1928 Ford Model A

Personalization dates back to the earliest days of the motor car when buyers would specify coach-built bodies so that their vehicles would reflect their tastes or their unique needs. For most consumers, this was not a realistic option, but plenty of owners were willing to take a garden-variety car and turn it into something more to their liking. This thinking spawned the hot rod culture, and the result was cars like this 1928 Ford Model A. One glance is enough to confirm that this is not a standard vehicle, and there is plenty to unpack when we dig below the surface. It runs and drives and is ready to be enjoyed by a new owner. The Ford is located in Yerington, Nevada, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding sits at $17,001, but the reserve is yet to be met.

Following World War II, American manufacturers couldn’t build cars fast enough to satisfy the needs of hungry consumers who were starved of new models during hostilities. This left many young people with limited budgets unable to access or afford these new vehicles. Hence, an entire industry and culture grew up around taking older vehicles and modifying them to achieve improved performance. The result was personalized vehicles like this Model A. Bodies were stripped of those items that were deemed unnecessary, including bumpers and fenders. This not only helped improve performance by shedding weight, but it gave the vehicles a tougher and more aggressive appearance. This old Ford perfectly encapsulates that philosophy and its overall appearance is quite attractive. The steel in the body is all solid, and the panels are remarkably straight. There is no evidence of anything beyond some accumulated surface corrosion, while the frame is rust-free. The floors have been replaced, so there is no repair work that the buyer will need to tackle. The Black paint is said to be original and wears a wonderful aged appearance. The buyer might choose to treat the Ford to a repaint, but I would understand if they decided to leave it untouched. There is a new tinted windshield fitted to the Ford, and while there is a frame for a convertible top, it will need new material. The car rides on wire wheels that are in good condition, and the larger diameter tires on the rear give the car an attractive raked appearance.

Taking a peek inside the engine bay reveals the heart of what the hot rod culture is all about. This engine bay would originally have been home to a 201ci flathead 4-cylinder engine, producing 40hp. That might have been okay for mum and dad, but it didn’t cut the mustard with junior. Slotting something with more power under the hood was the answer, and the venerable Ford flathead V8 was usually the engine of choice. In this case, we find the 239ci version, which would have brought at least 100hp to the table. This V8 is backed by a 3-speed top-loader manual transmission, with a narrowed ’42 Ford banjo rear end directing the power to the road. This engine’s history isn’t clear, but a tag attached to the cylinder block reveals that it was treated to a rebuild at some point by a company called Dura-Built in Los Angeles, California. The Ford had been sitting for many years, but the owner has revived it. I can see a new aluminum radiator, while there is also a new water pump and a completely new brake system from the master cylinder right through to lines, wheel cylinders, and brake shoes. Oil pressure is good in the flathead, but the owner says that the engine is a little smokey. This has improved over time, so a bit more use might allow components like piston rings to settle in. That means that the buyer might be able to avoid the expense of a rebuild.

The interior of the Model A is pretty bare-bones, but everything works as it should. The seat has been reupholstered using a new cover and memory foam. It presents nicely and represents the only upholstery at present. The dash features the original gauge cluster, along with a neat set of aftermarket items hanging below. Apart from these and a 1940 Ford wheel, there isn’t a lot to see. This part of the car is a blank canvas and represents an excellent opportunity for the buyer to personalize it. It would be tempting to “go to town” on the interior, but I’m not sure that this would be the best approach in this case. I would be tempted to add a set of door trims to match the seat, fit a rubber mat on the floor, and leave the rest untouched. If the exterior is going to retain its current character, that will allow the interior to compliment it. If the buyer is going to treat the exterior to a repaint, then the option is there to create something special with the interior. It all comes down to a matter of personal taste and preference.

One of the great attractions with traditional old-school hot rods is that they were built in an era when there were no rules. The people that created these custom classics generally didn’t have a lot of spare cash to splash on their creation. Necessity became the mother of invention, and you have to admire those people for creating something special out of something that would have been relatively mundane. As time passed, the design and engineering of hot rods has become ever more refined, with flawless paint and unique interiors now part-and-parcel of the scene. This 1928 Model A takes the culture back to its very roots, and if the next owner chooses to leave it largely untouched, I don’t think that I would blame them. It has bags of character, and while a competent builder might be able to simulate that look, there’s nothing quite like the real thing.

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Comments

  1. KEVIN

    “Clear Nevada Title in my name” This in my view is a huge plus

    Like 5
  2. matt

    I want this car. How? Do you fabricate the lie to tell your bride that – – Yeah, I know I’m old, but I really need just this one more car to keep the other two and the motor scooter company… And, I won’t buy any more until the next one -Honest…

    Like 13
    • Mike

      Lol!!!!! I hope that excuse works because I want to use the same excuse!!!

      Like 2
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      The same logic here, which has resulted in a rather large rack of guitars.

      Like 1
    • Mvivori

      Haha, just do it. I replaced a Red/Tan 355 with a Red/Tan 360 and a short time later traded my 34 Sundancer for a 43 Sundancer thinking my wife wouldn’t know the difference. True story. Of course she divorced me. That’s ok though I replaced a 60 model with an 87 model. Haha. You only live once

      Like 1
  3. IkeyHeyman

    You’d be nuts to paint this, drive as-is and be too cool for school.

    Like 12
  4. JW454

    I’d have to ditch the electric fan but, I’d keep the rest as is.

    Like 1
    • David Conwill

      There’s a pretty neat how-to on the HAMB about using old desk-fan parts to make an electric-fan blend. I too am generally a bigger fan of mechanical fans (with a shroud, if possible), but they don’t always fit without considerable forethought during the build and removing one without a backup plan can cause a car like this to become pretty unpleasant in a lot of circumstances.

      Like 1
      • pt cheshire

        The issue with most cooling fans on the early /mid production flatties is they are driven directly off the generator OR off the crank pully on the front mount distributor versions. General solution back in the day, was to run sans a fan as odd as it seems.

  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Might consider keeping the fan if you plan on driving in today’s traffic. My ’32 with the ’48 Merc was great everywhere except traffic jams. Neat car here.

    Like 4
  6. HC

    Wow! What an homage to old school hot rod builds. Wouldnt change a thing!

    Like 9
  7. Murray shane

    Matt. Don t you know the saying….I have been using it for 37 years with my wife and it works great……..”it’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission “. Keep collecting. I always remind my bride of 37 years that I only chase cars, not other women. Anyways your wife just called me and told me to tell you to buy anything you want😀😀😀
    LOL. Good luck my friend

    Like 4
  8. tony t

    10-4 on electric fan .. keeping it … flatheads tend to (over)heat as the exhaust runs through the block and water jackets around the cylinders. Warm up pretty quickly, tho …

    Like 4
    • DavidL Member

      Echo that. My first car was a ’51 Ford w/ a flathead that overheated until it blew a hole in the pan 4×2 inches. Still drove it the rest of the way home. When I pulled the heads the crust buildup was incredible. Had no idea when I bought it ($125) that it would be that bad.

  9. Joe Haska

    Adam, Great write up on a very historically correct build of a model A roadster. I think your comments were dead on ,the only thing I would add is, that a new owner could ad his changes to the build, but this car is so well done, to represent a historical Hot Rod, a perfect TROG roadster. If a new owner changes it too much, it will become a completely different car and not represent the era it does now and I think it is perfect the way it is. But that’s hot Rodding you own it “Build It Your Way”.

    Like 3
  10. HC

    Roger on both keeping an auxilliary fan and trying to get a mechanical one going again. Dont trust only an electric fan.

  11. Tort Member

    Maybe put some interior door panels and some other basic things eventually but it comes as close to my tastes as it gets!

    Like 2
  12. MarveH

    For me the first rule for any old car is, do I want to drive it. In this case oh yes! The feeling of speed in an old hairy car that you have to fight a little and hang on a lot is where the fun is. Looks comes way further down the list.
    I’m not putting down the candy-apple-chrome guys, enjoy you’re thing, but another overdone hot rod with a Chevy 350 and hydromatic transmission seems to take the fun out of it.
    I’ll take an old school gow job every time.

    Like 8
  13. Richard Van Dyke Sr

    Always wanted a car like this but never had the pockets.

  14. DavidL Member

    Wouldn’t change a thing. Nothing.

    Like 1
  15. vintagehotrods

    Keep it just the way it is and drive yourself right back to 1947 in this time machine. You could try a mechanical fan mounted up high on the generator if you are in the right climate. If it overheats you can always put the modern electric fan back on and hide it with a hood if you need to.

    My favorite excuse for buying old cars was “It’s such a good deal I can make money on it when I sell it”, so now after 25 years and 12 old cars in my garages, my wife has caught on that I’m great at buying but not so good at selling! The last car I bought was an original restored ’37 Ford Cabriolet one day about a year ago. Mr friend Mike called one afternoon and said there was an estate sale near me that he heard about and the cars were selling fast. I told my wife I was just going to look! When we got there Mike bought a beautiful ’33 Ford Roadster and I got the Cabriolet. I thought I’d get killed when I got home and told her I just spent $30G’s on a car, but once I showed her the pics of it she liked it, (especially since it wasn’t a project but a running and driving car). I did say I’d sell a few projects but I haven’t gotten around to that yet!

    I love watching the old hot rod movies on YouTube. I’m watching “The Devil On Wheels” from 1947 right now. Some other good ones are “Hot Rod – The Feature Film 1950” and the “The Cool Hot Rod” from 1953.

    Like 1
  16. George W. Dugan

    The only thing I would do is get rid of the bench seats , put in the surplus bucket seats (air force surplus ?) with the tossed in padded cushions.

    Like 1
  17. Robert Hargis

    Perfect as is!!!

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