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Perfect Family Project: 1928 Ford Model A Roadster

There is nothing that strengthens the bonds like a parent-and-child restoration project. It allows two (or more) people to work together towards a common goal, and the end result can be a car that provides all parties with years of satisfaction and enjoyment. This 1928 Ford Model A Roadster could be just such a car. It runs and drives well, and now needs someone to return it to its very best once again. It is located in Vancouver, Washington, and has been listed for sale here on craigslist. You can add the Roadster to your workshop by handing its current owner $10,500. I do have to say thank you to Barn Finder Ikey H for spotting this classic for us.

When you look at this Ford, it’s pretty obvious that it has worn at least three different colors during its lifetime. The Black definitely isn’t original, but it is impossible to determine whether the Duchess Blue or Niagara Blue is the shade that was finished in originally. Although if I had to choose, I would say that the latter color would probably be it. Either shade would result in an attractive vehicle, and if the existing paint was all stripped away to reveal the original steel, it easily could be once again. There is minimal rust in the floors that could potentially be addressed with patches, with the rest of the car appearing to be very solid. The original top is long gone, but the original roof bows have been sandblasted and epoxy primed. Also included are a new set of wooden bows, which should help things along. The wheels are looking quite corroded, so I would be very inclined to pack them off to a specialist to have them thoroughly checked and restored. There’s nothing that would grab your attention quite like one of those wire wheels failing while you are trundling along the road at 40mph. That’s one failure that I, and I’m sure that you would agree on this, would not want to experience.

Mechanically, the Ford seems to be full of good news. The car features the normal 201ci flathead 4-cylinder engine, along with the 3-speed manual transmission. It had been sitting for the best part of 30-years, but it has now been revived. The owner believes that the engine was rebuilt at some point, and even after sitting for decades, it fired into life with little effort. However, it now has a new clutch, a leakless water pump, along with a reproduction radiator. With that work completed, the owner says that the Model A now starts, runs, and drives really well. The engine does have that fairy common minor oil leak from the rear main seal. This could pose a quandary for the next owner. The engine looks really clean, and in itself, it wants for nothing. Replacing the leaking seal could potentially be completed with the engine in situ. My thinking is that with the paint in the engine bay looking so ratty, would it be more appropriate to pull the engine completely? That way the leaking seal could be replaced and the engine could be detailed to a high standard. The engine bay could also be stripped and resprayed at the same time. The result could be something close to perfection when finished. So, what would you do?

The Model A, while representing a major advancement over the outgoing Model T, was still not what most people would consider being a luxury car. With this in mind, the interior trim is quite basic, but fully restored, they can still present very nicely. The seat upholstery here isn’t original, with the owner purchasing it at a swap meet. I can’t say that it thrills me at all, so I would probably retrim the interior as a part of the restoration project. Where this car really scores for me is that it is a Roadster with a rumble seat. Now, if you have young children and decided to buy and restore this classic, the vast majority of them would be pretty excited about going for a spin sitting in a rumble seat. Actually, the kids don’t have to be little. I’ve been lucky enough to drive some pretty amazing cars throughout my life, but I am yet to tick “riding in a rumble seat” off my bucket list. I’m probably too old to do that now with any form of style or dignity, but someone once said that there is nothing wrong with growing old disgracefully!

One of the worst things that an individual can do, especially if they are either considering taking on a parent-and-child or a first project, is to choose a vehicle that is too complex or prohibitively expensive to work on. The potential costs and frustrations can soon sour what was intended to be an enjoyable and relaxing experience. I won’t say that restored Ford Model A Roadsters are a rare car because they quite simply aren’t. However, it is that very commonality that makes them such a strong restoration candidate for families or first-timers. It doesn’t matter what aspect of the project that the next owner chooses to tackle, they can be guaranteed that there will be plenty of people out there who have trodden that path before, and will be willing to help them avoid the pitfalls that could potentially lay ahead. That makes this a project car that could be well worth inspecting.


  1. On and On On and On Member

    Seems pricey for a car that needs a lot, I think for that dough you could get a better example. True that it is a great starter project car, being common and parts availability. BTW, check out the exhaust manifold, if I’m not wrong it’s a manifold heater type. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it was a common ad-on.

    Like 7
  2. RedBaran

    Aaaaand – it’s gone!

    Like 1
  3. David P. Reeves

    I’ve always wanted to put a Pinto 4 2.3 and 4 speed into one of these. Sacrilege, I know, but I think the upgrade would be beneficial in driving more places and more often. I’d never do it to a car with a numbers matching engine or one that has a period correct engine either, like this one does. Any gentle restomod Model A stories/

    Like 2
    • David Frank

      The sound of the engine and the way it drives are what make driving a Model A so great. Otherwise, why not just enjoy drive a pinto?

      Like 5
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      You could by a Shay……they were sold thru Ford dealerships.

      Like 2
      • David P. Reeves

        Good point!

  4. Mike

    That is a manifold heater but you will still be cold. I had to retard the spark to get any heat out of mine. Also that is not a 1928 steering wheel. They were red. The fan blade is not right and I can’t see the other side of the engine to see if it has the correct generator. The price is really too high for a car in this condition.

    1929 AA OWNER

    Like 3
    • Michael Carlson

      I have only had my 28 roadster since 2015 so I am not sure about the steering wheel. Mine is black. I also had the heater but the old guy who worked on my car talked me out of my heater. Even though it was not a good working heater I wish I had not let it go. I am trying to keep my car as original as I can. Its price is high. I paid $16,000 for mine but I believe I could have got a better deal elsewhere, but I fell in love with the car I bought. Wish I had someone near me in Welcome, NC to help me with some car tinkering. I am 74 and just can’t do all that I want.

  5. oldsoldie

    The guy across the road from us had just finished dropping a 56 Olds 324 into a 34 Chevy rumble seat coupe and was off to impress some girl by tearing up and down her street with it. For some reason he decided that my older sister and I should be in the rumble seat. I was about 7 when I went on that wild ride and will never forget it. I’m sure it’s one of the reasons I love my old cars so much some 66 years later.

    Like 1
  6. Joe Haska

    I have had a 34 Ford Coupe forever (56+years) and it has a rumble seat, I still cringe when I think about it. When our kids were growing up we would throw them in the back and tell them to sit down, hang on and shut up. In todays world the rumble seat cushins ,aren’t even in the car. Talk about un-safe at any speed, I am just thankful I never had an accident ,when the kids were back there, no seat belts, no air bag ,no padded dash, just a big hunk of steel to smash your head into. My rule is never , never , ever let anyone in the rumble seat. Exception maybe a parade ,maybe?

    Like 2
    • Marshall

      I believe that’s why Rumbleseat cars are not made anymore. Just too dang dangerous!

  7. Eigil

    These would have been the times to be alive.. Consider the differences.

  8. Bob Mck Member

    Really nice starter car. Would make a perfect show car with a ton of work. Just too much money for what you are getting. Hold on, with the economy crashing, you will be able to buy a finished one for this price.

    Like 1
  9. Kenn

    The rear seal can be replaced with the engine in the car. There is actually a tool to enable the job.

  10. Mike

    There is no rear seal. The oil was caught in the back of the rear main bearing and returned to the oil pan. It was expected that some would escape and drip down into the bottom of the flywheel housing and drain out. There was a large cotter pin in the bottom hole that rattled around and kept it open.

  11. RC

    I learned to drive in a 1931 Model A. Later I became a professional driver and retired with 41 years experience. A Model A is a very easy car to drive. You do everything yourself. Nothing is automatic so if you can drive an A you can drive anything.

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