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Preserve or Restore? 1931 Ford Model A Pickup

It’s a 1931 Ford Model A pickup truck, and it’s here on eBay in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The honest what-you-see-is-what-you-get truck has been stored inside since 1975. The engine turns freely—with a wrench—and the ignition key is included. “Overall in pretty nice shape,” we’re told.

The owner can’t say “rust-free” because, in fact, it isn’t. The truck is covered just about everywhere with surface rust—maybe the garage was damp. The good news is that much of it appears superficial, and the body panels are intact. Aside from a missing instrument or two, it seems complete as well.

The owner is straightforward about the old truck’s needs: Both door windows, all the tires, including the spare, the headliner, and the seats. The rear bumper is missing, and there are “some rust areas on the back side of the cab.”

Restoring this truck and getting it ready to drive should not be too difficult, since so many were made and replacement parts are readily available. The owner has the choice of returning the old Ford to stock or making a hot rod out of it, though I would lean toward the former choice.

The Henry Ford Museum tells us that the pickup used the same 200-cubic-inch four-cylinder, 40-horsepower engine as the sedans and roadsters. It was available in 1928 with either an open or closed cab. The one on sale is the latter, but the open cab was cheaper, $395. The closed-cab version was $445. That year, Ford sold 62,000 of them.

By 1931, the year of this truck, Ford had become the solid pickup leader, with sales of 138,633 compared to Chevy’s 98,254. This was the result, despite Chevy’s technical innovation of an overhead-valve straight six. Of course, because of the Depression Ford’s pickup sales were down 30 percent from the previous year.

The Model A in 1931 could be had as a station wagon, a panel truck, a delivery wagon, and the pickup variants, with 38 colors available. It’s hard to tell what color this one originally was–black, maybe? In mid-year, circa May, Ford introduced the 78B version of the pickup with five more cubic feet of storage. The experts will have to tell us if this is one of those or even a fancy DeLuxe.

Would this truck make a good winter project? I think so, as long as the auction price doesn’t go too high. Right now it seems moderate.


  1. RKS

    That would make a sweet little street rod pickup. Small block/auto. Get the body straightened out. I’d like to find one in my area like this for the winter as my shoebox is almost done and I need to be in the garage lol.

    Like 4
    • BigDaddyBonz

      My neighbor has one with a 302 sbf and C4 auto. He’s been working on it for 20 years. Doesn’t need much to finish but I don’t know that it’ll ever get done. He recently bought a 64 Caliente hot rod to play with. Too bad, I would’ve loved to see the 31 pick up finished. It’s gonna be a nice truck for someone when it finally hits the road.

      Like 2
  2. Vegaman Dan

    Only original once. But there are a lot out there too. I’d be sorely tempted to clean it up, make road worthy, and drive it. Maybe let movie/TV show resource pool know about it. These services call out for period correct vehicles as needed and your ride could be what they need.

    Currently $6600.

    Like 14
  3. Derek

    That’s really nice; a good starting point. The surviving paint looks blue to me.

    I’d make it work and trundle around in it – with paint as required.

    Like 7
  4. harry allen

    Restore / Preserve is to me much the same just restore comes with added liberties. Those liberties would include the updating of safety areas but not making restorative changes as obvious as a Black Eye. Preserve should be the primary objective using restore as the tool to preserve. Hey visual pleasure is not excluded from preserve.

    Like 6
  5. Paul Miller

    I would be inclined to make it roadworthy, new tires brakes, etc. Maybe throw a basic interior in it. Find some way to stop the rust from getting worse but keep the current patina

    Like 13
  6. Chris Cornetto

    Someone stole the Walton’s truck from Waltons mountain…..

    Like 6
  7. WoodyBoater

    Call it Rusty and drive it. Dont even clean it. You will only drive it about 300 miles in 10 years anyway, and everyone will want to ask you about it and why its not restored and that is really what a conversation piece is about.

    Like 14
  8. Ashtray

    I would replace the missing parts, try to restore the headliner as close to original as possible, get it roadwothy, and paint it with a semi gloss (80%) paint and drive it.
    Just my opinion!

    Like 4
    • Ashtray

      I meant to say, paint it a semi gloss cleearcoat paint so the patina still shows.
      Just my opinion!

      Like 3
  9. Jane

    Totally Awesome !! I would make it safe to drive. It’s beautiful as is. Good Luck with it. THANK YOU FOR SHARING.

    Like 5
  10. Cadmanls Member

    Clean it up, maybe add a little to make it drivable in traffic. The A can get down the road quite well with a few mods. Few years back there was one running around Ft. Myers FL unrestored. Looked great and owner was pleased with his truck. Enjoy the ride!

    Like 7
  11. A guy

    I’d leave it original and fix it up and drive it. If you want to make a hot rod,buy a shell from a junkyard, since you are going to replace everything anyway. Why destroy this complete original survivor?

    Like 12
  12. Art

    Trucks did not have rear bumpers. Nice truck.

    Like 8
  13. Heck Dodson Member

    This one is too nice in its original condition to do any other modifications. Parts are so readily available to get her running and roadworthy again. Get her mechanicals done and enjoy driving to Ace hardware or local car shows. Good find

    Like 8
  14. Franko

    Lots of Model A pick ups out there but the likes of this must be getting thin. You can never go back to this charm, Chase the mice out and don’t forget “warm milk before going in the garage”. This will need to stay dry from now on, a little moisture will hurt it severely.

    Like 6
  15. David Goodlander

    Currently $9500, 14 bids.

    Like 1
  16. Mike T

    Leave it original. The Waltons truck was a 1929 Model AA 1 1/2 ton Express Body truck.

    Like 3
  17. bobhess bobhess Member

    My ’34 wound up staying in dark grey primer after it was totally restored. Seemed to compliment the truck. It had the stock flathead and running gear. Only thing done to it was a 4 inch dropped front axle, vinyl bed cover, and steel wheels. Looked good, was fun to drive, and drew attention wherever we went. Could do the same to this guy without taking away the unique features it has.

    Like 4
  18. Mark

    My personal belief is if it still retains its original wheels leave alone. Restore it, drive it plant flowers in it, but don’t modernize it. It’s gotten this far intact keep it stock.

    Like 1
  19. Heck Dodson Member

    Adding steel wheel rims may be a safer thing to do along with hopefully bringing these brakes back and working well again. Not sure if this 31 had cable brakes or not. Hydraulic brakes on Fords didn’t come out til mid or late 30s I believe, but sure someone will let us know.

    Like 1
    • Mike T

      Hydraulic brakes came out in 1939 on Ford trucks and in 1949 on Ford cars and pickups. I wouldn’t change the wheels as they appear to correct for the year.

      Like 0
      • Mike T

        Hydraulic brakes came out in 1939 on Ford trucks and in 1940 on Ford cars and pickups. I wouldn’t change the wheels as they appear to correct for the year.

        Like 1

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