Still On The Road: 1930 Ford Model A Roadster

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Restoration is a word that has different meanings for different people.  Some people consider getting a car back on the road as a restoration.  Others feel that a full restoration means a completely rebuilt and refinished vehicle with new old stock parts.  If you are wanting to get into an open car somewhere in the middle for the asking price of $10,000, then take a look at this 1930 Ford Model A roadster for sale on craigslist in Little Compton, Rhode Island.  While some repairs have been done on this running and driving Model A, there are a few items that might be called into question by a prospective buyer.

First off, a Model A is a great choice for a first restoration.  Two major clubs, the Model A Ford Club of America and the Model A Restorers Club provide a tremendous amount of support for owners.  Both clubs provide decades of information to assist you in your restoration, a network of local clubs filled with experts on these cars, and they also stress family involvement in the hobby.  Numerous books have also been written about the Model A.  From detailed accounts of production changes to restoration guides, these books leave no stone unturned.

This Model A has that never restored patina to it.  However, the seller has removed the body to perform repairs on the frame.  In the ad, it says “cross channels and new subframe parts welded in.”  While it would be nice to see photos or have a more detailed description of the whats and whys of these repairs, we once again wander through a barren field of information.

The seller tells us that the body needs to be sanded down and repainted.  Why this was not done when the body was pulled off the frame is not discussed.  We are also told that all of the top irons are there, but a top will be needed.  Add to the needs list an interior, door panels, and new coverings for the rumble seat cushions.

Above is a picture of a rust repair at the bottom of the cowl.  It looks like a patch panel was welded in, but there is a slope from the front to the back of the weld.  There obviously needs to be some finishing work done here before primer and paint is applied.

On the good news side, the wood pieces in the top assembly are still useable.  The exhaust system and tires are also listed as “good.”  The seller tells us that the car does not smoke, the cooling system is good, and it can roll down the road at 45-50 MPH all day.

In the picture above we can see one of the questionable repairs done to the car.  The material used looks like slabs of particle board with homeowner store material borders.  While functional, this is not the correct way to do things.  Mike’s Affordable lists birch plywood floorboards for this car at a reasonable $60 plus shipping.  With today’s lumber prices, that is a bargain.

Under the hood is an engine we are told has been remanufactured and has less than 5,000 miles.  While it is kind of rough in appearance for an engine that has gone through this process, as engines are usually repainted, at least Model A engines are simple in nature.  The only “lost art” would be the Babbit bearings.  Babbit is a metal alloy used to create a bearing surface.  While we live in a world that is dominated by roller bearings, there are still a few folks out there that pour these bearings for such applications.

A wise man once told me that an item I was looking at was overpriced at the time, but sooner or later the price would be considered reasonable.  This Model A’s asking price may be top of the mark currently.  However, Model A prices are on the incline, and open cars are always desirable.  An in person inspection would be in order here.  Once a prospective buyer looks at the car in person, this may be a situation where cash talks.

Have any of you ever restored a Model A?  If so, were there any difficult points in your restoration?

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Comments

  1. Cam W.

    When I was about 12 years old, a neighbour began restoring a basket-case Model A roadster. I was fascinated with the old car, and checked on progress frequently on my way home from school. My neighbour, Bert, invited me in to his garage, and patiently answered my questions about the car, and what he was doing to restore it. As time went on, I began helping Bert with the car, cleaning parts, and fetching tools. The car was eventually finished, in blue with black fenders, and it looked great with leather interior and rumble seat. Bert was retired, and actually drove the Model A regularly on errands in good weather. I tagged along whenever I could. The car drew smiles and waves, and Bert often responded sounding the “Aoooogah” horn.
    Bert was a true car-guy, and motorcycle-guy too. He had a well-known collection of early Harley, Henderson, and Indian motorcycles. He had old semi-trailers full of NOS parts squirrelled away at various locations throughout the city.
    Bert loved hunting barn-find cars and bikes, and soon got me involved (and hooked). Over the years, we travelled hundreds of miles together hunting cars, bikes , and parts. Bert always had a build going in his garage. Some he kept, some he sold, and some he donated to museums.
    Bert passed away in his late 80s about 30 years ago, and I still think of him, and smile every time I see a Model A roadster.

    Like 31
    • Cj

      I was hoping that story would end with Bert leaving you a car in his will!

      Like 10
      • Steve RM

        I was just hoping it would end.

        Like 2
    • Kelly Breen

      Great story!
      Respect to your late friend and you as well.

      Like 5
  2. bobhess bobhessMember

    My time with Model As as a kid was helping friends build hot rods out of them. Sturdy, basic cars that draw smiles from everyone. On the babbit bearings, there are machine shops all over the country with the knowledge to bore the blocks to install standard two piece bearings. It does wonders for an engine that’s used a lot. I vote for bearing upgrade, paint and interior and hitting the road as often as possible.

    Like 12
  3. The Other Chris

    My grandfather restored about a half dozen Model A’s in the ’60s through ’80s. He’s one of the main reasons I love cars today. I will never forget him showing me what he was doing and letting me “help” occasionally. But mostly I enjoyed the rides through town.

    I’d love to have a Model A some day. But more importantly, I think I will contact those clubs and see if they happen to have any info on him. I understand he was fairly well known at the time.

    Like 0
  4. PaulB

    I agree with @bobhess. I’d never restore a car like this that’s been on the road so long and still runs. Correct the floorboards, work over the bearings whenever the engine finally needs rebuilding, do any other repairs for safe operation, and enjoy.
    New paint? No way! Only where there’s bare new metal to prevent rust.

    Like 0
  5. The Other Chris

    Hmm, my comment is gone :( I thought it was a nice comment!

    Like 0
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse MortensenStaff

      @The Other Chris – Your comment was fine. Our system just holds comments from first-time commenters until they can be moderated. Thanks!

      Like 1
      • The Other Chris

        Ah, cool, thanks!

        Like 0
  6. Gray Wolf

    My dad bought one for me from my high school auto shop teacher in 1963! It was a great car for us to work on. It really took off for dad, mom and myself, swap meets, car shows, etc. We acquired more ‘A’ parts and cars. It wasn’t unusual to see 2-6 A’s in our driveway on the weekend. We had the parts, mechanical skills and most important, mom on the grill making here famous burgers. As she said, the “boys gotta eat”! What great times and parents! Started with just a car, then a great childhood!! MISS IT!

    Like 7

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