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Restore or Hot Rod? 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

As anyone who has played around with restoring a car knows, the devil is in the details.  It is the little things in a restoration that will inevitably be hard to replace and/or return to new condition.  Think of that as you look at the pictures of this 1929 Ford Model A cabriolet for sale on eBay in Fairmont, West Virginia.  While the major body panels and drivetrain are present, there are a lot of smaller parts that are nowhere to be seen.  Does the $6,500 buy it now price make a restoration financially make sense?  Or does the fact that the car has already been bid up to $5,600 with 24 bids reflect this car’s future as a hot rod?

For those of you who are fans of the Model A Ford, you may have noticed that prices have stabilized for driver level cars at around $10,000.  Open and rare cars can bring more, but you can get into a pretty good car for that price if you look hard enough.  It seems that many of the younger generation have fallen for Henry’s lady.  That is understandable, because their great styling, simple mechanicals, and overall appeal is universal.  They have always been a car that people desire.

So, if you wanted to get into an open Model A on the cheap, would this car be a good project?  In my opinion, you would be upside down pretty quick.  The seller tells us that the car was pulled from inside storage, and that it had been there a very long time.  With the knowledge that restoring a Model A was very popular in the car world in the sixties and seventies, this has all the hallmarks of a stalled restoration.  A number of smaller parts have been pulled off the car, and the restorer was likely in the process of removing the paint when it all came to a stop.

The ad makes no mention of the missing pieces.  It would definitely be worth asking, but they are likely in as rough a shape as the car itself.  A quick look through a Model A parts supplier’s catalog would tell you that replacing these parts with aftermarket pieces would quickly add up.  You could scour eBay, swap meets, and the Ford Barn for used parts if you are patient and diligent.  Finishing it out with used parts could help in transforming the car into a Race of Gentlemen candidate.

It would probably help potential buyers more if there were more photos.  Above is the only picture we have of the interior.  We don’t even know if the seat springs are still there.  Much of the floor that you don’t see is wood, so replacing it is not a big deal.  The amount of grime and built up sludge on the transmission gives us a clue that this car saw a lot of road miles.  Parts are available for these transmissions, and I would expect to spend money in this area.

There is also no word on the condition of the engine.  We have no idea if it is froze up or not.  Once again, parts are available and used engines in good condition are not hard to find.  A rebuild just wouldn’t make financial sense unless you decided to charitably dedicate your labors to paying machine shops and parts suppliers for quite a while.

My guess is that the car is headed for a new life as a street rod.  There is enough there to start a restoration, but it would make no sense financially.  The buy it now price is cheaper than ordering a Brookville roadster body.  I hate to see an original car get chopped up, but that is the reality of the market right now.

What do you think is going to happen to this roadster?



  1. Puhnto

    You call this a “cabriolet” in the opening paragraph. The terms cabriolet, convertible, and roadster are not interchangeable with Model-A Fords. A cabriolet was a specific model of car, which this one isn’t. (I believe they all had rumble seats as well. This roadster has a trunk.) Cabriolets also had roll-up windows.

    Like 9
    • Ronald

      Cabriolet bodies has their windshield post made onto the cowl running straight up, This car has a bolt on windshield slightly tilted at the top making it a roadster. To me the bolt on roadster windshield looks much better.

      Like 5
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Love seeing a semi complete car but the money and the condition are way off balance on this one. It is a favorite body style of mine and they do make great street rods, especially if you keep and use the entire body. Again though, at this price you are upside down the minute you write the check.

    Like 7
  3. Solosolo UK ken tilly UK Member

    Hot Rod it. There are more than enough semi original “A’s” already without adding another one.

    Like 5
  4. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

    Should’a kept that flathead V8 we had sitting here in the shop!

    Like 5
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    This one is definitely going to put you between a rock and a hard place. If you want to hot rod it you’re already faced with a big expense just to get the body and frame. Then you have to restore what you want to use then modify it. You might as well get the reproduction body and have at it. The cost of boxing in the frame then modifying the rest of it to fit the powertrain you want, plus the powertrain itself would have you wondering if the best way was to get a custom rolling chassis that already has everything you want to put the chassis into shape. No, this one would be for the total purist who wants to restore it to as Henry built it. And yes, you can buy a pretty good driver for less than $20K so unless you are one of those who loves the restoration journey you might be better off seeking out a driver…

    Like 10
  6. Ken

    So that’s what happened to Jim Bob Walton’s car.

    Like 4
  7. ghalperin Glenn Halperin

    Street rod? Not a chance.

    Like 3
  8. Joe Haska

    Lots of valid comments, but what it boils down to this car is not a bargain, no matter what you want to do with it, Restore or Hot Rod? However, people take on projects all the time ,that don’t make financial sense, and someone will probably do it again !

    Like 2
  9. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Make an offer, who knows what it might actually sell for. I do believe hot rod is the only way to go with one in this shape. It’s not for me, but they can look nice when done right. But unless you like getting road debris thrown on the back of your head and other places leave the fenders on it.
    God bless America

    Like 5
  10. Doc

    If it’s restorable, it should be restored, not destroyed by building yet another crappy hot rod. This is a pretty easy restoration, though I think the price is a little ambitious.

    Like 10
  11. JagManBill

    get it running/driving and leave it just like it is….

    Like 6

    Hot Rod it.

    Like 1
  13. Bob McK

    Let’s see what someone does with this one.

    Like 0
  14. Don Foote

    Hope they leave it as a jalopy and slowly acquire whatever light be missing.

    Like 1
  15. Clay Bryant

    Hot Rod? Get a glass body and manufactured frame. Just 60 hours into this one at 80 bucks an hour body work is 5 grand. This is a super home project using “free slave ” labor. To build a “hot rod” that looks like everyone else’s figure on 35-40 grand and then you just have a walk by “hot rod” like the other 100 in the row…………..

    Like 1

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