Restore Or Rod? 1931 Ford Model A Pickup

As a fan of rat rods and rusty hot rods, this is the kind of truck I’d love to find. The original paint has been perfectly patina’d over time and rust is in all the right places. There are skilled painters that spend countless hours attempting to recreate what Mother Nature does with decades of time. This particular truck is a 1930 or 31 Ford Model A (the seller doesn’t know which and doesn’t have the title). Found here on eBay in New Ulm, Minnesota with a current bid of $3,500. While 1932 saw the introduction of the V8 engine, the previous years are still really cool trucks. How would you build this one?

It appears the interior has been stripped of all but the seat frames and steering wheel. This will give the new owner a blank slate to start from. There does appear to be some rust that has eaten all the way through some spots and the floors will need to be rebuilt. How about using old street signs as flooring?

This truck has a great look. Even if you only use the grill shell, cab and bed, the rest of the parts can be sold to recoup some of the cost of the build. While the early thirties Ford cars and trucks don’t quite have the same styling as the 1932 and beyond, they are still handsome.

The sale does include various drivetrain parts including the original engine and transmission. Unfortunately, the engine is said to be frozen. Bad news if you were planning on restoring this truck, but fine if you were planning an engine swap anyways. These trucks are great with almost any engine. From a period Flathead to a Cadillac or early Hemi, you really can’t go wrong as long as it’s done right.


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  1. Dusty Stalz

    It’s a 31. You can tell by the grill shell and splash aprons. A 2 min google search would tell you that. This thing is way too nice to cut up. Please stop with the rat rods.

    Like 5
    • dgrass

      IMO practicality should be the first consideration a person takes when determining the best outcome for a project of this magnitude. While I would love to see something like this restored, I just don’t see it being practical for a majority of the people out there.

      I just hope it gets a good home and a new start…

    • Mister319

      At least a hot rod can be driven other places besides a parade,once a year.

      Like 3
      • grant

        You can throw a Pinto motor in an A and drive it all day long.

        Like 1
      • Peter

        You could ‘throw’ petrol into an A and drive it all your life my boy.

      • Jim Novak.

        A misconception used to justify modifying originals. A restored factory-original is always more reliable than a homemade car.

        Like 2
    • Jim

      I agree. These stock pickups are getting rarer. It would look great with some restoration work. Keep the rust patina, it adds character.

      Like 5
  2. R. B.

    Well, if rust is what your looking for, then I think you’ve found it. ☺
    ………I hear the word “patina” used a lot, but I see a rusty vehicle every time it’s used,….so why do people try to make it sound better by saying patina?
    ………but then again, variety and diversity is what makes us all unique,…so if something that you’re searching for has an abundance of “patina” and that makes you happy,…then I am happy for you. ☺

    Like 4
  3. Madmatt

    That is perfect the way it is! Make drivable,and
    Enjoy ! Looks like a dream..! These old time machines
    Are getting pretty affordable…!,and look like fun 😍😎
    I love an old iron classic truck…!would be a shame to
    Do anything beyond……leaving it alone !, But make her a runner !!😉

    Like 3
  4. Dave Mc

    Too much there to rod it out.
    Go find a crustier one for that.
    Meant to be stock..

    Like 3
  5. Barney wilkins

    It’s hard to tell from the picture but it looks like a late 31 with the solid roof. If that’s the case it’s somewhat rare

    Like 2
  6. jw454

    I wonder if you get all the motor parts pictured with it? If so, there is a flathead V8 and transmission in that pile too. I hope it finds a good home… at least better than the one it has now.

    Like 1
  7. Peter

    Wow… this must be the prototype for Jeremiah Tuttle’s Hill Billy ‘Thunderbirds: International Rescue’ TV Series car. I think taht was a model T however ( :

  8. Rube Goldberg Member

    What a great find. I’d get it ( back) roadworthy and leave it just the way it is. This is far more representative of what these trucks looked like in the day.

    Like 3
  9. jdjonesdr

    Get it running, wipe it down with WD40 and off you go.

    Like 1
    • Peter

      Don’t forget to add a drop of Grannies “spring tonic” or rhematiz .

  10. geomechs geomechs Member

    Definitely worth fixing. Some take years and start with less than what’s here. The end result is worth all the effort. And they can be driven a lot of miles bone stock…

    Like 5
  11. Chris in WNC


    the guy above who thinks stock Model As are only fit for parades is WRONG.
    I have driven 50-60,000 miles in Model As including numerous long-distance tours. All with mechanical brakes and no modifications except a high compression head and either an overdrive or 3.54:1 ring and pinion. A properly built and maintained A will roll at 55-60 mph all day without any problems.

    off the soapbox and back to this truck- perfect candidate for preservation and touring; hope that’s where it ends up. The stuck engine is not a major issue, if it is not rebuildable, get a good block and restamp the engine #.

    Like 4
    • Mark S. Member

      Isn’t restamping the engine a bit dishonest. There are guys out there that covet a numbers matching vehicle and by restamping your being fraudulent. JMO. As for me I’d restomod it keeping the outward appearances stock while installing a more modern drive line 302 engine five speed gear box mustang rear end and arm front suspension with rack and pinion steering. I’ve driven enough under powered vehicles to know how scary that can be and I wouldn’t want to be in this thing with a semi breath down my neck. As for rustina I have weighed in many times and my Veiw point is that it’s rust and left unchecked it will continue to advance until your beyond repair and it’s ugly which makes a car look shabby and unmaintained. It also make a car look unfinished like the owner either lacked the skill to do the work or couldn’t afford to get someone else to do it for him. Geomechs is right the effort is worth the end result.

      Like 2
      • Steve

        Do Model A even have numbers to match?

    • Frederico Ortiz

      Thank you for saying that.

  12. Matt Member

    I like the Hemi idea. Something like a 392 would be neat.

  13. Joe Haska

    If you really like this truck, I suggest one thing! Sit in it! All the comments about how you would drive it stock or modified don’t have much to do with it. If you are of average size for most people today , they are so uncomfortable , a parade is a marathon. I have seen dozens of sales of 28 to 34 Ford pick-ups go south, just because buyers realized how small they really are.

    Like 1
  14. fahrvergnugen

    Found in a barn/sawmill on Walton Mountain.

  15. FordGuy1972 Fordguy1972 Member

    I agree with R.B., patina is one thing, rust is another. These days “patina” is just a pretentious euphemism for “rust”, used by people trying to impress others with the originality of their crappy vehicle. Previously used by antique dealers to describe what time has done to the finish of a Chippendale chair or an 18c. bronze sculpture, it’s now used by Nate Nitwit to describe a rusted ’63 Rambler.
    This truck has great potential but fix the rust and let time supply the patina.

    • Peter

      Patina – Usually an antique furniture term.

      • Pete

        Patina – What happens to an original finish over time and lack of proper preservation. On an Antique Winchester 1873 that would mean the bluing had oxidized and gone to a plum/brown color. The surface underneath wouldn’t be pitted or rusted.

        Rustina – looks similar but large amounts of the original material has rusted away leaving holes where daylight or the ground shows through.

        Dug Up – Is where an item was abandoned to the elements for some reason and it is sinking back into the earth. It appears rusty, pitted and usually locked up mechanically. They tend to never be destined to operate because of the poor condition.

        Steaming pile of excrement – This item resembles it’s former self only vaguely. Usually found covered in vegetation, kudzu,leaves, trees growing out of them etc. Exposed to the elements for decades. All metal rendered unusable, soft parts are almost gone.The only possibility of restoration is if there happens to be a title and data plate that can be transfer to a complete new car. Take the gas cap off and slide another car or truck under it.

        Like 1
  16. Will Owen Member

    There was a perfectly serious article in Popular Mechanics (I think) in around 1950-52 touting the A as a perfectly useful urban errand-runner/commuter. Granted, the cars were more plentiful and only 20-some years old, but having ridden in a couple run by friends – both of them quite tall, Joe! – I can see why they are still quite popular. There is (or was) a New Year’s Day excursion for old cars from Pasadena up Mt. Wilson, and the two I photographed before takeoff included about half the big parking lot’s space filled with A’s and T’s.

    Like 1
  17. Ron

    I would lower it, put hydraulic brakes on it, artillery style wheels and slightly larger tires, a hot Chevy/Mercruiser four cylinder in it, a five speed transmission, decent single color paint job and drive the hound out of it.

  18. scottymac

    Expected the Jodes to appear in one of those pictures!

  19. Derek

    Neat old truck. Leave it just the way it is but make it run, throw a coupla bales of hay in the back, get yourself some old torn overalls and an old straw hat, stop by Walmart and buy a few bushel baskets of fruits and vegetables, then head to your local “Farmer’s Market” and quadruple your money or better on “your” produce. Don’t forget to take the stickers off the apples.

    Like 5
  20. JW

    JW…a.k.a Mr. Modifier say’s restomod it.

  21. Beatnik Bedouin

    I’m probably choose to do a restoration, but add some period correct speed equipment for a bit more go…

    Like 1
    • Will Owen Member

      An Ardun OHV head and some period headers would be killer, and I know they’re out there because I’ve seen several photos lately.

      First use of period speed equipment I’ve seen around here (SoCal) was a car show in Old Town Whittier – most of the guys were Latino, and had some awfully sharp pre-WW2 GM cars as well as 40s and 50s cars. There was one late-40s Chevy that had a rodded stock engine with Fenton headers and a two-carb intake. I guess it makes sense that the part of the country that used most of that stuff would still have some!

  22. Doug

    Unfortunately, no matter what you do will not add much value compared to the cost – very nice Model As can be found for well under $20k- all ready to drive.
    It would probably cost a bit more than that to do a driver quality restoration, even doing a lot of the work yourself.
    Personally, I’d go with a restomod – either a 4 banger Pinto or Toyota 22R, 5 speed, juice brakes – maybe discs or decent drums, put the gas tank under the bed for safety, and a decent paint job- nothing fancy, just driver quality, maybe a satin finish, and have fun driving it. Of course an Aoogah horn is mandatory !

    Like 3
    • Johnny Rocco

      The words “restoration” and “modified” don’t fit together. It’s one or the other.

      Like 2
  23. John Maurin

    I drove a 30 model a in the 80s as my only car for a year and I never held up traffic. I drove it 9 other years as a second car a lot. People that don’t know about original model a’s just don’t know what they will do and I lived all my life in busey Phoenix Ariz.

    Like 1

    Flathead with a 3 speed manual. Upgrade the brakes and suspension and go cruising.

  25. Peter

    Is this another one here

  26. Jack

    Get it running and drive it as it is

    Like 2
  27. BOYCE

    the only time you want to destroy a truck like this is when its too far gone this truck is not that. get it drivable enjoy it, have fun with it. in the end let it show its age.this truck is perfect in my eyes. its ages like an old bottle of wine. why pour it out and fill the bottle with grape juice, if that makes since. for me if this old truck war at a car show and a restored one next to it, for me i would be drawn to the old rusty truck,their is a story their that continues on were as the resored one is in my eyes stoped . thats how i look at them, just my opinion. thanks

    Like 1

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