One day last week, my son Jimmy and I went to lunch at a place known for its chicken sandwiches. We sat in a booth with a good view of the drive-thru line. It was a busy day at the restaurant, and the line of cars was long.
It is fun watching cars go through a drive thru. They move slowly enough that you can take them in. Its also funny how most people look like they belong in their cars. Normal looking moms in minvans, and the cars with the most bumper stickers tend to have the girls with the spikiest and most colorful hair. And the guy in the weird sunglasses trying to look cool in a Mitsubish sedan. But then . . . woah!
Suddenly, idling along amidst a sea of gray minivans and white SUVs was one of my favorite cars ever, a Ford Model A roadster. I didn’t get a good look at the front, but I believe it to be a 1930, though it could easily be a ’31. The sidemount spare and the accessory trunk make this one pretty well accessorized. I am quite sure that I have never seen a Ford Model A going through a fast food drive thru. Until now.
A sunny summer day, a cruise in a Model A and a delicious chicken sandwich – what a great life. I just hope he didn’t get a large drink, because I used to own one of these and can tell you that there is a distinct shortage of cupholders.
What a gorgeous car. A Model A is definately on my bucket list of cars I hope to someday own.
Model A’s used to be for anyone. Now just for those folks who have had them in the family for years or are obscenely rich. That’s why I would be surprised to see a model A at a fast food drive in. I would normally expect them to have sent out for their food. Maybe this guy is some sort of exception.
40 years ago you found parts for a Model A in the J.C. Whitney catalog. Which gives you an idea of the socio-economic level of the owners back then.
Model As in decent condition are surprisingly affordable. Sure there are some silly prices for perfect cars, and very rare body styles, but a presentable driver -not a show car- can be had reasonably.
I rode in an A pickup about a year ago, now I’m hooked.
A lot of pre-WW2 cars that are not Packards, Pierces or Cadillacs are quite affordable. One of the sad reasons is that their enthusiasts are dying off faster than they are being replaced.
What better way to flaunt your wealth…than to hit the drive-through, filled as it is with proles, with your priceless classic car? Take that, wage-slaves…
That Model A is worth some serious money. Probably worth more than $ 20K. I never saw one with a neat trunk like that.
One day last year, I went through a drive thru bank window in my 78 Eldo. The teller, an older lady a few years my senior, just couldn’t get over the car. She kept asking me questions about the car. She said it was hard to believe all cars were once that big, etc. Said I really looked good in the car. She really made my day.
I don’t think young chicks are very impressed with cars like that. The girls at the Chick-Fil-A probably thought the guy was some kind of oddball. (Their chicken sandwiches are pretty good.)
One thing very interesting about this is how the pictures show the height of the driver relative to modern SUVs. Clearly people still want to sit high, and it’s sad manufacturers couldn’t give them that without all the SUV silliness.
Before we moved to the Middle West, I was very active in our EAA Chapter, and took a number of young people on their first airplane ride, usually around Stone Mountain, GA or up over Lake Lanier (north of Atlanta).
Our airport hosted a public fly-in every fall, and we usually had one or two folks show up with Wacos or Stearmans (Stearmen?) selling rides and flying off the grass between the strip and taxiway (which I took advantage of a time or two).
A good friend owned a ’32 Model A, and we decided to use it to run folks out to the flight line and back. I ended up driving all day, and had more fun that should be legal. Numerous “more mature people” would come up while I was waiting on the next flight and ask for a ride, to which I gladly obliged. Over and over, I heard stories about how it was the car they learned to drive in, or went a-courtin’ in back in the day.
It was truly a blast, and a Model A with a little patina as a fair-weather driver ranks very close to the top of my list one of these days.
A few years back, at a car and plane show in Galesburg, you could buy a ticket and get a ride in a restored Ford Tri-Motor. I still regret not going out there and going for a ride!
My older son and I rode in a Trimotor at Oshkosh in 1999 – it was really neat. Very low, slow and loud. We ate it up.
I owned a nice but not perfect coupe in the early 90s. I learned at the time that until Mustangs took over, the Model A was the most collected car of them all. Even then, I found that values were flattening because the generation who loved and restored these was getting along in years. You will pay top dollar for the very best of the best, but many others (closed cars, particularly) can be had pretty reasonably.
Anyone who yearns for one of these should make inquiries and see if there is a local Model A club. I would imagine that some older owners would rather see a car go to someone who will use and love it rather than let it sit and try to sell it to a stranger.
These may be the perfect hobby car. Rock simple with so little to break with age, it will sit happily ignored for months then fire right up. Parts are readily obtainable and pretty inexpensive. And you will make friends wherever you go.
It has already been observed that these are as tall as a modern SUV. That big old 200 cid 4 cylinder probably also uses about as much gas as that Honda Pilot that it is following. But its fpg (fun per gallon) is out of the park. I should never have sold mine, and I want another one.
Yep, the Flood City AACA chapter (Johnstown, PA and surrounding area) back in the late 60’s and early 70’s was something like 15 Model A’s, 9 Model T’s, 3-30’s Buicks, 1 Cord, 4 Packards, 2 or 3 Chevrolets. Back before the “American Graffiti” days old Ford’s ruled the antique car hobby, and they were restored to factory original, not hot rodded or slightly customized into Friday night teenage cruise cars.
Sometimes it seems like there’s less Model A’s around now. I don’t think their numbers have dwindled, they’ve just been completely swamped with muscle and pony cars.
Of course, their popularity hasn’t been helped by the realization that the normal highway speed for one of those is 45mph. Which is about as fast as people drove 80 years ago.
Around 1990, in a row of old garages behind a new bank, I spotted a black Model A Coupe in one of them with the owner just putzing around. I said hello and struck up a conversation. He told me that his car was a ’29, and he was putting it up for sale. The car was totally original, not in excellent shape, but a nice driver. The inside was a bit weathered just like the outside. The guy wanted $ 5K for it. I was interested, so the guy started it up and pulled it out of the garage. I tried to get behind the wheel, and found that at 6’3″, my legs were just too long for the car. My knees were right under the steering wheel. No way could I drive the car. The seat back was right up against the back window, so I doubt the seat could be altered.
I thanked the guy and left. Cars of that era were not designed for tall guys, a minority, like myself. I had an opportunity to drive a Crossfire convertible a couple of years ago. Same story. I can’t understand how today, as people are much taller than in 1929, cars like that Crossfire completely eliminate a sizable chunk of potential buyers.
I said above it was a ’32 Model A I drove ferrying people around at the air show, but now realize it must have been a ’31, and it was a Tudor, which perhaps had more legroom than the Coupe you drove. I’m 6′-5″ tall, and don’t remember it being overly cramped (but then, I was driving a ’64 VW Beetle at the time, so maybe it felt roomy to me!).
I will say, though, that my clutch leg was cramping by the end of the day!
A year ago a young man in Traverse City, Michigan was in the home stretch of an entire year of driving a 1930 Tudor coupe as a daily driver. http://www.365daysofa.com
Very entertaining to follow, at the time.
In general the Model A is not a rich person’s collector or toy car they are quite affordable around here. I occasionally search craigslist for them and there are often examples for under 15K that have been restored at some point, are quite presentable and don’t have that many miles on their refreshed mechanicals.