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Drove a Ford Model A...

Discussion in 'American Muscle' started by snj5, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
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    Russ Turner
    #1 snj5, Jan 17, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Had the opportunity to drive a Ford Model A. What fun! And she was a beauty - a Teal blue Two door with black fenders and yellow wheels; a grey LeBarron Bonney mohair interior completes the ambiance. The seat in the 29's was not adjustable, so I wedge in behind the big wheel - a big wheel that is there for a reason as w'ell see later. You sit commandingly high with a fair amount of sideways and head room. As a 6'+ big guy it is very short on legroom, and all that separates you from the iron lump of a motor is a thin steel wall. You can see behind to the outside from the driver's seat where the controls pass through. It is amazing to see all of the roots of modern car controls in a 77 year old embryonic state and realize, "hey, this is kinda familiar.."
    To start you turn on the fuel (gravity fees - no pump), set the mixture to rich, retard the spark, key on, then hit the starter button on the floor which engages and starts the 20 hp 4 cyl side valve engine (no timing belts or interference here!). Depress the clutch, slip the non synchromesh transmission (it's 1929!), press down on the gas button. While steadily coming up on the clutch, add a bit more gas and away you go! The car is so solid, robust and simple, and lordy what torque - you can go around a slow corner in top gear (3rd). That is good, as you really muscle the car around using the big wheel with no power steering and mechanical pushrod brakes. The car seemed to like about 45 mph, but could cruise at 50. The steering is very direct, but heavy - she wavers around a bit as the tall narrow tires are a little different track that than today's cars so they do not fit the natural ruts in modern roads. The ride from the front and rear transverse leaf spring is surprisingly nice and soft - but don't go around a corner to fast - the center of graviry is about a mile high - and you really feel it. It is amazing how much I learned about basic car dynamics in one ride; you do not feel the physical force interplay as readily in more modern cars. In the A, thay are all there and quite exaggerated,
    If you ever get an opportunity to drive one of these, take it immediately! It is a different world of motoring that makes automotive history alive. I think the vintage car hobby must be terrifically fun and everyone seems very pleasant. Hmmmm, where's my Hemmings...
    While I didn't have a camera, she looked something like this:
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  3. Dan Ciezniewzky

    Dan Ciezniewzky Formula 3
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    Sep 6, 2004
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    I always find it amazing to see and hear about thiese things, sounds like a blast. Amazingly coming from someone like me who only considers a cars performace when deciding to buy it. This has no performance and must be a pain in the butt, yet somehow it intriges me :) Im sure all the purists on here will love it.

    Whats somthing like that worth??

    I'd like to get an old gangsta car someday and fix it up a bit then dock my best 1940's apparal and go out crusing :p
     
  4. sjmst

    sjmst F1 Veteran
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    Jul 31, 2003
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    Great write up, thanks. Did it have a hand throttle or pedal?
     
  5. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
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    Russ Turner
    He would take $11K
     
  6. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
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    Yes - I forgot - both!
    While it had a 'button' on the floor to press for gas, there was also an adjustable hand throttle on the steering wheel - for warm up and could be used for 'cruise control'!!!
     
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  8. TexasMike

    TexasMike F1 Veteran

    Feb 17, 2005
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    Russ, was it Wes' that you drove?
     
  9. BigAl

    BigAl F1 Veteran

    Mar 17, 2002
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    GSgt Hartman
    sounds a bit like starting my '48 Harley Panhead: key off, one kick prime, retard spark, give it another kick....maybe another....watch out it doesn't kick back....

    There's a group of Model A car owners that meet every Sat morning at a restaraunt in town, some of the cars look like they just rolled off the showroom floor...and some of the guys look like original owners!
     
  10. Dan Ciezniewzky

    Dan Ciezniewzky Formula 3
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    Sep 6, 2004
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    are you serious?!??!?!
    I would think those old cars would be very rare and extemely expensive (seeing as, what the model A was Fords 2nd car?), I might just have to get one soon :)
     
  11. TexasMike

    TexasMike F1 Veteran

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    Where do they meet? I'd like to take some photos of some of those cars.
     
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  13. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
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    No - it was a guy out in New Braunfels. He had two others: a coupe and a BEAUTIFULLY original forest green 31 Vicky Two door. I mean the Vicky even had its original interior in excellent shape. I cannot describe how gorgeous that car was.
    As for as pricing you can get A's north and south of $11K. I think right around there gets you a pretty nice car. And parts are plentiful and inexpensive.
    I am really hot to learn more about these cars and the famous flathead V-8. Everyone I talk to is really nice, much like old airplane people.
     
  14. BigAl

    BigAl F1 Veteran

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    Casa Garcia's on south Lamar, 8-ish, they're pretty much gone by 9-10.
    If seen as few as two and as many as eight cars. One time there was some kind of antique, open cockpit, open wheel racer there.
     
  15. TexasMike

    TexasMike F1 Veteran

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    Thanks! I'll have to check it out sometime.
     
  16. Choptop

    Choptop F1 Rookie

    Aug 15, 2004
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    Model A's are great fun.

    with an overdrive you can even hit freeway speeds. Although you might think twice about doing so with the stock mechanical brakes.

    The little 4 bangers run great. With some minor tweaks they can be bullet proof. Non-babbet bearings, ballenced crank shafts, down draft intake...

    get serious with a Rajah or Ardun head and you got something.

    My dad told tales of starting his Model A on kerosene then switching over to gas when he ran it down the road (war time gas rationing and all). 4:1 stock compression lets you do that.

    There is also a way to "run out of gas" by using yer foot under the dash. Dad said that ole gag worked to his advantage once or twice (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Oh yes, the shifter will rotate 180 degrees out of the way as well (see nudge and wink above). Good things to know.

    other Model A tips...

    you can set the points gap with a dime (then make the gap just a hair thinner).

    When shutting off the car you can, if you know the right combo of actions (throttle, spark advance), create a HUGE backfire. It usually blows the muffler apart, but hey, you can find them at the junkyard (at least in my dad's day).

    It is possible to drive a Model A without the body being bolted to the frame. You will notice your oversite when you hit the first really good bump.
     
  17. Choptop

    Choptop F1 Rookie

    Aug 15, 2004
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    Model A parts are plentiful (and sometimes cheap) too.

    both in aftermarket and original. Remember Ford made MILLIONS of them.

    Sacramento Vintage Ford is a good place to start. If they dont have it, they'll point ya in the right direction.

    Swap meets are always good for Model A parts.


    ok, so you hit a soft spot with me. At one time I had 3 Model A's. Sold them all off after dad pasted on, it just wasnt as fun to play with them without him around. But I still help some friends with theirs... and there is still a frame, and various A-bone parts lurking in the backyard.
     
  18. traimpz348

    traimpz348 Formula 3

    Apr 13, 2004
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    Great post. I'll be buying a Model A in a few months.
     
  19. Bullfighter

    Bullfighter Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Jan 26, 2005
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    Neat writeup, thanks!

    Was the iDrive simpler back then?
     
  20. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
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    #17 snj5, Jan 18, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017

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