Thursday, July 12, 2012

Henry’s Lady

Ford automobiles have, for over 100 years, been a big part of American life.  It is hard to imagine in 2012, just how big that influence once was.  The Model A Ford replaced the Model T in 1928. By that time, there had been at least 2500 different automobile brands manufactured in the United States.  Henry only reluctantly gave up the Model T when his market share dropped below 50%!                      

1908                                                  1927

The last Model T rolled off of the assembly line on May 26,1927, after a production run of over 15 million cars. That was a record for a single model that would stand until 1969 when the VW finally produced more Beetles. (Toyota claims the top spot now, but their Corolla has had many model changes within the model name.  No one could be convinced the 2012 Corolla is the same car they produced in 1978, could they?)

Ford shut down the assembly line for six months while the “New Ford” was designed and new tooling built.  The introduction of the “New Ford” was one of the most anticipated media events ever until that time.  It was estimated that over two million people came to Ford showrooms on December 2, 1927 to personally view the car, and several thousand put down cash deposits for their purchase.

The new car was called the Model A, and for anyone wondering why A follows T, there is an explanation.  The Ford Motor Company was actually Henry Ford’s third automobile company, the other two being the Detroit Auto Company in 1899 and the Henry Ford Company in 1900 .   When the Henry Ford Company failed, the assets and designs were purchased by Henry Leland and became Cadillac. The first Cadillac auto was a Model A, designed by Henry Ford.  When he founded the Ford Motor Company, he produced an identical Model A under his own brand.  The first Cadillac and the first Ford had the same designer and interchangeable parts! Ford went on to produce a model B,C,F,K,N,R and S before the Model T. The missing letters are presumed to be cars that never made it into production. In 1928 the “New Ford” was so revolutionary (for Ford at least) that the it was decided they should begin again with the alphabet.

The new Ford had four wheel brakes and a conventional sliding gear  transmission. (the Model T’s brakes were in the planetary transmission and only worked on the rear wheels).  A nod was given to styling and comfort on the new car, areas that had not been considered important on the T.  All in all, the new Model A Ford was an automobile, where the Model T was a still a horseless carriage.

America (and the rest of the world) embraced the Model A.  In its four year production run, over five million cars and trucks were built. The production of the Model T had lasted 19 years.  Today, the Model A is one of the most popular collector cars in a huge hobby.  There are two national clubs, the Model A Restorer’s Club (MARC) and the Model A Ford Club of America (MAFCA), plus many local chapters of each.  There are also thousands of Model A owners who choose not to align themselves with any club.

Almost every part for the Model A is being reproduced.  Everything from wiring, complete bodies, fenders, upholstery down to individual special nuts and bolts are available from several vendors. I have a friend in California that is in the process of casting new engine blocks.  One of the best stocked dealers is in Maysville, GA, northeast of Atlanta: Mike’s A-Fordable Parts

Of the over five million Model A Fords that were produced, only 3,429 roadster pickups were made in 1930. 

This video was made the day that I got the truck running again.  A fresh battery, fresh gas, freeing two stuck valves, air in the tires, and away we go!

Resurrected, not restored

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