Mike Carvin purchased this 1929 Ford Model A Roadster pickup about a year and a half ago.
"I paid $12,000 for the truck, but it didn't look like it does today," the Alamo man said.
"The chassis and motor had been done but the man who was having it restored passed away. Then someone just threw it back together. The body needed a lot of work, there was no top and parts and pieces were missing.
"A neighbor acquired the truck, planned to restore it until he found another old classic car he wanted more, so he sold it to me," Carvin said. "As a kid, I was continuously intrigued by Model A's and I always wanted a Roadster pickup. This one was even painted an original Ford color, Andalusite Blue with black fenders, one of the four color combinations offered."
Once attained, the next step was to have it properly restored. To Carvin that means flawlessly. The truck was sent to Rusty A's Restorations in Placerville that did a magnificent job. He actually rebuilt the truck from the ground up which included patching up some bullet holes in the back of the cab. The net result of a year's work is a vehicle considerably nicer than Henry Ford put out in 1929 for $395 (about $5,300 today). Of course Carvin had to pay more than $395 for the work and he would just as soon keep that number to himself.
What separates a great restoration from a good restoration is attention to detail. For example, Carvin upgraded his truck slightly but still maintained the original look. He had the headlights and radiator shell nickel-plated instead of being painted the standard black.
The headlights have halogen bulbs for better visibility with a separate bulb in the headlight that serves as a front turn signal. A 12-volt system eplaced the old six-volt system and he installed 1929 styled Goodyear white wall tires. The two spare tires have rear view mirrors attached with leather straps and are time period correct but exceeded what Henry Ford would have offered. Carvin's truck has a folding top, though not an easy task to fold down. The original equipment was a removable cloth top but not folding.
When Rusty A's was finished with the restoration, the bed of the truck had a beautiful oak floor plus oak side boards. Was Henry Ford an early environmentalist or just cheap when he recycled the wooden slats from shipping pallets for the truck bed?
Carvin wanting his truck to be as close to original as possible has the four-cylinder, 40 HP, 200.5 c.i. engine and three-speed floor shift transmission. An overdrive gear was added, so the four-banger doesn't have to work as hard to cruise at 65 MPH. It has four wheel mechanical brakes and double action hydraulic shock absorbers with semi-elliptic front and rear transverse springs.
For the first time, a gas gauge was standard equipment, quite an upgrade from using a dip stick in the Model T, There is no heater, roll down windows, or exterior door handles with this truck. There are side curtains and two side glass wind deflectors, which Carvin believes may have been a dealer installed option.
The Ford Model A was an instant hit when introduced in December 1927. Carvin explained there were Fordor sedans (that's the way they spelled it), Tudor sedans, Roadsters, Coupes, and Phaeton models but there was no pickup in the line. In 1928 a pickup body was added, but all the Ford body combinations sat on the same chassis and 103.5-inch wheelbase.
"The only difference would be the number of leaves in the springs depending on the weight of the car body plus payload or number of passengers," Carvin said.
Ford sold 4 million Model A vehicles in its four-tear production run. It was vastly superior to the replaced Model T which was produced for nearly 20 years with only minor changes.
Carvin loves driving his Model A truck as well as his Model A Town car around town. He said he has two passions: "One is for Spanish Colonial revival architecture popular in the late 1920s and early 1930s and the other is Model A's. I'm inspired by Henry Ford and how he changed the way we live today."
Behind Carvin's Spanish Colonial-style house, he is building a three-stall barn to hold his two perfectly restored Model A vehicles. The slab is already complete and soon so will be the barn.
There was an old 1950's advertisement that showed a hand holding a crystal ball that read, "There's a Ford in your future." Perhaps in Carvin's case the word "another" should be inserted.
Have an interesting vehicle? Contract David Krumboltz at MOBopoly@yahoo.com