Welcome to our new feature, Bedford Classic Cars. Every now and then you see a classic car driving around town that turns heads. “Wow! Check that car out! What is that? My brother had one like that. That’s so cool!” Classic cars not only lead to nostalgia, but they have many fans. There is an impressive list of cruise nights around New England to check out. Classic cars even show up in the Bedford Day Parade and are always a hit. We’re starting to explore Classic Cars in Bedford and learn more about them and their owners.
Today we’re going Old School.
Meet Mike and his 1929 Ford Model A Sport Coupe.
The Model A was the follow-up to the Model T, Henry Ford’s first mass produced car. The Model A featured prominently in the cinema-all the gangster movies in the 30’s had a Model A. Here’s what Ford’s History says about the Model A: THE 1928 FORD MODEL A
We will let Mike take it from here.
Tell me about your car. Make? model? If it is rare, how many were made? How many are left in the world, etc.
- It is a 1929 Ford Model A “Sport Coupe.”
- It has a 3-speed manual transmission (plus a single speed reverse gear).
- It seats two, and also has a “rumble seat” in the back that can squeeze in another 1 or 2 passengers.
- It has a leather “trunk” on a rear rack for storage (which is where we get the term ‘trunk’ from, in our modern day cars; they used to be actual external trunks attached to the rear of automobiles).
- In total, nearly 5 million Model A Fords were built. That is one of the reasons why we still see so many of them today.
- The car is entirely original, right down to the original 1929 Ford-issued oil can!
- It took a while to learn to drive it, as it requires the driver to double clutch – one to get into gear, and one to get out of gear (still, it is easier to drive than the Model T which has all kinds of levels and pedals to manipulate while steering.)
When and where did you buy it?
- I bought via a private sale from the son of the previous owner in Hudson, Massachusetts. His father had bought it “sight unseen” from an eBay auction and had it shipped from California to Massachusetts. He owned the car somewhat briefly, and his son lived in Illinois so he was still storing it at a garage in his father’s hometown. I think he was initially reluctant to sell it because of the connection to his father and his father’s connection to his granddaughter (I’m told she loved the car), so one of the things that I was careful to do was to reassure him that it would be well-loved. In November when I winterize it, I often send him a text and a photo to let him know it is being properly taken care of. In the spring when I fire it back up for a new season of driving I sometimes send him a video of it still purring. We have stayed somewhat connected and I keep letting him know that I am caring for it the way his father did.
What work have you done on it? Do you do it yourself or do you send it out? Or both?
- I am fortunate that I didn’t have to do much on it. It was in very good shape when I bought it. The few things I have done have been with the capable help of Jim Venuti – a Bedford resident (and neighbor) and a Belmont business owner (of Coachworks Auto Repair, who specializes in classic cars and hot rods.) Having someone like him so close by is amazing as I learned how to take care of it over the years.
Where do you show it?
- I don’t display the car in car shows or competitions, but I’m aware that the previous owner did. It’s in really good shape, but I would not consider it to be “show quality.”
- For me, it is mostly a weekend cruiser (or ‘Sunday Driver’).
- It was originally a California car, which means it was not exposed to salt roads and extreme temperatures like we have in New England winters. I drive it throughout the late spring (after salt has fully washed away), summer, and early fall. I winterize it for the coldest months and it stays off the roads. Each time I do we reference the story of Persephone, “And so Zeus proposed a compromise: Persephone would spend…1/3 [of the year] out of sight except to her husband, coinciding with the dark, winter months. When the time comes for Persephone to return, Demeter brings back the light and they ride together again, in the warm glow of the Vernal sun.”
Are there clubs for this model?
- There are Model A Car Clubs all over the country, and many of them go on multi-day tours of national parks, etc. They’re amazing. I belong to a local club, the Minuteman Model A Club out of Sudbury and their tours are a bit more humble – mostly to local ice cream stands. Those club members are geniuses. They can fix anything and they know everything about those cars. The previous owner, Gage, was a member so when I bought the car a lot of folks in the club knew it and had worked on it.
- I suppose it is unique that someone my age is interested in owning a Model A. I once saw a survey that estimated about 75% of them are owned by pre-boomer and baby boomers. I have found that the Model A community, though, is very welcoming and very encouraging of younger owners getting interested.
About the owner:
- When I was a young boy I visited the home of a friend of my father’s, Ted Osgood, in New Hampshire. More than 30 years later I still remember vividly it was this perfect autumn day. We were staying at his cabin because we were hiking and at some point that weekend he casually mentioned that he had “an old car” out back in his barn and invited us to see it. It was a Model A Ford and I was immediately hooked. He took us for a ride throughout his sprawling property – across grass, over fields, down dirt roads, etc., and I loved every second of it. If you were to ask me what made me want to own a Model A Ford, specifically, I would say it was that autumn in the rumble seat of Mr. Osgood’s “old car.” After that, every time I saw one driving down the road I would take notice. I could always spot an “A.” Over time as I started learning more and more about antique cars, it was the Model A that appealed to me the most.
About your car:
- Model A’s were built between 1928-1932.
- While most people know the Model T (which Ford produced for 18 years and put them on the map) it was surpassed by other companies over time, so the Model A was Henry Ford’s attempt to get back on top of the industry.
- Ford claimed that the Model A could travel up to 65 mph (but I think 45 mph is probably more accurate).
- Like the Model T, the Model As still had a 4-cylinder engine but it was more powerful.
- Compared to the Model T, the Model A had double the horsepower – 40 hp!
- Unlike the Model T, which only came in one color (‘As long as it’s black’) the Model A was notable in that it came in four standard colors.
- Originally my car would have been sold for $385. A luxury model would have gone for as much as $1,400.
- We all know the blue oval logo of Ford cars, but few know the Model A was the first to feature it.
- When the V-8 engine was developed, it signaled the end of the Model A.
- For owners seeking to own a pre-war automobile, the Model A is a great entry point. They are very simple to work on, there are a lot of them still on the road, and there are a lot of parts available.
- I agree with Geoff’s (1965 Chevelle) assessment that “classic cars are rolling pieces of history.” Driving my car makes you realize how different life was, how simple the mechanics were, and how much smaller people were in the 1920s! It is always fun to take it out and people constantly beep their horn or wave at us. People often come up to me and tell me stories of their father who had a similar car. It is definitely something that people connect over.
I know there are many more folks here in Bedford who have lovingly restored classic cars. Let me know if you’re one of them. I would love to share your, and your car’s, story.
Bedford Classic Cars – 1965 Blue Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS. The Bedford Citizen Sept 12, 2022