ST. JOSEPH — Late last August, Richard Dahms was sitting at a stoplight in Savannah, Mo., in his 1930 Model A Ford coupe when another just like it, driven by Lee Felsburg, pulled alongside. What’s the chance of two Model As ending up at the same light in a small town?
By TOM STRONGMAN
Dahms was in Savannah, the county seat, to have his recently purchased car inspected. He and Felsburg struck up a conversation that quickly led to a friendship centered on their Model As.
The three of us, and a couple of Dahms’ friends, met for lunch shortly before Christmas so they could tell me about their Model As. The Model A, introduced in late 1927, replaced the Model T, and it was built until 1931. It had a three-speed transmission, hydraulic shock absorbers and four-wheel mechanical brakes. Modern touches included an electric starter, water pump, speedometer and gas gauge.
Dahms, 81, is a retired attorney and former judge. Last summer he got the bug to buy a vintage car. When he was in college and law school he drove a 1932 Model B Ford, maroon with yellow wheels and a flathead V-8, and he remembered it fondly. He paid $75 for it. He sold it for a 1950 Ford when he got his first “real job,” he said. He has regretted it ever since.
Because 1932 Fords are extremely hard to find (they are very popular as hot rods), Dahms decided to settle for something close. He found a 1930 Model A coupe for sale at an estate auction in Oregon, Mo., and came home the lucky buyer.
His said his car was thought to have been purchased new by a woman school teacher in Oregon, then sold in 1967. Dahms is the third owner. The coupe, which has 8,892 miles on the odometer, is completely original and has not been restored. Dahms said it needs a tune-up, some exhaust work and a repair to the rumble seat.
“I am a novice owner and not mechanical,” he said. “I bought the car as part of a mid-life crisis because my wife wouldn’t move to Maui.”
Felsburg, 83, is a retired preacher who said he “just enjoys driving” his car. He said his dad had a Model A when Felsburg was a kid, and he took is driver’s license test in it.
He bought his car after retiring, and he said it is as much fun as a second childhood. He often drives it to the bank, the grocery and to church.
“It goes from zero to wobbly pretty quick,” he said with a chuckle. “I really like the Model A.”
Tom Strongman’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. To read other Gallery stories, go to tomstrongman.com.