One day in 1963 near Abilene, Texas, George Deel plunked down $25 for a Late 1931 Ford Model A five-window coupe deluxe.
Part of the appeal for Deel was his memory as child riding in a 1930 Model A Ford sedan.
“It was the only car my folks had,” said 72-year-old Deel, who now lives in Blue Springs. “My earliest memory was riding in that car. It was the only car we had until I was 7 years old.”
Deel’s father in 1963 wasn’t quite as nostalgic about the Late 1931 Ford Model A that his son purchased. He looked at the car and then said, “You overpaid for it.”
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At the time, Deel was in the Air Force. He wanted a car that he could fix up and restore when he was home.
“It took a while before I got it restored,” Deel said.
A car that looked to most as if it was a prime candidate for the salvage yard was already a jewel to Deel. He knew it was going to take time to restore it. But in his mind’s eye, the Late 1931 Ford Model A coupe was already showroom-ready.
“I have always been able to look at something and take it from a bad thing and restore it,” Deel said.
Deel tells the story of the restoration with a sense of humor. The process began in earnest in 1978.
“We went all the way to the chassis with it,” he said. “My ex-wife almost hated the car as much as she hated me. If you ever have an ex-wife, you know what I’m talking about.”
Deel didn’t give up on the car and he didn’t give up on love. After having the car stripped to its frame in 1978, he let it sit for the next four years.
“In 1982, after being divorced, I started working on it,” Deel said. “I did some of the body work, and all the paint job was done by a fellow who was renting a house from me.”
The restoration was completed in 1983.
“By then I was remarried,” Deel said. “My wife was a tremendous support to me.”
It is easy to see the support they have for each other’s hobbies inside their home. Deel’s wife enjoys quilting, and her work is visible throughout their home. Deel has so many unique car ornaments from the past that he has an area in his basement he calls his museum.
Deel likes gadgets and he likes putting them on his car. He wanted more than to restore the car as a basic model. He added a clock, which in those days was considered an accessory.
He added a holder for flower vases. On the outside of the car, there is an accessory called a gas station on wheels, which has three different tin containers for gasoline, water and oil.
“When these cars were first available, they didn’t have a gas station on every corner,” Deel said. “It could be several miles before you could get gasoline.”
Deel also added a Boyce radio moto meter. A moto meter showed the driver if the car was close to overheating. It was also an accessory back in the 1930s. Deel said that the radio part of the term was just a catch phrase of the day.
“It had nothing to do with the radio,” Deel said. “TV was once a catch phrase, like TV dinner and TV tray.”
Deel added other accessories like a luggage rack in the back. He even said the car had air conditioning. He smiled when he pulled out a hand fan that you hold and wave back and forth.
In all seriousness, he showed how the front windshield could be pushed forward to allow air to breeze through.
“In the day, it was quite advanced,” Deel said.
With all the accessories, Deel figures the car is now worth $16,000 to $17,000 and without the accessories, it is worth about $13,050.
Deel, though, restored the car for personal satisfaction and not for financial gain.
“Words can’t describe the pleasure that I received from doing it,” Deel said. “The 30 years since it has been restored, you can’t count in dollars the joy and pleasure I have had.
“It was completed in 1983. It has held up well. We have almost 20,000 miles on it since restoration. Mostly it is short driving to tours, car shows and parades.”
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Deel meets with a group at a Price Chopper in Blue Springs.
“There is anywhere from eight to 20 of us,” Deel said. “We drink coffee and talk and usually, if the weather is nice, we will drive our Model As. They all have Model As. We have kind of a little car show.”
Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like see featured in Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com