Some might argue that the $30,000 Larry McDonald spent to restore his 1929 burgundy two-door Model A sedan was too much.
But then, how much are your memories worth?
“I bought that car when I was 15,” said the 67-year-old semi-retired child psychiatrist from Prairie Village. “Paid $125 for it in 1961. I’ve had it ever since.”
McDonald was just one of the members of the Plain Ol’ As Model A Ford Club on Sunday to display their antique Fords at the City Market. About 90 families belong to the Shawnee club, which promotes the preservation and appreciation of Model A Fords.
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Growing up in Beloit, Kan., McDonald had his first date in his Model A. He snuck friends into the drive-in in his Model A. He even got to know the town’s chief of police in his Model A.
“Because I was not of age to drive, I accrued 13 warning tickets,” he said with a grin.
On Sunday a steady stream of people admired the handful of carefully cared-for cars.
“Beautiful,” said Jenny Foster of Kansas City, running a finger along the shiny hood of a 1928 khaki green Model A Roadster. “It’s like a work of art!”
Ford made the Model A for only four years, from 1928 to 1931.
“The Model A was a huge step up from the Model T, which was manufactured from 1907 through 1927,” said Earl Lohuis, 75, of Basehor, who has been a member of the Model A club since 1990. “It was the first all-steel-bodied car that Ford manufactured. It’s a very historic automobile.”
A lot of people wanted Fords back then, including V8 models that were far faster than Model As.
“All the bank robbers and bootleggers wanted Fords because they were fast and dependable,” Lohuis said. “In 1934 Clyde Barrow wrote Henry Ford a letter saying he would steal a V8 Ford anytime he could because in speed and dependability it had every other car ‘skinned.’”
But time and again it was the Model A that proved the most desirable.
The U.S. Post Office used Model As because of the car’s high center and its ability to get around in snow and mud, Lohuis said. In rural America farmers often removed the rear wheels and used the car to power corn grinders.
And today the Model A is the most popular with car collectors, said Alan South, a club member from Leawood.
“There are probably more Ford Model As on the road today than any other car from that era,” he said. “One of the reasons is its all-steel body. On some other cars the body was framed with wood and sheet metal was put over the wood frame. When the wood rotted, the sheet metal fell off.”
South’s 1928 Roadster cost $395 new. Today, his restored car is worth at least $27,000. He also owns a 1931 four-door slant windshield Model A.
He likes the cars for their beauty, and their history.
“The first Model A was delivered to Thomas Edison by Henry Ford,” he said. “But Edison returned it. It was a four-door sedan, and Edison wanted a Phaeton,” a four-door convertible.
Sporting only 40 horsepower, the Model A was no speed demon. But ask anyone in the local club, and they’ll tell you: She sure was a looker.
On the web
If you’re interested in joining the Plain Ol’ As Model A Ford Club, or for more information, go to www.plainolas.com.