Model A show planned for October
ASHS Column for July 14, 2005
October 8 is the date for the Gulf Coast
Model A Club show at the J. H. Jones
Historic Park. We'll have live entertain-
ment: Dixieland jazz, bluegrass, and local
children's dance groups. There'll be barbe-
que plates, cold drinks, and just good
clean fun. Bring your lawn chairs and plan
for a great early Fall day in paradise.
Admission is free.
If you don't know about the park, the "J.
H. Jones Historic Park" is on Jefferson
Avenue, at the site of the E.A. Hauss
home and is where Century's first free-
standing post office now sits.
A "Model A" is a popular Ford auto-
mobile made between late 1927 and 1931. Thomas Adams of Century owned one (or was his a Model "T"?) and took several of us to a football game at Walnut Hill in the fifties. I don't remember the game, but I remember the great fun riding in that auto.
It had a truck bed on the back. On the way home, we went around a corner a little faster than we should. The body shifted and a tire started rubbing it. Thomas pulled over to an open space at a store south of the Bratt crossroads and we got out to push the body back so it wouldn't rub any more. The store was closed at that time of night, and I wonder if the folks living near heard us and were unsure about what we were doing. The building's still there; I think of that every time I pass that part of Hwy 99.
If you ever read the story of Henry Ford and his ubiquitous automobiles, you'll find he was a driven man (pun intended). He was convinced his was the best idea - and Ford latched onto that saying in commercials in recent years. I'm certain you've heard that "Ford has a better idea."
By the mid 1920's, sales of Henry Ford's Model T began to decline due to rising competition. By 1926, flagging sales of the Model T convinced Henry of what his son, Edsel, the president of Ford Motor Company, had been suggesting for some time: a new model was necessary.
Henry designed the engine, chassis, and other mechanical necessities, and Edsel developed the body design. The result was the highly successful Ford Model A. It was introduced December, 1927 and produced through 1931, with a total output of some four million automobiles.
Subsequently, the company adopted an annual model change system similar to that used by automakers today. While Henry felt the Model T was what the American public needed, the American public didn't agree. In the low-priced car market, Chevrolet was closing in on Ford's sales leadership, and Chrysler was ready to introduce its entry-level 1928 Plymouth. And while the new rival from Chrysler featured hydraulically-actuated brakes on all four wheels, Ford's Model T retained Henry's dogmatic concept that lever-operated brakes on just the rear wheels was sufficient. This alone may have been the determining factor for the change to the Model A, since several states were considering banning the Model T as too dangerous for "modern" traffic conditions.
One safety problem known to Ford engineers but that still made it into production was the location of the gas tank. It was actually the cowl of the car, located directly above the feet and legs of the driver and front seat passenger. A dangerous location, but not as much so as its immediate ancestor. In the Model T, the driver sat on the gas tank.
When Ford decided to stop Model T production, the development of its replacement hadn't been completed, much less the conversions necessary to mass-produce the new car. Aside from the production of replacement parts, Ford plants around the world were shut down and idled.
The conversion of tooling, production and supply lines, worker training and countless other needed changes must have been staggering. There were 36 Ford assembly plants in North America, and a dozen others around the world - they all had to be changed over at once. That Ford was able to pull it off speaks well of the company's determination - and luck. In all, the cost was some $250 million.
Finally on December 2, 1927, the "modern" Ford was offered for sale to the public. Hundreds of thousands of them survive today.
Seldon Pierce, member of the Gulf Coast Model A Club of Pensacola, told us they have over 100 members. Some families have more than one car (two families have more than five). The club was formed in 1997 and membership grows every year.
"Many of the cars and trucks are restored to like-new condition and, though some are older restorations, all run and are presentable. Many of the members tour each year and club president, Walt Fuller, has taken his 1929 roadster across most of the United States and plans a trip to Colorado later this year," according to Pierce.
Model A aficionados across the nation have owners who just love to drive their Model A. Others are into era fashions, some "AA" heavy iron, and still others are into era speed equipment. There are a number of owners across the country devoted to restoring and preserving their Model "A" exactly as Henry built it.
Believe it or not, they hunt for original parts: things such as original nuts and bolts, door bumpers, and grommets; even part specification changes during the Model "A" manufacturing process don't escape their careful eye. There are about 5,000 parts on the Model "A" and upwards of 90,000 engineering drawings in the archives.
You'll want to see what we're talking about October 8. If you wish to set up a vendor's tent or booth, you need to get in touch with us soon to reserve your space. Spaces are no cost to you, but room is limited.
Don't miss it!