One of the drawbacks of nearly any successful product is that it will eventually need to be redesigned or completely replaced at some point. Changing public tastes, advancements in technology, and increased competition all contribute to this constant need to evolve. For Henry Ford, evolution was not something he particularly cared for. By the mid-1920s, his Model T and its production methods had already proven to be among the most significant inventions of the twentieth century, with sales approaching fifteen million units. Ford was one of the most powerful industrialists in the world, and yet he seemed resistant to changing what had proven to work so well. As the T soldiered on, competition from General Motors gradually eroded Ford sales. It was only when sales slumped drastically, and dealers sounded alarms that Henry Ford finally warmed to the idea of a follow-up act for the venerable Model T.
The new Model A’s design incorporated many of the same fundamental principles which the Model T pioneered. Ford’s Design for Manufacturability ethos meant the Model A was equally as efficient to build as the T, while still able to accommodate greater customizable options and features that buyers demanded. Mechanically, the Model A represented a vast improvement over the T. Power came from a 201 cubic inch, water-cooled L-head inline four. At 40hp, it was nearly twice as powerful as the T. Gone was the complex planetary gearbox with its levers and pedals, replaced by a 3-speed sliding gear transmission with conventional three-pedal controls for throttle, four-wheel brakes, and clutch. The chassis was tuned for better handling and ride quality, braking was vastly improved, and the car was capable of topping out at 65 miles per hour.
Nearly as important was Henry Ford’s relenting to his son Edsel when it came to the looks of the new car. The elder Ford had a certain disdain for the frivolities of cosmetic appearance, so he turned the task of styling the new car to his son. Interestingly, Edsel had a gift for aesthetics, and he used his experience with Lincoln to design a handsome and modern car that was on par with trends set by the competition. Simultaneously the end of one era and the beginning of another, the Ford Model A was a resounding success, selling over four-million examples between the 1928 and 1931 model years. Today as it was then, the Model A is affordable, delightful to drive and easy to service, and it remains a cornerstone of the collector car hobby, with tremendous popularity and support the world over.
Given the Ford Model A’s popularity with hobbyists, restored examples are not difficult to find. That said, it is extremely rare to find a Model A that is as well-sorted and fabulous to drive as this outstanding 1929 Standard 5-Window Coupe. This simple and elegant Model A is one of the best driving, thoroughly sorted examples we have ever had the pleasure to offer, beautifully restored with great attention paid to performance and usability. We appreciate the purity of this Standard model, with a trunk in place of a rumble seat, monotone black paint, black wall tires, and single rear-mounted spare. The lack of frivolous accessories highlights Edsel Ford’s inherently pretty design. The quality of the paintwork on this car is outstanding, with excellent reflections and straight body panels. Subtle gray pinstripes adorn the body and detailing includes excellent brightwork on the bumpers, radiator shell, and factory “Twolite” headlamps.
The two-place cabin is cozy yet comfortable, properly restored using high-quality, period correct fabrics. The upholstery quality is excellent and consistent with the overall quality of this outstanding Model A. Luxury isn’t a priority, but the cabin has a certain charm in its simplicity. The previous owner adapted a subtle yet highly effective LED brake light in the rear window, in the interest of safety. The light also features an integrated turn-signal function operated by the toggle on the gear lever. Amazingly, hardly a squeak or rattle is heard when driving this A, which is a true testament to the level of care put into the restoration.
Professionally rebuilt by a Model A specialist, the 201 cubic inch four-cylinder has a host of internal upgrades for added power and reliability. It starts with fantastic ease and runs smoothly, thanks to the balanced rotating assembly with updated pistons. Larger valves improve breathing, and a lightened V8 flywheel and clutch assembly significantly reduce effort and further enhance drivability. The gearbox was rebuilt along with the engine, and it shifts remarkably well for a non-synchro ‘box, feeling slick and rewarding to operate. The engine, gearbox, brakes, and chassis have all been exquisitely dialed-in to make this Model A the most exceptional driver we have experienced. Despite the internal modifications, the engine has an honest, period-correct look. Components such as the exhaust manifold show signs of regular use and the same can be said for the undercarriage and suspension, which is tidy and appropriately detailed.
The Ford Model A’s simple charm and approachable nature continue to draw enthusiasts the world over. We are very impressed by this example’s exceptional mechanical condition and beautiful cosmetic presentation. This remarkable Model A is on-the-button and ready to delight its next keeper with many pleasurable miles.