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Old 09-02-2019, 11:28 AM   #1
Mulletwagon
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Default A Matter of $$

The question of how much comes up with every Model A purchase. Here is an interesting dilemma. Assume you are a good shade tree wrench bender but not a heavy maintenance or auto body mechanic. You are looking at two same version Model As. One is a barn find that has no rust, good wood, and is all complete but needs interior, paint, and a drive line rebuild. The other is clean, a great driver, and has a 10 year old resto, and needs nothing. The barn find is going for $4k while the resto asking is $18K. Which route would you go and why ?
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Old 09-02-2019, 11:37 AM   #2
BRENT in 10-uh-C
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Well to begin with, I am going to assume this is all hypothetical because there are very, -and I repeat VERY few barn-find Model-As with good wood in them. You are talking over 100 year old wood that has been dead nearly 90 years. In that scenario, it likely is dried and brittle and not very effective at doing what its intended purpose is.


Next, I would question the validity of a $18k Model-A that has a restoration that needs nothing. Most restos in the 'need nothing' category are in the $40k and up range. So with one at that $ figure, I would expect you will be spending more money on the restored vehicle to make it reliable.


But to play along with your questioning, I would guess it really boils down to YOU and your resources because the correct answer to your question changes from person to person. If you are a great casual mechanic but do not own a garage to work in, then the restored project is likely a better way to go. If you are a Dad with 3 school-aged kids, I doubt you have time to work on a project, -so the restored vehicle may be your better option. If you are retired on a small but steady fixed income with plenty of tools and a good garage to work out of, and ultimately you just need a project to keep you active, maybe the barn-find is the better option.


Why don't you give more specifics like the bodystyle you are looking at comparing.
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Old 09-02-2019, 11:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Unfortunately for those of us that currently own a Model A, the sales price for a typical Model A has been drifting down over the past few years. In my opinion, this is mostly due to the passing of those that wanted an A in their youth.
About 95% of the time, the total cost of restoring a car, (even as a driver not a show car), exceeds the cost of purchasing a complete car in a similar condition.
A 10 year old resto car today should be able to be bought for $13K to $15K, not $18K.
If you are 50 years old or older, I would buy the $18K resto for $15K. Life is short...…
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Old 09-02-2019, 11:48 AM   #4
Ernie Vitucci
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Good Morning...I agree with both answers above...for some the joy is in building the car and for others, the joy is driving the car...while I like to work on them, I love to drive them...Ernie in Arizona
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Old 09-02-2019, 11:55 AM   #5
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Depends on your skills, how much time you have available to work on it, and if you enjoy working on it. Also what you will use it for. For occasional short hops, or for longer trips/touring.


The Barn Find can quickly turn into to a complete resto, or at least a lot of work/cash returning it to marginal running condition. Easy to spend a lot more than the vehicle is worth, especially if having to have the work done, not doing it yourself. Things like a motor rebuild, bad gas tank,, etc can quickly add up to a lot of cash/labor. A lot of unknowns. Interiors also can be very expensive with a lot of labor.


The other A depending on the model, seems to me priced high. At the very least would want to run a compression check on it and a few mechanical checks, check out the gas tank.


Having myself resuscitated a truck that sat for 50 years - learned a lot, spent 2-3x what it is worth to make it reliable to get it to be a daily driver, not for show. If me would see if I can get the 18K price down and buy that one.
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Old 09-02-2019, 11:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

If you see the restoration process as entertainment, then finding a rust free A for 4K would be just what you are looking for. You will have far more in it than you will be able to get out of it (especially if you can't do body work and paint), but you'll have lots of fun in the process, you'll learn a lot, and you'll meet some great people. It is also sort of a "time payment plan" to get to a finished car.

If you aren't passionate about doing the work yourself, your interest in finishing the restoration will dwindle and the project will eventually be abandoned and sold for a dime on the dollar that you have spent (a car torn apart for restoration is essentially worthless).

Buying a finished car is the least expensive way to having a finished car....but you miss out on a lot of the fun that way. . Keep in mind, that even buying a finished car, it will not be an "investment". When it comes time to sell it, prices will have likely further declined.
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Old 09-02-2019, 12:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Best thing ever did was buy an older restored model A coupe. Have put 10,000 miles on it in two years and never looked back. My car was represented well, hats off to the seller.
I always wanted a Model A, looked my wife in the eye, manned up and said I am buying a Model A. My search began. What I did, emailed all the presidents of the Model A clubs in our state describing what I wanted and asked if they would forward my email to their club members.
1) a car in good condition
2) no rust
3) not a show car
I received four replies from various club members. The first one I went to look at I bought, it was exactly what I was looking for. Straight body, no rust, engine rebuilt, brakes rebuilt and from 20 feet looked perfect.
I am not a mechanic by any means, how ever can to small things with the car ie. oil change grease ie it, adjust carb etc. I bought it for $9100
DO NOT BE IN A HURRY TO BUY, join a club as that is where the knowledge is and people knowing who has what car for sale.
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Old 09-02-2019, 12:17 PM   #8
Ernie Vitucci
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Wow! GerryAllen is on the ball! Ernie in Arizona
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Old 09-02-2019, 12:35 PM   #9
BRENT in 10-uh-C
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Quote:
Originally Posted by AGBill View Post
Unfortunately for those of us that currently own a Model A, the sales price for a typical Model A has been drifting down over the past few years. In my opinion, this is mostly due to the passing of those that wanted an A in their youth.
About 95% of the time, the total cost of restoring a car, (even as a driver not a show car), exceeds the cost of purchasing a complete car in a similar condition.
A 10 year old resto car today should be able to be bought for $13K to $15K, not $18K.
If you are 50 years old or older, I would buy the $18K resto for $15K. Life is short...

I must respectfully disagree with much of this.


To begin with, I have been around this hobby for all my life of nearly 60 years. In all 6 of those decades, the price overall for Model-As has increased over the prices found 10 years prior. The prices today reflect this same basic increase over what they were 10 years ago. Secondly, the generation that owned & drove Model-As in their youth have passed by for more than several decades now, however there have been buyers since those times for Model-As and continues to be, -so it is NOT the passing of those people that have affected sales.


The brutal reality is that most Model-As that are surfacing on the market today are absolute junk, -and the prices reflects that. From my perspective, Model-A hobbyists during the last decade or so have jumped on this excuse that they only want a driver-level car, and as such they are cobbling together stuff and choosing not to restore/repair it correctly. Therefore what they have is a pretty, well-worn used car.


In this day & time with the resources (parts, knowledge, etc.) that we have easily available to us, there should be no reason on this planet why every Model-A being driven shouldn't be able to stop quickly, start reliably, steer safely, and get you to and from your destination without ever needing to lift the hood or put a wrench on it. The issue is most Model-As that have been 'restored' over the last few decades have had poor craftsmanship along with the "it'll do" mindset on re-using worn parts, and buyers today are much more educated and know what to look at. Therefore the buyers know they are going to spend a great deal of money re-restoring the 'restored' car, therefore the sales prices reflects the true condition. A Model-A has always been, -and will continue to be a great entry-level collector car that has great appeal. The prices will always reflect that.
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Old 09-02-2019, 12:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Well said Brent. It all comes down to what you want and what your willing to spend. Your interest in learning about the car and repairing it. I've been in this hobby almost as long as Brent and I'm still learning things about repairing Model A's. To me that's part of the fun.
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Old 09-02-2019, 12:48 PM   #11
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

What Brent is referencing, and has been discussed before on FB, is the term "restored" is/has been used loosely to describe everything between professionally frame off nut/bolt restoration to factory or better specs (as Brent does), to a poor repair and cosmetic freshening.


So if only asking 18K, most likely the vehicle has not been truly restored in the strictest definition. If the work is a freshening/repair with perhaps a motor/brake rebuild and perhaps a body on repaint - dependent on the quality and model of the vehicle 10 -18k is within reason.
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Old 09-02-2019, 01:03 PM   #12
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Quote:
Originally Posted by BRENT in 10-uh-C View Post
I must respectfully disagree with much of this.


To begin with, I have been around this hobby for all my life of nearly 60 years. In all 6 of those decades, the price overall for Model-As has increased over the prices found 10 years prior. The prices today reflect this same basic increase over what they were 10 years ago. Secondly, the generation that owned & drove Model-As in their youth have passed by for more than several decades now, however there have been buyers since those times for Model-As and continues to be, -so it is NOT the passing of those people that have affected sales.


The brutal reality is that most Model-As that are surfacing on the market today are absolute junk, -and the prices reflects that. From my perspective, Model-A hobbyists during the last decade or so have jumped on this excuse that they only want a driver-level car, and as such they are cobbling together stuff and choosing not to restore/repair it correctly. Therefore what they have is a pretty, well-worn used car.


In this day & time with the resources (parts, knowledge, etc.) that we have easily available to us, there should be no reason on this planet why every Model-A being driven shouldn't be able to stop quickly, start reliably, steer safely, and get you to and from your destination without ever needing to lift the hood or put a wrench on it. The issue is most Model-As that have been 'restored' over the last few decades have had poor craftsmanship along with the "it'll do" mindset on re-using worn parts, and buyers today are much more educated and know what to look at. Therefore the buyers know they are going to spend a great deal of money re-restoring the 'restored' car, therefore the sales prices reflects the true condition. A Model-A has always been, -and will continue to be a great entry-level collector car that has great appeal. The prices will always reflect that.
I agree 100%. Model As are great and there are many in the younger generation that love them to. Enjoy.
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Old 09-02-2019, 01:04 PM   #13
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

I often wonder about the mindset of the man who restored my coupe in the mid-'80s. He passed away before I bought it, so I'll never know. As I work my way through the car, I constantly come across compromise decisions made in the original restoration. But I feel like I can't say whether to ascribe it to "poor craftsmanship" or to the genuine limitations of resources that someone doing a restoration in that time period (and not in a car-culture center like California) would have encountered. I know for a fact that he spent $30,000 (in today's dollars) restoring it, and had the engine and body professionally redone, so it would seem like cost was not a significant obstacle. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But to the point of Brent's post, I agree that when I bought it I lowballed the price specifically to account for the re-restoration I knew I'd have to do, even though it appeared to be in great shape from the proverbial 20 feet away.
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Old 09-02-2019, 01:07 PM   #14
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

At my age, 77? I'd spend the 18K
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Old 09-02-2019, 01:26 PM   #15
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

im 35 years old here. I would go for the 4k. that's pretty much where I started. But it was given to me. I have sewed my own interior rather than an expensive 2500 for a fordor interior kit. Im probably 3k into my car. I rework what parts I can. I have gas shocks over stipes for the savings. I figure even the nicest show level examples will ride like the car did in 1930. Its a little tractorish compared to a modern car. And that's what makes them great. If you dont enjoy working on it buy the expensive one. The 4k will need near everything tightened up re-bushed rerubbered regreased or replaced. remember these are just 90 year old used cars until they are brought up to snuff or in show cars, beyond snuff.


I describe my car as a driver. people ask "what are your plans for it,restore it?" I look them in the eye and say this is the lowest worth model A model. Its worth 7.5-10k as it sits, fully restored its worth 12.5-15k and that would cost 15-20k. What would you do?

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Old 09-02-2019, 01:31 PM   #16
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

The resto.

engine rebuild $5,000
Interior (+top) $2500
Paint plus supplies $3500+ (paint, primers, cleaners, thinners, fillers, sandpaper) assuming you have the guns
Tires, tubes $600
Brakes (parts to rebuild plus drums) $ $900+
Misc. penetrating fluids, rust removers, welting $350
Steering, fuel tank cleaning? Assuming the tranny and rear end is good or add a few grand more.

4,000 car
12,350 parts

16,350 could be more assuming body style rag tops increase the cost significantly due to fabric and tacking strips

Do you figure in how long to complete as opposed to get in and drive?

For 18K the restoration would have to be really top-notch.
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Old 09-02-2019, 02:11 PM   #17
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

Last winter had Motor rebuilt/adjustable tappets added, rebuilt shift tower, clutch rebuilt, minor kit (seals, etc.) on trans, new u-joint/etc in torque tube, differential changed from 4.11 to 3.54 gearing, seals/bearings/etc, cast drums added and new shoes/woven linings on brakes, new bergs radiator, a few other misc. things done. Done last winter by a model a shop- - 22K$. Car was inherited - free. Truck is a daily driver now, but no longer worry about what's next to go wrong syndrome, now confident if I want to take a trip - no worries. Spent previous 6 years of constant issues - took the fun out of it.
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Old 09-02-2019, 04:30 PM   #18
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

I was going to comment about the pitfalls of this conversation from over 60 years of working and restoring vehicles, but many good points have already been made. The piece of advice I will give is contact some of the quality Model A restorers, and ask what they have or know about for sale. Many times the circumstances of a Model A owner changes and often the first person they contact for the sale of their vehicle is the shop that restored/ worked on it. Best of luck..


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Old 09-02-2019, 09:48 PM   #19
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

I see a lot of what I call Ice Cream restorations, looks really nice on the outside but lacks any real work on the running gear, they were used to go get ice cream, local car show or maybe the town parade.

If they are selling the car as restored/rebuilt ask for proof and if it can't be supplied read the cost of rebuilding that was posted above, because that is what you might find with the restored car with no back up proof, or you might get lucky. If you can get someone that knows a little or lot about them, have them go with you.
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:10 PM   #20
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Default Re: A Matter of $$

All depends,I enjoy the solitude and trials of the shop as much as driving the car. I rather not spend 15 grand buying something I don't know.rather build it myself.After 42 years in the trade I still enjoy learning new things..
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