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Old 12-27-2017, 04:03 PM   #1
wingski
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Default To a or not to a

When I bought my í29 cabriolet, I couldnít resist it because it was so beautiful. My wife and I fell in love with the wonderfully clean lines and beautful blue body on the car. And, that new tan canvas top with those Landau side bars was almost overwhelming. I liked that idea that it had oil pressure and water temperature gauges. However, Iím starting to wonder if I bit off more than I can chew. The more I work on my car, the more I realize how rare and unique it is. The amount of wood in the doors alone compared to a later cabriolet is amazing. Iím beginning to think that this car should only be owned by a restorer with plenty of money, plenty of climate controlled space, plenty of contacts to do specialty work, and plenty of contacts who really know and understand this first year of convertible for Ford.

I love the car, but originally I was going to buy a í29-í31 tudor with modern running gear and AC. I wanted a driver that I could take on trips in almost any kind of weather. I wanted a car that my wife could enjoy driving as well which means power steering, probably an automatic, and at least front disc brakes. Iím 74, and I didnít want a muscle-car, but would have loved to have a late model Ford four cylinder OHC as a power plant.

Iím beginning to feel that this cabriolet is too rare to be worked on by a garage mechanic like myself. The idea of an open top model A with roll-up windows was irresistable to me, but now I have doubts.

This Ď29 of mine is even rarer than most because it is Canadian made with Robertson screws everywhere, and no fender mounted spares, just one in the rear.

I have definetly found out that a rumble seat is made for someone a lot younger than I am.

What do you think?

Mike
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Old 12-27-2017, 04:10 PM   #2
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Well Mike I think you are skittish as hell. Are you thinking you don't deserve this car why not you really love it you're 70 years old it's time to start having as much fun as you can stand. If that means going on some runs with that car on a trailer so be it it's your car have fun with it if I have totally misinterpreted you are meaning sell the car it's not what you want but unfortunately how many times did we find you can't have your cake and eat it too.

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Old 12-27-2017, 04:42 PM   #3
Dick Carne
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Part of the appeal of an original Model A is that it is an antique, and although they are capable of driving long distances, they do perhaps require a different mindset than a lot of folks may be comfortable with; conversely, because of their age and relatively primitive mechanicals, most Model A owners will therefore more often than not elect to travel more back roads which in turn generally provide more panoramic views and more leisurely drives than most folks would get otherwise. And because they do have comparatively simple mechanicals, most folks are able to keep their cars running and on the roads themselves. Once you have accepted these differences, then the enjoyment of a more leisurely drive through less congested areas is one that might not otherwise be chosen with a more contemporary car, or with an antique with a somewhat contemporary running gear and/or drive components. To me, I personally enjoy driving the back roads and traveling at a slower pace that consequently allows me to take in more of the local scenery, and generally enjoy the trip much more than I might if I were to have driven a car with a more contemporary mechanical driveline along busier roads at a higher rate of speed. Furthermore, most other Model A hobbyists that I have had the privilege to meet and get to know, are some of the nicest folks that I could ever hope to claim as friends. While I think that this is largely the case with most "car guys", I still feel a closer and more caring personal connection with Model A folks. I doubt that I would have met a lot of these folks if I had a modified car.

As for the Cabriolet, the majority of these (68A & B) are indeed largely wooden body frames with sheet metal facings, similar to most fordors. Even the 68C (late 1931) has wooden body sills, door posts, seat surround, etc. But for an all-round tour/driving car, the Cabriolet may arguably have one of the best overall appeals for all seasons given the convertible top and roll-up windows. Over the years, I have been fortunate to have acquired a roadster, phaeton, Town Sedan, and recently a 68C Cabriolet. They each have their strong points, but it is my plan to restore the Cabriolet as more of a year-round tour car given those attributes I referenced above.

From your remarks, I wonder if one of the Shay roadsters from the late '70's/ early '80's might be a good alternative. Regardless, my best wishes to you as you consider your options.
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Old 12-27-2017, 05:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: To a or not to a

You could sell the Cabriolet and buy a very nice Shay with the money. There are several on Ebay right now.
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Old 12-27-2017, 05:28 PM   #5
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Default Re: To a or not to a

I have a friend of your age who looks forward for months each year to the time when he gets to hitch up his camper trailer behind his 1928 Chev (I hate using that word!!) and heading outback for a couple of months, usually driving somewhere is excess of 8 to 10 thousand miles. I've done lots of the same, though I am about 5 years younger and wouldn't think twice about doing again this year.
This is a poem written by a bush poet about 3 years ago about one of our trips. The voice is that of my wife. He makes a couple of very valid points about why we drive these cars. Have a listen to "Making Good Time":
http://hullyjoe.com/andrew-hull/projects/on-the-road/
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Old 12-27-2017, 05:39 PM   #6
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Default Re: To a or not to a

The cabriolet is unique when compared to the other A's, but that is only the body. If there is nothing wrong with it, that is do you have rotted wood now? If no then the body is likely to be fine for the next 100 years if it is kept inside.

As for the rest of the car it is just an A.

The biggest problem I see with the A's is a lack of understanding of how it was built and how to properly restore them. Sad as there is a ton of correct info if you just look. Personally I love getting to see the factory prints so I know I am building the chassis back to factory specs.

Quite frankly, if the driveline on the A if properly restored to factory specs (keep in mind I not talking Judging Standards but Ford original specs for fit) it is a VERY reliable car. It will just run for decades if you follow the proper oiling and drive it regularly. The mechanical brakes will just keep working.
My 65 Mustang has needed more work on the brakes then my brothers 31. The A has been on the road since 1970 and the Mustang since 1973 in our family.

Worry less drive more. Learn about how Ford put it together, stay away from most modern fixes as they are more trouble then the factory set up.
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Old 12-27-2017, 06:10 PM   #7
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Thank you, I really appreciate your comments. I think the biggest problem that Iím running into is this. As a kid, I was given a little information and left to do things on my own. Because of that I never develped good working with others skills. I had to do it own my own, and all the mistakes were mine and nobdy elseís. When I started working with others, it seemed that nobody wanted to take the blame for doing something wrong. I hated that and still do. A simple ďyes, I screwed upĒ instead of ďnot me, it had to be JoeĒ was an attitude that I ran into while working with others. Not always, but, by far, the majority of the time.

Iím a loner by choice. That blows my mind because I love to talk, I just donít love to be around people. You can tell by my long-winded texts that I have a lot to say. However, because of my horrible hearing and lack of patience, I am not the best listener, and my wife says Iím the worst passenger in the world.

Now, to the point. I live a long ways away from others in my model A club, and I donít and canít expect them to drive upteen miles to help me with something as easy as getting my model A started and running right. I am unable mentally to ask for help because Iíve done things on my own all my life. I donít know if itís ego or just stubborness that makes me that way, but thatís how I am and itís too late to change something as basic as that.

One of you commented that it sounded like I want to sell the cabriolet. No way! I would trade it for a tudor with modern running gear, but selling it is something Iím not sure I could do. I now have several vehicles that are not for sale because money canít buy them. They are worth more than money because of all the love and time I have invested in them. They are a major part of me, and Iíve made the mistake of letting things like that go in the past. I really miss my í55 MG TF 1500, my í34 Ford cabriolet, my í56 Austin Healy with the Corvette in it, and too many others to mention.

The thing that is bothering me the most is that I feel that my ď29 could have a better home. One where the owner is wealthy enough not to have to worry about the cost of a paint job. One where the owner loves all the weird things about a car that is really a prototype of what was to come. And one who doesnít bitch about not being able to get his feet into the car.

I donít know if any of this is helping any of you understand what Iím experiencing, but Iím trying my damnest to let you know and help me out if possible. Mike
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Old 12-27-2017, 06:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle View Post
You could sell the Cabriolet and buy a very nice Shay with the money. There are several on Ebay right now.
I don't think he would be happy with that. The Shay is too 'weird' looking in my eye. You will be happier staying 'original' that is the draw of these cars to begin with.

If you are worried about keeping a Cabriolet up, you can sell it and for the same money get a super nice Tudor Sedan that needs nothing. And probably for less money than what you get out of the Cabriolet. This may be the route for you to take.
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Old 12-27-2017, 06:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Hang the paint job! If the car is safe and reliable, just enjoy it now, even with its foibles. You’re its current custodian. The next custodian can make it perfect if he so wants. It doesn’t look to me like you’ve turned it into a wreck!!

I have a ‘28 Nash in my shed. I got it when I was 16, and I t’s been in pieces since 1980. When I retire in a year or two, I’m thinking I’ll just do what I need to do to get it together, reliable and safe again, and enjoy driving a piece of history in all its shabbiness. If the next guy wants to go all the way, that’ll be his choice. Meanwhile, it’s preserved.
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Old 12-27-2017, 06:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Hi Mike,

Here is my 2cents worth. Unfortunately, you won't get a 'modern driver train' Ina model a unless you take the body off and drop it onto a modern frame/chassis. You can have upgrades like AC, juice brakes and more power most of which can be removed if one wants to go back to stock.

If you are worried about the looks of the car, I have seen plenty of cars with not so good paint jobs. If you have problems we are here to help.

Mike
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Old 12-27-2017, 07:05 PM   #11
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Default Re: To a or not to a

I looked at several Shayís and decided that unless they made a tudor, it wasnít the right car for us. Why the hell didnít Shay make a tudor? It is such a beautiful design and so much more practical than an open car without roll-up windows.

I had a friend who had a bright red í29 tudor and that car looked so sharp, and so tiny with body and fenders in red. The only thing we didnít agree on was the rear spare. He didnít want it on the back of the car, and I thought the car didnít look complete without it.

He sold it, and that was when I realized that I had the A bug again. I should have bought it from him, but buying cars from friends is a good way to loose friends.

Mike
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Old 12-27-2017, 08:29 PM   #12
glenn in camino
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Buy Les Andrew's books so you can work on it yourself. Keep it and take good care of it. Model As are to be driven and enjoyed. Have fun.
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Old 12-27-2017, 09:11 PM   #13
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Default Re: To a or not to a

There are many Tudor street rods or resto-rods that would meet your desires for speed and comfort. I suggest you sell the Cab and begin a search for what you really want. When you find the Tudor you dream of, you'll have the dough and be ready to act and the Cab will be someone else's fun and worry.

Life is short, and getting shorter, especially at our age (I'm almost 73). A 65-year-old friend just had a stroke on Friday, which has seriously compromised his plans for the next decade. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. The time to do what we've always wanted to do is now, if we have all the necessary resources.
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Old 12-27-2017, 11:16 PM   #14
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Drive the car and have fun, a model a is kinda easy to work on if it breaks fix it, try not to worry about it and enjoy the ride!
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Old 12-28-2017, 02:35 AM   #15
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Default Re: To a or not to a

"To B or not to B", that is the question.
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Old 12-28-2017, 02:59 AM   #16
wingski
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Another reason why Iím starting to have doubts about the í29 cabriolet is the people that I grew up with are dropping like flies. Mentally I donít feel as old as my actual years, and life is still exciting most of the time. So, Iím beginning to think that the time that I spend on the cabriolet would be better spent working on something that I/we can drive year around while I still work on it.

I think it would be so cool to drive a really sharp looking A into our nearest city in the middle of a rainstorm or snowstorm. I only see these old cars being driven in nice weather, and I know why. It takes a lot of time and work to keep a sharp looking older car sharp looking. However, thatís the kind of stuff I love doing.

The night before last, I dreamed that I had a canary yellow PT cruiser that was oxidized. While I was in the grocery store, someone had rubbed out and waxed a round area about the size of a soft-ball right above the driverís door. I woke up frustrated as hell because I was not able to get the car home and finish rubbing it out and waxing it. Iíve never owned a PT cruiser and never really wanted to. Figure that one out.

I wasnít kidding about not being able to sell my í29. The only way for me to get rid of it would be to trade for something to take its place, but I donít know how to do that.

Any suggestions?

Mike
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Old 12-28-2017, 08:25 AM   #17
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Look for the Tudor you want, then if the seller won't trade cars, you trade your car for money, and then trade the money for the Tudor. This way you won't be selling your car, you are just doing a double trade.
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Old 12-28-2017, 04:37 PM   #18
Bill G
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Default Re: To a or not to a

Mike:

I think I detect a lot of pride of ownership in a truly fine machine, offset by a couple negatives. (1) a lot of maintenance (2) age issues with doing those repairs and maintenance (3) Wife not equally into it due to it being hard to drive and not all that comfortable (lack of ample heat or a/c)

Working on a car is a lot of fun, but if you are like me, my wife does not participate in that activity at all. Other than the very occasional "Hand me that screwdriver" sort of thing. If you are spending too much time in the shop and not enough time driving it, you may need to consider whether some of the tinkering activities are necessary, or you are doing them just for something to do. I really understand the "something to do" need. However, your wife may not.

If, on the other hand, the car has so much wrong with it that you can never hope to drive it, then you should consider trading it for something with a lower level of maintenance required.

As for the comfort, etc, there is very little you can do. Sure, you can put an air conditioner in it, but those are expensive and require a lot of installation work and take up a lot of room under the hood, and under the dash too. With that beautiful rag top, you could always put the top down.

As for harder to drive (for the wife), I guess it is part of owning a Model A. No matter what you do short of putting the body on a modern frame, you are stuck with what you have.

It is kind of hard to get our spouses to have the same dreams of car ownership as we do. If you want to just drive it, there are no rules in the book that say we have to fix or restore everything needing fixing or restoring right away. Take your time.

So, take it slow at restoring and do more drives. When the weather gets warmer, take your wife with you. My wife comes with me on probably about half my outings. I drive mine around just for the fun of driving it around, and I am way, way far away from it being restored. It is, however, drive-able and I make sure to do that every chance I get.

My wife did not want to drive it for the longest time because earlier this year she had shoulder surgery and was apprehensive about the stiffer steering. Once she got behind the wheel, and what started out to be a short drive turned into a lot longer session. She had no problems and liked it. But, like anyone else, she is not fond of the freezing cold even with the manifold heater, and one does not feel quite as safe on icy roads.

So, now look who is rambling and putting up a lengthy post.

Take care,
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Old 12-29-2017, 05:17 PM   #19
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Default Re: To a or not to a

The cabriolet has always been one I wanted and just picked this one up a couple of months ago. The wood is a challenge but did the sedan which is made by the same body company so the wood is very similar to the one I did. It is the only Model A convertible with roll-up windows!
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