by Isis Quan
If you’ve been to one of our 1920s-themed events, such as Ticket to the Twenties, then you’ve probably spotted many old-fashioned coupes on site. One of the cars we’ve featured most at the Homestead is a Model A Ford, owned by our Collections Care volunteer, Patrick Utter. You may have seen him and his lovely wife Martha at one of our recent picnics playing games with visitors. Public Programs Assistant Isis Quan recently asked Patrick about his pride and joy, which you can see this Sunday at our final picnic event of 2017.
Patrick and Martha Utter with their Model A.
Isis: What kind of car do you own?
Patrick: I own a 1930 Model A Ford Coupe.
I: When were the Model As in production?
P: The Model As were built between 1928 and 1931. Over 5 million were made, mainly in Detroit, Michigan.
I: What was new and innovative about the Model A?
P: The Model A was a big advancement to the model T that was built in 1909 through 1928. Henry Ford made over 15 million model T’s in that time. The Model A had a 40-horse power engine compared to the T’s 20-horse power engine. The Model A also had a simple standard transmission compared to the model T, which had a complex planetary transmission.
There are currently 250,000 registered Model As.
I: What first got you interested in cars?
P: I started working on old cars when I was 14 years old. My first car was a 1950 Dodge Ram. It took me two years to make it roadworthy so I could drive it when I was 16. Then when I was 17 I bought a 1958 Ford Edsel, which I was able to fix. In 1998 I bought the 1930 Model A Coupe Ford. It took me almost a year to make it roadworthy. Then in 1999 I bought a 1930 Ford pickup, which my wife called “LEGO” because it was in pieces. It only took me four months to make it roadworthy.
I: How did you acquire your Model A?
P: In 1998, I purchased the car at an estate sale, when my grandmother’s neighbor passed away at the age of 98 in Ojai, California.
I: What kind of state was the car in when you first got ahold of it?
P: The Model A was in terrible shape because it had been out in the elements for many years.
I: How expensive was it to restore, and how long did it take you?
P: I paid $300 to have the car towed to our home by the Auto Club. I paid $2,500 for the car and another $7,000 to make it roadworthy. [It took] almost one year to restore.
I: How fast can the car go, and how many miles per gallon does it get?
P: The Model A can up to around 55 to 65 miles per hour compared to the Model T that can only go up to around 40 to 45 miles per hour. The car gets about 12 to 15 miles to the gallon and has an 11-gallon gas tank.
I: Does it need to get smog checked?
P: While it pollutes more than a modern car, the car has no smog system so there is no smog check.
I: What historical lesson can we learn from cars like this?
P: Having a historical car like the Model A makes you think how life was simple back then.
I: What are some big differences between driving the Model A versus a modern day car?
P: The biggest difference between modern and classic cars is there is no automatic transmission.
Model As came with no seat belts, no turn signals, and only one amber colored tail light.
I: What car organizations are you a part of?
P: I belong to two organizations, the Model A Restoration Club of San Gabriel and the Model A Ford Club of America. So, I am busy going to meetings and tours…which are lot of fun!