1931 Slant Window Town Sedan (MY LAST MODEL “A”)
by Bob Bagby
As the 50th anniversary of our club approaches, I have been asked to reflect on the history of our club, and since Phil Ierardi said I had been allotted 500 words, I thought I would include a personal profile.
I was born and educated in Randolph County Missouri, 35 miles north of Columbia Missouri. When I graduated High School in 1943, World War II was in progress and I spent the next three years in the Army Air Force in a B-29 Unit in the South Pacific. From 1946-1948, I went to theDecember 5, 2013 12:46 PMrcraft Company and worked there till I retired in May 1986. My wife and I were married in 1948 and have been married 59 years. We have two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
I had several Model A's in high school. In 1953 I bought a 1930 Standard Roadster from the original owner with original paint, upholstery, top, side curtains and tool pouch. I heard of the National M.A.R.C. club and decided we needed a local chapter. I don't remember how we got together ten guys with like-minds, but we did, and the Missouri Valley Region M.A.R.C. resulted. The organizational meeting took place in my new 24'x24' detached garage.
The monthly meetings were held at member's homes – a bonus, because we could include a garage tour. Terry Oberer was not old enough to drive, so his mother brought him to the meetings in a beautiful Triumph TR-7 sports car.
An observation: fifty years ago, you could get parts from other club members, swap meets, and some "new old stock" parts from old Ford dealers, and the price was reasonable. Today: you can get any replacement part you need but the cost is astronomical.
Seven people from St. Louis attended the national M.A.R.C. meet in Lake Forest Illinois in 1961, including Terry Oberer, David Hargraves and myself. Terry's 1929 Coupe was pushing water out the radiator overflow and we had to stop every 30 miles and add two gallons of water. When we pulled on to the toll road at Chicago, the elderly toll taker said "sonny, you know the minimum speed on the toll way is 40 miles per hour." Little did he know I was driving my 1934 Ford pickup with the 283 cubic inch Chevy Engine.
In the 60's, Wally Nutter, of Kirkwood, donated a 1929 Tudor which the club restored, sold raffle tickets, and cleared about $800.00. The club treasury had never been more than $150.00 prior to this. We had several picnics at Blanchett Park in St. Charles. Car games, good food and I think on one occasion, we had 30 Model “A” car's in attendance, including one from Iowa.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the preservation and restoration of our "Model A's" through the years. My vision for the club: Another fifty years of growth and success!
Saga of a Sport Coupe
by David Hargraves
Model “A” Fords often become entwined in our lives. So, the half century saga of a certain Sport Coupe in the life of my wife, Karen, and me isn't unusual. As a young summer employee of the Museum of Transport in the 1950's, I was fascinated with the ancient chain-drive Mack trucks we still used. The sound of a big bore, slow turning engine, and spark and throttle controls on the steering column, prepared me to fall in love with a Model “A” Ford.
My dad helped me find a Model “A” to use for commuting to engineering classes at Washington University. In the spring of 1958, we found a 1929 Sport Coupe in Illinois farm country near the town where he grew up. It was in red primer and had 73,000 miles. I bought it for $275 and drove it 110 miles home, crossing Eads Bridge at about 11 PM. That summer the car was painted black and I rebuilt the brakes, shackles and kingpins.
About this time, Terry Oberer, a few others, and I met in Bob Bagby’s garage in North County to found the Missouri Valley Region. Terry was working on a 1928 Special Coupe which he was not yet old enough to drive.
The “A” was my only transportation for four years. It served me every day, taking me to school and on Saturday night dates with Karen. There were highway trips to Cape Girardeau to visit Karen at college. The “A” ran great, but blew a quart of oil out the rear main about every 60 miles.
One afternoon, while driving Karen home after work, the “A” blew the head gasket between cylinders. Fortunately, I had an extra gasket, and after nursing the car home, the gasket was changed after dinner. The “A” took me to school the next morning.
After graduation, Karen and I married, and the “A” was stored in my aunt’s old barn in Illinois where it was guarded by a large black rat snake. There were never any mice in those seat cushions!
In the 1960’s we bought a tiny house with a two car garage, and the “A” came home. An off-frame restoration took over six years, slowed by life's distractions. The car was driven and shown often the next several years. In winter, it became the traditional hiding place for our daughter’s Christmas presents.
Upon retirement, I hoped to have more time to play with the “A”, but I seem to be spending it restoring our 1947 model house. Yes, it's the same tiny house with two car garage from so long ago.
The restoration of the “A” is now older than the car was when I got it, but it still looks good and runs well. Now our granddaughter rides in it. One day, it will be time to say goodbye and I hope it will find a good home. After all, we’ve come a long way together.
The Model “A”s in my life
by Terry Oberer
When I was just 15, a Model “A” Ford turned my head and my life took a new road. Today, 48 years later, my heart still belongs to the Ford classic. It was 1958 and I was a freshman attending Kirkwood High School, when I helped a friend put an engine in a Model “A”. an event that made a lasting impression. I fell in love with the sound of it and I just had to own that sound. Owning that sound involved cutting grass all summer for 25 cents an hour, (I cut a lot of grass). For the sum of $150 though, I was able to buy a ’29 Model “A” Coupe that ran (barely), and I have owned at least one Model “A” ever since. Now at 63, my enthusiasm for the Model “A” remains undaunted. There is a certain honesty about the car. Everything has a function and it’s all very straightforward. The Model “A” has real integrity.
In 1958, several St. Louis area Model “A” enthusiasts, including current Missouri Valley Region members Bob Bagby, Dave Hargraves and I met in Bob’s garage and started a St. Louis Model “A” Ford club. I was 15 at the time and my Mother or Brother drove me to the meetings. In 1961, we became a region of the national “Model “A” Restorers Club” (MARC), which was founded in 1952 to assist its members in preserving and restoring the Model “A” Ford. We called our region “The Missouri Valley Region” and represent the Model “A” Ford enthusiasts in the St. Louis metro area.
My current and long-term project is a 1930 Tudor purchased in February of 1979 as a bare bones hulk. I had at that time my faithful green ’29 Roadster and had decided that I also wanted a closed car. The Tudor body was rough with considerable sill rust out. I replaced the sills, several panels, and all the wood but still the body did not satisfy me. I located a better one and sold the original one. I have never been one for bodywork so, lately I have enlisted the help of Larry Dames to remove dents and shrink metal. Now I’m ready to replace a few lower panels and am anxious to install the wood I purchased in 1990. I used the 2005 April membership meeting as a push to force me to get the running gear fully assembled. I used it as a seminar to demonstrate how to assemble a complete running and drivable chassis with the help of 3 local members and 3 members of the Chicago area Napier “A”s. It is a great excuse to attend swap meets to find parts to make it “more original” every day. After 27 years “in process”, I think it is high time I get it all together. I’d like to have the body ready for paint by next summer and maybe have it on the road by 2008 for my 50th year of membership in the National MARC.
I love sharing the knowledge I’ve gained over the years with my fellow club members and I want to pass it on to as many as will care to learn. I fell in love with the integrity of the Model “A” and I’ve been hooked on it ever since. The Model “A” has been responsible for many wonderful friendships in my life.