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Projects What to look for when buying a Model A Roadster

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by J.Ukrop, Jun 24, 2020.

  1. Corn Fed
    Joined: May 16, 2002
    Posts: 2,975

    Corn Fed

    As far as reselling parts, those welled front fenders are going to be hard to sell. 30 years ago they woulda brought big bucks, but now nobody wants them. I literally sold one for $10 at the last swap meet just to get rid of it. They don't stack with standard fenders and aren't worth the effort to convert.
  2. That looks like
    One of the guys in the car club I was in had a '32 roadster that was channeled. It was one of the best looking cars I had ever seen. He was making a beer run from a car club picnic and asked if I wanted to go with him. One 5 mile drive was enough. Probably the most uncomfortable car I had ever ridden in. No way would I want to own it after a 5 mile drive. I an 5' 8" by the way.

    My AVATAR started as a restored car similar to what you are looking at. It now has a 181 cubic inch Mercruiser Marine engine and I am very happy with it. Could stand to be lowered a little and bent spoke Kelsey wheels with big and little tires.

    Final thought, that car would look better on deuce rails. We are getting to a point that not much of the original car is going to be used.

    Charlie Stephens
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  3. sloppy jalopies
    Joined: Jun 29, 2015
    Posts: 4,717

    sloppy jalopies

    '30-'31 roadster doors are 24", front to back,
    many a well fed guy has opted for a coupester, 27.5" doors...
    recently did a roadsterly truck cab, used truck doors,29.25"
  4. low down A
    Joined: Feb 6, 2009
    Posts: 337

    low down A

    so your going to build a car just like this one only totally different
    chryslerfan55 and J.Ukrop like this.
  5. louisb
    Joined: Oct 13, 2008
    Posts: 1,043


    Mine came in a box. :D Not original but no rust either.

    IMG_20180511_111012.jpg IMG_20180511_131725.jpg


    warbird1, The37Kid, mgermca and 3 others like this.
  6. Charlie....if you can - what year of issue do you think that one is ? Looks like a low #.......
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  7. flatford39
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 2,789


    I would be interested in the interior if you purchase that roadster and decide not to use it.
  8. Good luck....good advice from those that know. In my search I either found the car but had no money to buy when looking for a roadster to build since the 80's. Ran across the Cabriolet complete at a good price so that's where I'm at with a runner I'm not moving to fast on. me and the cabroliet first day .JPG
  9. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,596

    Atwater Mike

    Nice looking Cabriolet, 'Runners!
    1955, My first one was a '30 Cabriolet, I channeled it over '32 rails. Its cockpit length was not quite as forgiving as I had anticipated; I was 5'10 then, 2 years later I grew to 6 feet. Sat on 2" of foam under the tuck and roll, but still looked over the stock windshield. Really should have left the body atop those beautiful '32 rails!

    I outgrew my Cabriolet, but bought a friend's '32 Five window coupe. More room, and still a hot rod after I sold the fenders...
  10. Big Art Branum in the HEMI32 Coupe (circa early '70s).jpg
    (the late) Art Branum "sitting" in our channeled 5wd Coupe
  11. Sorry for the confusion, I blurred out 3 digits between the 19 and the CA. The tag was from about 1971.

    Charlie Stephens
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  12. SR100
    Joined: Nov 26, 2013
    Posts: 932


    That looks like a 70s resto. The dry heat that helps preserve sheet metal plays havoc on upholstery. If its dry (and vinyl does dry), its only good for patterns.
  13. wheeldog57
    Joined: Dec 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,988


    Good luck today!!!
  14. chiro
    Joined: Jun 23, 2008
    Posts: 926


    Good luck Joe. I'm hoping it's everything you WISH it to be and still can get the owner to drop his price some. Best of both worlds. Hah!
  15. 51504bat
    Joined: May 22, 2010
    Posts: 2,758


    It's Saturday after 8:30 west coast time. Any updates or are you still unloading the trailer?
  16. Gary Addcox
    Joined: Aug 28, 2009
    Posts: 2,417

    Gary Addcox

    By all means, take a magnet with you and carefully check all around the body from the reveal on the very bottom to the beltline. A weak magnet is perfect since it will tend to fall when in contact with heavy "mud". You should be able to find a rodder in CA who will accompany you and is familiar with old bodies and what to look for. Good luck in your endeavor.
    loudbang likes this.
  17. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,752

    Staff Member

    Hi everyone, yesterday was quite the day. It's been a busy weekend so I'll type up the full report later tonight. In short, the car wasn't everything it should have been for the price. I passed on it—more details and photos to come.
    loudbang, mgermca, SR100 and 2 others like this.
  18. There he is!
    loudbang likes this.
  19. hotrodrhp
    Joined: Sep 19, 2008
    Posts: 323

    from Wisconsin

    Mud will be mud... on a project car unless it's in horendous condition there are plenty of replacement panels to make it right if you have the time, skills, desire and funds .Not saying you shouldn't look for unmolested car but "Cherry" metal on a 90 year old cars are virtual musuem pieces and are priced accordingly. My 30 roadster came out of dry Texas and looked relatively rust free, that is until I blasted it. I was looking for a project so no big deal for me. Sold off excess parts to offset costs. That's how this game is played I guess.
    loudbang and low down A like this.
  20. Whenever buying a Model A, be sure to check under the hood to be sure someone didn't sneak a SBC in there.
    SEAAIRE354, loudbang and hotrodjack33 like this.
  21. HelmuthBrothers
    Joined: Oct 11, 2007
    Posts: 720

    from New Jersey

    So excited to see you on the hunt for a project car. I know whatever you build is going to be amazing. If we were closer together I'd be happy to help you out in any way possible. I too was looking for a complete car for the longest time to have basically a little bit of everything. I couldn't find anything that I was really happy with, so as you most likely know from my coupe I started from the ground-up. I bought a 32 chassis from SoCal off a fellow hamb member locally, started buying all of the suspension and brakes, wheels and tires, and before you knew it I had a completely rolling chassis with no body haha. I couldn't come close to affording a 32 body in any shape or form, so I once again started looking at Model A's. Roadster / Coupes / Pickups I didn't care. All I knew was that it was going to be on a brand new rolling 32 chassis. After a few months of looking around on craigslist, eBay, and the hamb, I came across a 33 pickup cab locally and it ended up being one of my dads local friends who frequently buys and sells all things hot-rod related. I went to check out the 33 cab and it needed WAY more metal work than I was comfortable taking on. Sitting right next to the cab was a 30 coupe body on a wooden pallet under a blue tarp. I asked what the story was with that, and he said he had just purchased it from the Ford Barn and it was the nicest coupe body he had ever found. AKA it wasn't for sale as was to be a project for him. He let me look at it anyway, and god damn it was rock solid. No mud. No rot. Still had the original glass in it. Original bench seat and dash was still in it. Doors shut perfectly even though it was sitting on a piece of wood. Needed a decklid and some wheel wells (I had to remove those anyway to put it on a 32 chassis), but it came with the original NJ title. After about a month of working on him he finally sold it to me for a few hundred bucks over what he paid for it and REALLY hooked me up. The rest is completely documented on my build thread, but what I would suggest is don't be afraid to do what I did. Possibly start from the ground-up and build the nicest, simplest, cleanest chassis you can, and find a body later on. You can stick multiple bodies on an A frame, or a 32 frame. Building my car that way really helped me learn the in's-and-out's of building a nice chassis and understanding how everything works that you don't see. It allowed me to take my time and focus on a little bit at a time instead of having a complete car sitting in front of me that needed all different things done to it. With Model A's the possibilities are endless.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  22. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,063


    Quick easy answer is to call BROOKVILLE and buy a body and frame from them, you'll save a ton of money starting with good stuff. Bob
  23. gonzo
    Joined: Dec 24, 2003
    Posts: 1,796


    Hot rods are like boats, the only difference between a 6,000 dollar boat and a 600 dollar boat is that the 6,000 dollar boat hasn't broken yet.
    Better to find an abandoned project than a nice running original IMO.
    rbrewer and The37Kid like this.
  24. Ianjaylights
    Joined: Jan 20, 2012
    Posts: 67


    I’m thinking of selling mine. I can message you with information.

    692BAD41-9205-412F-AFEF-EC565D0938FA.jpeg 31F645DC-4A30-4588-86C2-07346F8F584A.jpeg 4C3CDF51-0F9A-44EE-B043-2302A8B34B02.jpeg
  25. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,752

    Staff Member

    Following up, I'll include what I posted on my other thread here:

    I'm hard at work on the next issue of Rodder's Journal, but here's the scoop.

    Saturday was one of the most fun days I've had in a long time. Me, my girlfriend, my good pal Yama and his dog hit the road around 10 a.m. Although it was foggy in San Francisco, we drove the winding roads south and ended up near Santa Cruz by noon. We made arrangements to meet the owner at a park.

    When we finally pulled into the right lot, we spotted the roadster and our jaws collectively dropped. Seeing pictures and videos is one thing, but being in the presence of such a neat old car is hard to explain. You guys know the feeling. After introducing ourselves, I asked if I could start tapping and magnet-ing. The owner said go right ahead. So we did.

    It wasn't long before I discovered that this car was rougher than expected. My tapping made me realize that there was a fair amount of bondo, and the passenger side quarter panel was the worst of it. The car was leaking fuel, leaking oil and Yama and I realized that the two bolts attaching the wishbone were barely finger-tight. Not a good sign.

    We took it for a test drive and although it brought us down the road just fine, there was some unsettling clattering coming from the engine compartment. The owner told me that he thought it may have been normal. Yama and I were skeptical. When I drove it, the starter motor wouldn't disengage, which wasn't a good sign either.

    When it was all said and done, I respectfully declined and thanked the owner for letting me check it out. For the price he was asking, it would have to have been a pretty nice car. This could be a good project for the right person, but not for me at this time.

    We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the park, enjoying burgers and root beer floats from A&W, and then hitting a neat thrift store and grocery store on the way home. Like I said, a damn good day. No complaints here.

    Thank you for everyone who helped! I'm excited that even though this one didn't work out, the search is on. I have some good leads that I'm investigating. And now for some pics...

    IMG_3660.jpg IMG_3678.jpg IMG_9060.jpg IMG_9061.jpg IMG_9062.jpg
  26. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 16,852


    For future reference of other Model A Searchers, how about posting the price he was asking?
    The37Kid likes this.
  27. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,063



    I'll never understand how some people can't sand mud and decide to paint stuff that looks like this. Sure isn't rocket science.

    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  28. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 21,403


    I am 6’2 and I have a channeled A roadster. It’s not bad.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  29. VI Lonewolf
    Joined: Sep 2, 2017
    Posts: 11

    VI Lonewolf

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