Download video: 1930 Ford Model A T-Bucket Hot Rod-D&M Motorsports Video Walk Around and Review with Chris Moran
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The Ford Model A of 1927--1931 (also colloquially called the A-Model Ford or the A, and A-bone among rodders and customizers) was the second huge success for the Ford Motor Company, after its predecessor, the Model T. First produced on October 20, 1927, but not sold until December 2, it replaced the venerable Model T, which had been produced for 18 years. This new Model A (a previous model had used the name in 1903--1904) was designated as a 1927 model and was available in four standard colors, but not black.
By 4 February 1929, one million Model As had been sold, and by 24 July, two million. The range of body styles ran from the Tudor at US$500 (in grey, green, or black) to the Town Car with a dual cowl at US$1200. In March 1930, A sales hit three million, and there were nine body styles available.
The Model A was produced through 1931. When production ended in March, 1932, there were 4,849,340 Model As made in all styles. Its successor was the Model B, which featured an updated 4-cylinder engine, followed by the Model 18 which introduced Ford's new Flathead V8 engine.
Prices for the Model A ranged from US$385 for a roadster to $1400 for the top-of-the-line Town Car. The engine was a water-cooled L-head 4-cylinder with a displacement of 201 cu in (3.3 l). This engine provided 40 horsepower (30 kW). Typical fuel consumption was between 25 and 30 mpg (U.S.) (8 to 12 kilometres per litre or 8-9 L/100 km) using a Zenith one-barrel up-draft carburetor,with a top speed of around 65 mph (104 km/h). It had a 103.5 in (2,630 mm) wheelbase with a final drive ratio of 3.77:1. The transmission was a 3-speed sliding gear manual unit with a 1-speed reverse. The Model A had 4-wheel mechanical drum brakes. The 1930 and 1931 editions came with stainless steel radiator cowling and headlamp housings.
The Model A came in a wide variety of styles: Coupe (Standard and Deluxe), Business Coupe, Sport Coupe, Roadster Coupe (Standard and Deluxe), Convertible Cabriolet, Convertible Sedan, Phaeton (Standard and Deluxe), Tudor Sedan(Standard and Deluxe), Town Car, Fordor (2-window) (Standard and Deluxe), Fordor (3-window) (Standard and Deluxe), Victoria, Station Wagon, Taxicab, Truck, and Commercial.
The Model A was the first Ford to use the standard set of driver controls with conventional clutch and brake pedals; throttle and gearshift. Previous Ford models used controls that had become uncommon to drivers of other makes. The Model A's fuel tank was located in the cowl, between the engine compartment's fire wall and the dash panel. It had a visual fuel gauge, and the fuel flowed to the carburetor by gravity. In cooler climates, owners could purchase an aftermarket cast iron unit to place over the exhaust manifold to provide heat to the cab. A small door provided adjustment of the amount of hot air entering the cab. Model A was the first car to have safety glass in the windshield.
The Soviet company GAZ, which started as a cooperation between Ford and the Soviet Union, made a licensed version of the Model A from 1932-1936. This itself was the basis for the FAI and BA-20 armored car, which saw use as scout vehicles in the early stages of World War II.
In addition to the United States, Ford made the Model A in plants in Argentina, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
In Europe, where cars were taxed according to engine size, Ford equipped the Ford Model A with a 2,033 cc motor providing a claimed output of just 40 hp. However, the engine size was still large enough to equate to a fiscal horsepower rating of 24 hp and attracted a punitive annual car tax levy of £24 in the UK and similar penalties in other principal European markets, leaving the car unable to compete in the newly developing mass market. It therefore was expensive to own and too heavy and thirsty to achieve volume sales, but also too crude to compete as a luxury product. European manufactured Model As failed to achieve the sales success in Europe that would greet their smaller successor on the assembly lines in England and Germany.
Historical context of Model A development