I still couldn't legally drive, but I had a Model A. It was black with red wheels, with a soiled interior of scratchy grey floral fabric. The horn was missing as was one of the window cranks. Someone welded diamond-pressed sheet steel to the fenders to act as running boards. I didn't care as I didn't know any better. Knowledge would come much later. For now, there was a Model A in the garage next to a 1965 Chevrolet Impala convertible, my dad's last fling with a ragtop car. And a caveat: I had to learn how to drive and get a license before I could drive the Model A on the road. But all that winter I would go in the garage and start the car to let it warm up and keep the engine from freezing. It was Nirvana, if you didn't mind the smell.
During my senior year, the Model A would venture out after school and on weekends with five classmates in tow. We were squeaky-clean honor students, a world apart from the trendy fast kids who made out in the backs of their pickup trucks and sneaked cigarettes on the side of the school building. Or were we just nuts, teenagers driving around in a thirty-eight-year-old car that rattled and shook as it ran down the road? That's when I learned there were no shocks, either. But it was all pleasure for me and when when I graduated from High School, my parents ordered a LeBaron Bonney interior kit as a graduation present. I spent that summer meticulously installing the upholstery. The horn had been replaced and shiny new door handles and window cranks were ordered from that candy store of auto parts, J.C. Whitney.
Life, and automobiles, carried on. Like my dad, I parted with the Tudor sedan, leaving a void that broke my heart. But I needed the money and I didn't have a place for the car after a cross-country move. Basic living expenses overruled any chance of replacing the car. It was a luxury I could not afford.
Over the years, other car owners asked me to help them with interiors or installing their tops. I had been sewing since age 16, professionally since age 21, but in the home furnishings field. I also had a talent that allowed me to look at something and, somehow, my mind immediately formulated how it was made and installed. What I didn't know, I learned. In a pre-digital, pre-You Tube era, experience became your best asset. At least, if I didn't have a car, I enjoyed working on other's.
By this time, I was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota and when my dad passed-away, my mom felt my one consolation would be finding another Model A. We looked at quite a few cars, narrowly missing-out on a 1931 Coupe I really liked after being stuck in traffic en route to the seller's house.
I joined the Twin CIties Model A Ford Club, and at the first meeting, stood up and introduced myself when the moderator asked for newcomers. I told them I didn't have a car, but was hoping to find one. After the meeting, a member approached me to say he had a car he needed to sell. Many years earlier, he purchased a 1929 Coupe with the intention of restoring it. It was parked in a rented garage, but the landlady had passed-away and the car needed to be moved.
What can I say? It was rough and that's being kind. The tires were hard as concrete. Absolutely no interior, just bare rusty springs and the remnants of the original roller shade strangely-intact above the rear window. How did the shade survive when nothing else remained? Not a speck of paint left. The garage floor was plainly-visible when you opened the trunk. And a piece of sheet metal covered the roof opening.
As the saying goes, the rest is history. I was enthralled with the story of the car: it was originally-purchased by a traveling salesman who ordered the car with a trunk and its spare tire on the passenger side so it would be out of the way. Several years later, as I undertook the restoration, the matching frame and engine numbers revealed it was manufactured at the Highland Park Ford Plant