1931 Ford: The Model A Wooden Wagon

VERN PARKER
Motor Matters

When Henry Ford ended production of the Model T in the spring of 1927, the retooling for the new model took five months. Handsome new Model A Fords were introduced in December as 1928 models. During the next four years, 5 million Model A Fords were manufactured.

Later, wooden-bodied station wagons were offered for $695. Sales were less than spectacular, so the same vehicle in 1930 was priced at a reduced price. And by 1931 the station wagon base price had dropped to $625.

The Saukloud family of Boston purchased a 1931 Model A station wagon for their summer home. The annual summer trips began to decline during World War II. Neighbor Rod Amidon tried unsuccessfully to buy the old Ford several times during the 1950s, until his 1961 plea was finally successful and he was able to purchase the Ford for just $25!

Jeff Amidon, son of the new owner says, “the tires were shot and rats had gotten in the seats. It was towed to my grandfather’s barn.”

When the barn burned later that year the teenager pulled it to safety using a chain and his grandfather’s John Deere tractor. Now he had an interest in the old car. He sanded the maple posts and birch panels of the body and bleached the necessary parts before applying varnish.

Amidon left for college, then the Army, and the car went up on blocks with a good dose of antifreeze. While he was away, his father sold the car to an antique dealer in Connecticut with the right of first refusal if he ever wanted to sell.

Amidon got the telephone call in 1978. The Connecticut dealer wanted to sell the car and was honoring Amidon’s father’s right of refusal request.

Then Amidon got the Model A and went to work. He redid all seven side curtains, which usually are stored in a curtain box under the car. He refinished the basswood slats supporting the roof, as well as the rock maple header board. Next came a new roof and new black vinyl upholstery for the three rows of seats.

Somewhere along the line, the valves were ground in the 200-cubic-inch, four-cylinder engine. The black fenders are the originals, as is the rubber floor mat from the middle row of seats to the tailgate. The metal running boards are stamped with the original diamond tread pattern.

Besides the fenders, the only exterior parts of the car that are painted are forward of the windshield, in Manila brown paint. The Ford rolls on 4.50x19-inch black spoke wheels supporting a 103.5-inch wheelbase.

Amidon is proud to show the original tool bag with all the original wrenches. The original jack is under the front seat.

The old station wagon has mechanical brakes, which Amidon says, “I can’t ever get all four to pull together.” He says it’s best to double clutch when shifting the floor-mounted shifter. Amidon reports that the wooden body has been revarnished a few times over the years. “It’s a neat car to drive.”

Handsome new Model A Fords were introduced in December as 1928 models. Later wooden-bodied station wagons were offered for $695. Sales were less than spectacular, so the same vehicle in 1930 was priced at a reduced price. And by 1931 the station wagon base price had dropped to $625.