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The “Batmobile”

Rob Messenger from the Model A Drivers of Central Ohio is attempting to resurrect this 1930 four door sedan in time to drive it to the National meet.

Mid May purchased with engine frozen and no brakes. .

My late father Lester

My late father, Lester, had me involved in Model A’s at a young age. As long as I could remember, he tinkered with a ’29 Roadster. Over the years, my brother and I helped assemble, paint, and eventually complete the little car with him. For some of the bigger jobs we couldn’t help with as kids, he relied on an old friend named Artie. Artie was a tough guy truck driver that looked every bit of the part. He was a “collector” of many things, some people now call it hoarding. For example, he had some kind of small switching locomotive in his driveway. Old box trucks on his property were loaded with motorcycle parts and literally tons of train memorabilia. He was single, answered to no one, and collected whatever he wanted.

Fast forward many years to 2008, and his health began to turn. He asked my father to help him sell off some of his things to pay for medical bills. We went down to his house in Elizabeth, NJ, and began to help take an inventory. About a week into this, I finally made my way into the detached garage. Lifting the doors just revealed more piles of old boxes and junk. But one thing stuck out and caught my eye. It appeared to look like the headlight bar and grill shell from a Model A! I went back and asked my father if Artie ever had an A. He said he remembered him having a pick-up, but that was 40 years ago. Digging a little deeper in the garage revealed this 1930 Pick-up. My father couldn’t believe he still had it, and neither did Artie…  It was pretty rough from being in a dirt floor garage in NJ. Humid summers, cold winters, leaky roof, you name it. But the little truck was complete and had good bones. A deal was made and I took the Pick-up home to my garage. Over the next several years we restored the truck to its current state.

I will never forget the fond memories Model A’s have brought me over the years. My father and Artie are now both gone, probably collecting junk somewhere up in the sky. Myself and my wife, Helen, create our own memories now in our A, and enjoy driving the truck to shows. We wave back to the pointing onlookers, many who have never seen a car this old running down the road.

Thank you, dad, and thank you Artie, for this great hobby.

Worth the Wait

1931 Roadster Restoration Takes 37 Years

By Karsen Palmer Price

Click on photo to enlarge.

Growing up with a body man as a father, my sister and I grew up watching cars come and go at our South Charlotte home. My father, Claude, worked by day for Toyota and by night for himself. He could fix anything, from totaled cars to rusty antiques, but he never kept anything for long.

One car never went on the chopping block — the restored 1930 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan that belonged to my grandfather. The car was like a member of the family. However, as most Model A lovers can attest, “You can’t have just one,” Claude says.

A member of the Queen City Model A Ford Club since 1973, Claude’s dream was to build a Roadster, “because they looked neat.” In 1976, fellow Club member Reid Robinson told him about two Roadster bodies that were for sale nearby. My dad appraised them, quickly realizing one was in better shape than the other. He bought both for $350, then stored the good body in my grandmother’s garage. He repaired the other and sold it for $700.

Over the next 30 years, Claude collected Roadster parts. The family joke was that he had an entire car stored in the attic!

In August 2007, at 62 years old, my father started on his dream project. “I decided I wasn’t getting any younger,” he jokes.

By this time, the good body he’d bought in ‘76 wasn’t so good. Every panel needed to be replaced or repaired, including the floor pans and rails. “I sandblasted the body and started cutting,” he says.

But then came a roadblock. In early 2008, Claude was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer and had a radical surgery. He was out of work for six weeks – the longest hiatus of his life. We weren’t sure he would live long enough to complete his dream build. He started back on the project that summer with a renewed focus.

In 2009, my dad decided to find out if the engine that had been sitting for 33 years would crank. My mom, Beth, and I watched as he hooked up a lawnmower gas tank to the engine, installed a battery, and turned the ignition switch. It ran like a champ! Mom put a video of the engine running – and my dad dancing happily – on YouTube.

Still working full-time, Claude devoted every extra minute to the Roadster. His grandson, Zach, and granddaughter, Peyton, helped with the car on weekends while visiting “Nana and Poopaw.” They learned to do light sanding and some assembly. I spot welded a quarter patch panel with my dad watching on, and my sister helped get the running gear in the garage, plus turned her hand to sanding. My mom photographed the car’s transformation along the way, helped with nuts and bolts work, and gracefully accepted being a “Roadster widow.”

When the body was ready, my dad took it to Town and Country Toyota, and asked painter Scott Williams to do the honors. The car was painted Bronson Yellow with Seal Brown trim, with orange wheels and pinstripe. Shue’s Auto Top and Trip installed the upholstery kit. Then came the installation of body to chassis.

In 2013, the Roadster finally was finished – 37 years after the first part was bought. The finished product contains parts from 21 different Model As, including an original 1931 N.C. license plate.

In 2014, my parents took the Roadster on its first overnight trip to Hendersonville, N.C. The car has since been driven all over North and South Carolina, and won second place at an AACA show at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sadly, my parents only had four years to enjoy the Roadster together. My mom died unexpectedly in 2017 from rare uterine cancer. Today, the Roadster is a cheerful spot in my dad’s garage, residing comfortably beside the Model A Sedan. And I can happy say that, as of this writing, my dad hasn’t decided to sell it … yet!

Click on photo to enlarge.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Click on photo to enlarge.


1930 Model A Sport Coupe

Click on photo to enlarge.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Click on photo to enlarge.

In 1959 my father who wanted an old car to drive, asked me if we should get a go-cart or a Model A. As a thirteen year old I had no idea what a Model A was but I knew it was bigger than a go-cart and I figured it would go faster. I said the Model A. We purchased it at the Standard Oil station on the corner of Maple and Telegraph in Birmingham, Michigan for $150. The same price as a go-cart. After a tune-up and a new vinyl top, we brought it home. My dad and I had no Idea how to fix the car, but he knew how to start and drive it. He gave me shifting and driving lessons in our driveway and in parking lots. I got some books and started working on the car. Occasionally I was able to fix things on the first try. The Model A got one of the garage spaces so my dad’s car sat outside.

I took my drivers test in the Sport Coupe in 1962 and began using the car as a daily driver. I found out shortly thereafter that my parents always knew where I had been. Their friends would report any time they saw the car parked at someone’s house.

After 50 years of ownership my dad confided in me that he thought we would keep it 2 to 3 years and sell it. I have had it to many of the National meets. The farthest meet I drove it to was in Branson, MO over a 4 day period. I still enjoy driving and fixing it.

Steve Burton

[email protected]