A long time dream comes true! My ‘new’ 82 years old Ford Model A

Ford Mod. A w. ATWATER KENT logo Emmanuel Riginos’ Ford Model A Tudor bearing the Atwater Kent radios logo. On the fender posing, his brother Alecos

Readers of my Blog may have seen a previous post titled: My next classic/veteran car investment? dating 11th May 2011. In that post I was sharing my desire to acquire one day a prewar classic and more specifically a Ford Model A, similar to a car that my father Emmanuel Riginos owned in the 1930’s in Athens, Greece.

Hence the famous line of Dr. Martin Luther King I have a dream seems befitting. This dream started many years ago when upon shuffling through old family photographs, I discovered few pictures of my Father’s car in the 1930’s. It was a Ford Model A Tudor.

I was looking at these pictures and was wondering about what kind of driving experiences, sounds, smells etc such a car would offer. Slowly the idea to obtain one day such a car settled in my mind. To boot, one evening at the PHILPA Club, Dimitri Vernardakis, our President, told me this: ‘Byron you ought to get yourself a prewar car’, an advise that was never forgotten.

The Car at the Classic Car Auctions premises in Canton Ohio awaiting shipment The Car at the Classic Motorcar Auctions premises in Canton Ohio awaiting shipment

Recently (Spring 2013) that dream became a reality. After an extended search in Europe and in the USA markets, with the help of few good friends, this particular example was found in Canton, Ohio, inspected, serviced and a deal to buy was concluded in mid April 2013. Soon after the car was loaded on a closed transport heading to New Jersey Container Terminal Port from where it was placed in a 20 Foot container and shipped to Piraeus. Of course I was in great anticipation to see and drive the old lady, as this acquisition marked the first time of buying a car from far away without having seen it up close myself…

Special thanks go to my good friends Alex Vazeos, an Etceterini cars collector and Myron Vernis of Glenmoor Gathering Concours d’Elegance who have been instrumental for my ‘Dream to Come True’; plus to my new friend Bob Lichty of Classic Motorcar Auctions who ‘pro-bono’ looked after all the details of the deal, the US title change, fund transfers, getting the car serviced and arranging shipment from Canton, Ohio to New Jersey!

The Model A is being loaded onto an enclosed car transport for the journey from Canton, Ohio to New Jersey Port The Model A is being loaded onto an enclosed car transport for the journey from Canton, Ohio to New Jersey Port
Loaded in the 20' container and secured for the transatlantic crossing Loaded in the 20′ container and secured for the transatlantic crossing

24th April update: The car was booked on the vessel ZIM Rio Grande 46E sailing on 10th May 13 and arrived in Piraeus on Saturday 1st June 2013; provided it would clear Greek customs in time, what a nice June 6th birthday present that would be!

The ZIM Rio Grande Contaner Vessel brought the car to me :) The ZIM Rio Grande Container Vessel brought the car to me! 🙂

June 7th update: finally chasing the delayed arrival or the US Title within the Kifissia Postal Sortation Office, on Friday June 7th the car, via the adept services of the PHILPA Customs Clearing Agent, namely Elias Athanasoulas [many thanks Elias, well done!], cleared the bureaucracy and the 20” Container was loaded on a trailer truck bed. Then it was taken to a nearby container depot, for placing the box on the ground, thus making the unloading procedure quite easy. The photos and the video clip capture these memorable moments and trace the car resting in company with other cars of my collection safely in my Garage.

IMG_8119 Unloading the Container from the semi-trailer
IMG_8121 The moment of truth! First glimpse of my much awaited ‘new’ car! Upon opening the container doors a distinctive ‘old American car’ smell oozed out. Immediately, the unfastening and chock removal procedure commenced.
IMG_8123 Behind the wheel for the first time: rolling the car out of the container
IMG_8129 Next task, loaded the car onto a transporter for taking her to my trusted mechanic John ‘Motorman’ Palmos for the first inspection and start-up
IMG_8131 On its way from Piraeus to the North of Athens; many hoots and thumbs up on the way 🙂
IMG_8154 My friend Robert Smith behind the wheel, taking her out for a first test drive after adjusting the advance timing

June 16th update: the FMA underwent a ‘crash detailing’ service undertaken by Mike Tsaltas of www.swell.gr in an effort to be ready for its first public appearance in Greece, participating in the Parade of the ‘2nd PHILPA TATOI CIRCUIT 2013” event. In between my good friend Robert Smith offered his knowledgeable services for adjusting the timing and expediting the car’s technical inspection for obtaining its ‘historic car’ FIVA card certification and license plates.

IMG_8162 Changing gears on a fully unsynchronized 82 year old gearbox requires ‘old car drivemanship’, a talent Robert has in abundance (owner of a 1918 Ford Model T among other prewar and classics).
IMG_8165 Mike ‘Swell’ Tsaltas doing his magic on the soiled rag-top
IMG_8169 At the same time a horde of accessories and spare parts sourced from Mac’s Antique Ford Parts are gradually being fitted, improving the car’s appearance and operation
IMG_8171 Part of the fun for many car collectors is the ‘deepening knowledge’ for the newly acquired model. Manuals, schematics, reference books, memorabilia etc help to enhance the experience…
IMG_8182 Mike’s assistant George ‘swelling’ the running boards
IMG_8183 Among the accessories, the Ford logoed headlight protective covers go well with the radiator stone guard option, to be proved useful when rallying 😉
Front radiator view with the stone guard, 'my b-d' bespoke license plate, and the Quail Motometer radiator cap Front radiator view with the stone guard, ‘my b-d’ bespoke license plate, and the PHILPA-Antique Car Club of Greece badge
Detail of the Quail Motometer radiator cap Detail of the Flying Quail with Motometer radiator cap
The RH engine bay after having been detailed The RH engine bay after having been detailed
IMG_8191 View of the LH engine bay after having been detailed
IMG_8192 The Data Patent and Body Number templates on the firewall indicating S/N 4558478, which means that this car was produced during May 1931
IMG_8195 The cabin of the Roadster after being swelled. The seat belts are a modern accessory but allowed by the Judging standards for safety reasons
IMG_8196 The pedal area after being swelled
IMG_8198 The dashboard after being swelled
IMG_8200 The frugal instrument panel of the Model A
IMG_8203 The dual side mounted spare wheels along with the cowl lights where part of the standard accessories for the Deluxe model B-40 version
IMG_8204 Side mounted spare wheel detail
IMG_8208 The RH license plate indicates the car model year
IMG_8209 The wire spoke wheels are fitted with a set of white wall tires
Detail of the side windwing mounts and top release butterfly
IMG_8216 Side view of the car after being swelled
IMG_8223 Front view of the car after being swelled
Side view of the car after being swelled Rear view of the car after being swelled

We made the race against the clock and the car did motor proudly and took its place among other historic vehicles, parading in front of thousand car loving spectators 🙂

CM0001 In good company with a 1934 MG PA at the ‘2nd PHILPA TATOI CIRCUIT 2013’ Parade
IMG_8448 In good company with a 1934 MG PA and a 1926 Chevrolet SK Tourer at the ‘2nd PHILPA TATOI CIRCUIT 2013’ Parade
image-2 Parading at the track of the ‘2nd PHILPA TATOI CIRCUIT 2013’

Next event: the ’42nd PHILPA International Rally’ in the Peloponnese during Sept. 2013.

My next classic/veteran car investment?

My father's Ford Model A Tudor ca. 1936 in Athens

Readers of my blog may have seen the page Cars & More where there is a mention of one of my father’s early cars of the mid thirties, namely a Ford Model A Tudor. I have this very photograph in a frame in our living room. Stricken with the flu these last few days, I was expelled from the master bedroom and spent several nights on the couch. My eyes kept looking at this picture and after a while the idea just clicked: wouldn’t be nice if I managed to get my hands on a Model A? Not only it would be the first pre-war car in the collection but I would sense and feel how my dad went about his daily business in the streets of Athens during the mid thirties! The more I pondered on the idea the more sense it made. A search on E-Bay and Hemmings revealed an adequate supply of these models in the vast American market. Dwelling deeper into Henry’s creations, soon enough I was convinced that a Roadster Model A would be more fun and appropriate for the dry, sunny weather of my Mediterranean country.  All these inputs being quite encouraging and inspiring, but was I really ready to shop from far away? Without seeing and test driving the prospective wheels? And then agonizing about shipment in a container by sea, plus going through the chores of clearing Greek customs upon landing and so on?

The answer to all these questions and concerns was a loud NO. But as it happens often in life, good fortune (or bad being just as easily present) came my way. By coincidence and circumstance I learned about a car collection being liquidated in Northern Greece. Soon enough a list of cars for sale appeared, among them one being a “1931 Ford”. Just that, no further details or even a picture was provided. With two other “gear-head” friends we flew bright and early to Thessaloniki on a Thursday of May 2011 aiming to examine several interesting examples. The suspense was mounting. Would that Ford be a Model A? And if so, which body type? The list of models good old Henry produced was endless:
Convertible Sedan (A-400)

My Dad's Ford Model A facing technical problems!

Business Coupe  or plain Coupe
Deluxe Coupe or Sport Coupe
Standard Coupe
Standard Fordor Sedan – Murray
Standard Fordor Sedan – Briggs
Deluxe Fordor Sedan – Murray
Deluxe Fordor Sedan – Briggs
Leatherback Fordor Sedan
Standard Fordor Sedan – Slant windshield
Mail Truck
Panel Truck
Phaeton 2-door
Phaeton 4-door
Deluxe Service Pickup
Roadster Pickup
Pickup
Deluxe Pickup
Standard Roadster
Deluxe Roadster
Sport Roadster
Station Wagon
Taxi Cab
Town Car
Town Car Delivery
Standard Tudor Sedan
Deluxe Tudor Sedan
Victoria
Wood Panel Delivery… Amen!

I controlled my curiosity, in a way similar to a kid who savors his sweet candy; after evaluating thoroughly two Mercedes cars (a 300d Cabriolet and a 220 SE Cabriolet, both of 1960 vintage), and not as yet having spotted any pre-war cars in the storage hall, I inquired about the old Ford’s whereabouts. ‘Aha! We have to go to the other hall in the back”, came the answer from the collector’s son who was escorting us that fine morning.

First glimpse of the 1931 Ford Mod A Roadster!

Lo and behold! A nice looking 1931 Ford Model A Roadster was positioned and resting on quatropod car stands. Exactly the body version I was thinking about including that fun adding rear rumble seat!  🙂 Controlling myself for yet another time, with my Mag-Lite in one hand and digital camera strapped on the neck, I started scrutinizing the veteran old lady quite thoroughly. An older restoration but a decent one. All parts there. Dual spare wheels with chained mirrors on them. Wind wing deflecting glass. Single Trico windshield wiper of the vacuum type. Vinyl brown color upholstery. Tidy engine bay. No radiator ornament but fitted with a stone guard, no trunk box in the back, no air filter in the Zenith carb. Clean undercarriage, some oil marks on the cement floor. Not the greatest color combination, but…

Could this be my next investment in fun and a ticket to ride on the Emmanuel Riginos family car sentiments lane? Possibly so; the coming days will reveal what the fate of this 80 year old Model A will be. Will she find a new home with abundant tender loving care? A new pampered life with many happy outings and several old car rallies?

These cars are simple and durable. All parts can be sourced.

P.S. in my recent College reunion trip to the USA, as I was driving through East Dennis in Cape Cod, I saw a beautiful Model A Tudor. Made a U-turn and snapped few pictures of this smartly restored car, exactly the model my Dad owned in the mid thirties!

The smartly restored Ford Mod. A Tudor encountered in Cape Cod-June 2011
1929 Ford Mod. A rear view, East Dennis, Cape Cod-June 2011
Nice front end look of the 1929 Ford Model A Tudor 🙂

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