Car Restoration Projects
‘A’ Family Heirloom
This car is one of the first Model As produced during 1928 by Ford in Australia and was bought by the current owner’s grandfather in 1929, when it was six months old. He gave it to his grandson Lynden Siegert when he was a 16-year-old in 1964.
The Ford Model A was the second successful vehicle model for the Ford Motor Company, replacing the venerable Model T, which had been produced for 18 years.
The first Model A to be produced at Ford’s new Rouge River Plant in Dearborn, Detroit – at the time the largest integrated factory in the world – was on October 20, 1927. However, the first cars didn’t go on-sale until December 2.
The all-new Model A was designated a 1928-year-model and was available in four standard colours. It was powered by Ford’s four-cylinder 201 cubic inch (3.3-litre) engine that developed 40hp (30kW), providing an advertised top speed of 65mph (105km/h). Retardation was via four-wheel, mechanically-operated drum brakes.
The Model A came with a choice of nine body styles, from the basic Tudor at US$500 to the prestige dual cowl Town Car, at US$1200.
By February 4, 1929, one-million Model As had been sold around the world and by July 24 of that year, sales had reached two million. In March 1930, Model A sales hit three million,
Production ran from late 1927 until August 1931 and total sales for the period tallied 4,320,446 units.
Model As were also assembled in Australia from mid-1928, at Ford’s then-new factory, at Geelong, in Victoria. Between 1928 and 1932 there were 32,387 Model As made in Australia and the best market penetration was 20 percent in its first year.
The water temperature gauge is a thermometer on the radiator’s cap.
The Australian release to the public was simultaneous in all capitals on May 15, 1928.
In Melbourne, a car was delivered to the Town Hall in secret at two in the morning. However, word had leaked out and thousands gathered to get a glimpse. Reportedly 100,000 people saw the all-new A during the following four days.
In Sydney, the debut was Wentworth Park, for a private viewing the night prior to the official release. Some 2700 people turned up, causing a traffic jam.
In Tasmania, the local Ford manager almost caused a riot when he dropped lit matches into the Model A’s fuel tank. He was demonstrating the virtues of the car’s explosion-proof fuel tank!
A Tudor Model A, similar to the one that motoring journalist J O Sherwood road-tested back in 1928.
On August 3, 1928, motoring journalist J O Sherwood of the Sydney Daily Guardian, road tested a Tudor bodied Model A and reported the following:
To sum up, the new Ford is exceptionally quick in its acceleration through the gears, is comfortable, has extraordinary hill climbing abilities, capable of maintaining a high average speed, has good brakes and is economical. Over a 106-mile test it averaged 35.3mph, returning 25mpg.
Lynden’s treasured Model A
Lynden’s family lived in rural South Australia. His grandfather had a saddlery and boot-making business in the town of Spalding, near his parents’ property north of the Clare Valley. The Model A was only driven to church on Sundays (sound familiar?) and it made the occasional trip to Adelaide’s CBD. The odometer shows only 89,893 genuine miles.
During 1964, the family, along with the treasured Model A, moved to greener pastures, having purchased a farm at Wagga Wagga, NSW. Lynden drove his generously gifted ‘new’ car in and around the Wagga district and also used it to compete in local motorkhanas.
By 1968 Lynden’s mother was keen for a sea-change, so, after an offer too good to refuse was accepted for the farm, the family moved to the NSW South Coast, in the Ulladulla area.
Of course, the inseparable Model A and Lynden relocated to the coast as well.
It was December 2, 2018, when we first set eyes on Lynden’s car – ironically, the same day in December, 91 years previously, that Ford’s Model A was officially on-sale.
Lynden couldn’t get the smile of his face when he took the old Ford for a drive.
“The old ‘Henry’ has never been completely dismantled for restoration,” said Lynden. “It’s only been repainted and reupholstered once.
“On the mechanical side, the engine had rings and bearings fitted in 1969 and was fully rebuilt during 1991.
“The gearbox and diff have also been reconditioned once.”
Then-septuagenarian Lynden said he would never part with his travelling companion of 54-years, saying, “She’ll stay in the family, as I intend to pass her on to my son once I’m too old to enjoy the ride.”