Starting the Model A Ford


One of the biggest issues for those not familiar with the Model A Ford seems to be the starting procedure. There are many versions of this but here’s mine.

(Photo from

  • Make sure the car is neutral and the emergency brake is applied
  • Turn on the fuel tap under the dashboard on the right hand side
  • Set the spark advance lever on the left of the steering column to fully up (retarded)
  • Set the hand throttle to between 1/4 and 1/3 down the quadrant
  • Using the carburetor adjusting rod also on the left hand side of the dash you can choose to turn the rod one full turn to the left to richen the mixture when the engine is cold
  • Turn the ignition key to the on position (in my car also turn on the under hood kill switch)
  • Next pull back on the choke rod whilst pushing your foot down on the starter button with your right foot
  • As soon as the engine fires release the choke and set the spark advance halfway down the quadrant, reset the carburetor adjusting rod back one turn to the right once the engine is warm


This is what works for me all A’s are different and you’ll need to adapt and overcome a bit but you’ll soon get the hang of it!

Good instructional video here from Jack Bahm on YouTube

Original 1929 Model A Leatherback idling

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