The incredible thing about this 1931 Ford Model AA listed for sale on Hemmings.com isn’t so much the fact that it was built as a crewcab with a tilting flatbed to haul around the included Model A speedster, rather that it hasn’t been given the typical tweed-and-small-block street-rod treatment. Instead, it features an interior that looks like it largely came from the LeBaron-Bonney catalog and a built Model A four-cylinder engine. True, the engine grunts the truck and the speedster along with the help of a modern transmission and updated chassis, but this certainly wasn’t the easy solution to building a hauler. The dually tires on the speedster in some of the pictures in the listing point to the same out-of-the-box thinking that created the hauler, making it a suitable passenger along for the ride. From the seller’s description:
Truck, Speedster, and both Engines built by Ron Kelley (RK Designs)
1931 Super AA Ford Truck. Long wheelbase with addition 36” added to length. Stock rear axle with highway gears 5.17 to 1. Late model new process 5 speed transmission. 5th is 20 percent overdrive. Stock mechanical brakes with mustang brake booster. Front axle stock. Steering box 1956 Ford truck. “Fordor” truck cab build with truck cab parts. Truck bed built with tilt and rollback feature similar to late model wrecker. Lots of storage for spare tire and parts under bed. 12 volt electrical system. A/C with R134 Freon. Model A block with billet girdle and billet 5 main crankshaft and billet rods. Steve Serr cylinder head. Custom intake and exhaust. 2 BBL Rochester carburetor. GM HEI Ignition system. Engine is full pressure with filter. Too many small details to list. Must see to appreciate.
1929 Model A Ford Speedster. Custom Body. Custom Ignition System. Flathead – Custom Valve Seat Design. Stroked Crankshaft. 2 Carbs. Stock Chassis
I noticed recently that baquets like this 1929 Durant Rugby were starting to show up in the Hemmings Classifieds. I’ve been aware of them for a few years now and it’s exciting they seem to finally be showing up in the U.S. market.
What’s a baquet, you say? Well, it literally means “bucket” or “tub” in a few different romance languages, but the connotation is pretty far from the kinds of cars those words conjure in English. Near as I can determine, the baquet style comes from Argentina (not coincidentally, home of those top-notch Pur Sang replicas of pre-war Bugatti and Alfa Romeo icons) and emulates the kind of rough-and-ready speedster build that was popular there in the 1930s, about the time that Grand Prix legend Juan Manuel Fangio was getting his start in a Model A baquet temporarily built from a borrowed Buenos Aries taxi.
The modern baquets are in exactly that spirit of making something glamorous and romantic out of something decidedly utilitarian. That’s fitting, as the Rugby line was actually the export nameplate for the car known in the United States as the Star—a mass-produced, low-priced competitor to the Ford Model T from 1922 to 1927. It never built the kind of volume it needed to go head to head with Ford but was a moderate success most notable for being part of GM-founder Billy Durant’s third (and final) venture into automaking.
Somebody else owned the Star brand in Great Britain, so suitable “Rugby” radiator badges were worked up and the product went forth under an assumed name. There was a Star Six (and corresponding Rugby Six), starting in 1926, when the Star was advertised as “the world’s lowest-price six,” and it looked a lot like the Four but with a 40-hp flathead six and accompanying longer hood. In the final two years of production, 1928 and 1929, there was no Star to use as a basis, so instead Durant’s Star replacement the Durant 4 was slipped behind the Rugby badge.
That brings us to this “1929” Rugby for sale in the Netherlands (but, says the ad, shipped “to our New Jersey warehouse” for $1,800 plus a 3-percent import duty). They don’t say it, but I virtually guarantee this car came from Argentina where it ran or was constructed to emulate the cars that run in that country’s Mille Miglia Rally through the rugged landscape of Patagonia. I put 1929 in quotes because it’s a speedster and perhaps does a good emulating of what a Rugby-based speedster built in 1929 might have looked like, but from the start (literally, the radiator) it looks more like a the original, 1924-‘27 Star-based Rugbies, rather than the Durant-based Rugby of 1928-‘29.
The Model A has an early Ford juice brake setup rather than Henry’s original mechanical system. The car is exhibiting a bit of a brake pull under heavy braking and left front brake drum is a little scored.
I was given a drum a while back that is marked “cracked” so decided to investigate condition.
The drum has been stored in the shed for quite a while, so being cast it’s a bit rusty
Had a go at cleaning up and removing the majority of the rust
What seems to be the original wheel bearings seem to be still in place and in good shape.
Part numbers appear to be visible on the drum
Next step will be to run the drum up on a lathe to further clean the braking surface and check for cracks. But so far so good
Appearance is one thing, but to take inspiration from the days of gow jobs and dry lakes racing means careful parts selection, and this 1929 Ford Model A roadster pickup listed for sale on Hemmings.com benefited from obviously intentional and thoroughly thought-out design and engineering, from the built Ford flathead four-cylinder engine to the chassis featuring un-split wishbones. With very few concessions to modernity like the chromed alternator, all it really needs to complete its mission of appearing like a Thirties dry lakes racer is a good dusting of fine silt, applied at a speed somewhere north of 100 mph. From the seller’s description
Museum quality restoration and build of a Model A hot rod as it might have appeared at the California dry lakes racing scene in the 1930’s. Engine is an H&H rebuilt engine with full pressure oil system, balanced crank, engine sleeved to stock bore. H&H recommended camshaft with dual Stromberg 97’s on new Thomas intake manifold. Thomas polished aluminum head, Mallory ignition, full length coated headers, electric fuel pump and 12v alternator. Probably makes about 100hp. Transmission is Mitchel internals with synchros and 1st and 2nd gear ratios about 15% higher (Sort of like Lincoln Zepher gears behind a flathead V8). The rear end is 3.54:1 for freeway cruising speeds. Wheels are 16in powder coated 1936 wires with Coker Firestone type “cookie cutter” tires, shaved, balanced and indexed for each axle and position. Has a cast dummy quick-change cover; looks great but non functional. Brakes are 1940 Ford hydraulics, with alloy air scoops on front wheels. Interior and tonneau cover is Mercedes style Hartz material. Feels like cloth, lasts like steel. No top (we don’t need no stinking top). Body is original with some Brookville reproduction pieces. Paint is hardened, flat black with striping and paint details by “Styles.” No disappointments, unique period hot rod with 1400 mi since built.
As part of the installation of the Scalded Dog manifold and Stromberg 97 Carb my friend Austen at Ozcraft made the throttle link you can see in the pictures above from Charlie Yapp’s plan. The link bolts to the manifold, but had a habit of coming loose and if tightened too much the throttle action would be very stiff. So, the link was drilled out a bush added along with a locknut behind the link. This allows the link to turn freely meaning the action was far more acceptable.
After doing some research some of the symptoms of the poor running issues seemed to point to vapour locking problems
As you can see above steps were taken to add some extra heat shielding to try and combat the suspected cause of the issues. The shielding was added to the recently replaced fuel lines and additionally the electric fuel pump.
After a couple of reasonably long runs, the problem was still occurring so onto the next remedy!
After some research on the excellent HAMB forum I started to suspect the “helmet” air filter, by all accounts these are quite restrictive especially the element aspect which on some examples can at lawn mower level! So, the decision was take to revert back to the air scoop type filter that was installed when the carb and manifold were fitted. The “helmet” filter was a vanity purchase!
After one run with no air filter and a few longer runs with the scoop in facing forward mode all seems OK. So fingers crossed that the carb has now got a decent amount of air and the problem is solved.
The Ford Model A’s good looks and low price of admission attracted millions of buyers before and after World War II. In later postwar years, those same qualities made the A one of the world’s most popular collector cars.
As a restoration project, you can’t beat a Model A: They’re simple, they’re supported by a vast network of specialists, and parts are widely available. That’s why hobbyists fixed ’em up decades ago and why many of those same Model A’s are being restored a second or third time by hobbyists today.
Bruce LeFebvre, the owner/restorer of this month’s stunning Bonnie Gray and Chelsea Blue 1929 Model A Standard Coupe, is a history buff and had always admired the Model A’s styling. “They look cool,” he says. “And Henry Ford was a fascinating character who really put America on wheels.”
Bruce wasn’t what you would call a Model A expert when he started shopping for one of his own about a decade ago, but over the course of this project, he gained a lot of knowledge.
“I didn’t know my ass from my elbow about Model A’s, but I knew I wanted one,” he says. “I saw one online located in a town called Peculiar, Missouri—so I bought it for $6,500, then my friend Roger Parrott and I spent almost 10 days going out and back to get it.”
Bruce’s reasonably priced, online auction fi nd was a nice-looking car, though maybe a little worn and in need of attention. It had already been converted to hydraulic brakes —a selling point and something which would’ve been on Bruce’s to-do list anyway. Outside, the car wore aged green paint and inside there was what looked like water stains on the upholstery. Some fresh interior pieces, some paint, and some general sprucing should have brought it back to like-new condition — or so Bruce thought. But once back at his shop in Connecticut, a teardown revealed a lot of hidden rust, wood rot, and some hasty body repairs, too.
“When I first saw the car, it didn’t look bad at all,” Bruce says. “But once we started taking it apart—we took the headliner out, the seats out, and the side panels —you could see it was packed with body filler and there was haphazard fiberglass work that looked like bandages holding it together