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first steps in rebuilding a 1932 model A


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Hey guys,

Me and my dad want to start working on his old model A. its a 1932 2 door coupe and we would like to get some help on starting up. should we start by taking the engine out and then removing the body from the chassis? also how much time and money did ya'll spend on your fords?

Thank you for your respone,


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If it is a Model A, (which should not be a 1932 Model), I would start by getting a handful of books on Model A's. All of the Model A Part suppliers have a number of books in their catalogs. There are several that would be helpful in providing the sort of direction that you are seeking. The answer to your last question will be very different for everybody, but it will probably be along the lines of "more of both than expected, but I don't want to talk about it."

Good luck.

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Get the books, then I would try to get her started with fresh oil , gas, water & etc. and see if the drivetrain works ok and the remove the body to play with the chassis and body. The chassis components can be accessed eisy after the body is off.

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Probably obvious but here are a couple more tips before you actually get rolling on a restoration -

Agree, getting it to run is a good idea, you can check out a lot from a couple test runs. What I would suggest here is that you look to find someone in your area with an "A" to assist. These are simple cars and most of the time one that has sat a while can be up and running in an afternoon. But here is the second reason you want to have assistance, unless your dad has driven the car, or another "A" - it would be really helpful if someone is available to show you how to start, drive and stop the car. I think this is covered elsewhere in this forum, while not complex, it will take a little getting used to. We can go over basics if you are interested.

Second, books & the forums are going to be huge help but you will benefit more by meeting some other "A"ers in person - most will gladly share knowledge and assistance. I would urge you to join at least one of the national clubs (most belong to both) and join the local chapter or region. Go onto MARC or MAFCA's web sites, and find the local contact, make a call and you will be welcomed.

If you are in CT call me or send an email.

Model As are a great first restoration choice - simple mechanicals - easy parts availibility - you can dissasemble the whole car right at home - great looks & value for the dollar - well worth getting into!!

Good luck with it & keep us posted on your progress!

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Doing a restoration requires hundreds of hours of time and a lot of money to do right.

I would like to point out the following comments are for restoring a car correctly to be safe to drive. Add significant more cost to make a high points show car.

First you have to understand what a Model A was when it came off the line in 1931. This also applies to a 1932.

Keep in mind what I have written up on my website my go against popular thought, please be ready to open your mind.

What a Model A would be when new.

Now the money part.

If you have a 1932 car than you have a much more valuable car, but the following applies. Consider this, if you have a 32 Ford coupe than you should be able to trade the car for a nicely finished Model A.

A 1931 coupe is a very common car. Restored cars can be bought for $8000 to $15,000. Frequently a restored car actually needs mechanical work to drive like new, but coupes can be found that are ready to drive in the above price range. A 32 Coupe can get into the $50,000 range real quick.

To do all the work yourself, with exception to plating, you will likely spend at least $15,000 to get to a car that drives like it came off the factory line. If you need to buy tools and you need to pay people to do work for you than that price quickly jumps. It can be time consuming to properly rebuild the car. You can figure several years of work if you are a busy person. It is very common for people to start tearing apart a car and then never get back to it. The family sells the car when the guy dies.

So how do I know about costs. Well it is easy, I am in the middle of a restoration. But it is not hard to figure out. Get some catalogs and do some math. Then add a lot for what you forgot.

My Car.

If you talk to someone that says it can be done cheaper ask some questions. If he did his car right he will tell you his brakes work great and he cruises 55 MPH all day long with a factory drive line. Most guys will tell you the brakes kind of work and the top speed is 45.

If the car is close to drivable you might be better off leaving it together and doing basic repairs to make the car safe to drive. Drive the car and take the time to have fun and get to know more about the car. Wait a year or two and then start a restoration.

Be sure to join the two national clubs and a local club. Buy books and read a lot, keep in mind there are errors in almost all the publications. There is a ton of free info on the web. The two active A forums are fordbarn.com and ahooga.com. If you search the archives of both boards you are likely to find the answers to most all of your questions.

If you have a 1932 Ford then I would recommend you consider selling the car. They are VERY desirable and costly to properly rebuild. The kind of cash they are bringing today will get you a nice Model A or slightly later Ford that is already restored. There are two types of 32 Ford coupes, the 3 window and the 5 window. If you have a 3 window coupe than you have a big dollar car. Either way you are in a different league from the Model A when it comes to value.

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CRR07, your car looks complete enough, and while it is always hard to tell in pictures not too rusty. The Tudor uses much less wood than many of the other style Model As - so you really should not have to concern yourself with complicated structural wood issues. The primary reason you may want to consider getting it running would be to see just what shape the drivetrain is in, although it looks like it has been a while since it has run judging by some of the detail in the pictures and the fact the tires are not only flat, but off the rim, etc.

You still may want to take a stab at it, but before doing anything I would remove the plugs and put a little Marvel oil in the cylinders. After a few days you can try to turn it if you have a crank or by putting tension on the fanbelt, although hand cranking would be much easier. Check the fluids - my guess is they will be nasty. This car looks like it would respond far better to a full restoration than a partial at this point, but again, you have a really good start.

Planning is the key here - try to go into it determining how far you want to go (driver vs. show, etc.) and set landmark goals so you stay interested. Also consider what you are comfortable doing yourselves vs. what you may want to send out. I personally have never seen any problem with balancing your own work against what makes sense to farm out.

In time, your car could look like the one '31Ford is showing off!

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