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1931 Model A Question?


Zephyr3789

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Hello,

I have found a one owner Model A that was inherited by family members from their Father. They are now interested in selling the car and I would like to buy it.

My question is, can someone tell me where the numbers are located on the engine and car to make sure they are matching? Can someone also tell me what I need to look for to make sure the car has not been modified in anyway?

I am not too familiar with Model A's so any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

Rich

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Where are you located? Perhaps someone near you who is familiar with Model A's can look at the car and offer you some advice. Now, the answer to your question is that the serial number of the car is the engine number. It is on the driver's side of the engine. The only other serial number on the car is on the left frame rail (which is covered by the body).

It is possible to check the engine number to see if the production date appears to match the year of the car, but Model A's aren't really "numbers matching" types of cars. There are several books that can help you learn more about Model A's.

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Thank you for the information! I am located in West Covina, Ca about 30min East of Los Angeles. I know you said, that they aren't really numbers matching type cars. So does that mean that the frame serial number does not match the engine serial number in any way?

Is it true that there is also production information stamped on the cowl gas tank or is that only for older Model A's?

Also, can you tell me where the engine numbers can be run to check production dates?

The guy doesn't really have any proof that the car is a one owner car so I'm hopping I can find it some other way. The title should also have the original date of the sale, right?

Sorry for all of the questions. I am just trying to get myself educated fast so I don't lose out on the car, and at the same time don't spend a lot of money for something that isn't really fact!

Thanks Again!

Rich

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When originally produced, the engine number was stamped on the engine upon it passing the final inspection. When the engine was dropped into a chassis, the engine number was stamped on the frame rail. The body was later dropped onto the chassis (so that you can not see the number without removal of the body.)

Engine production number information is found here:

MAFCA - Engine Production

Assuming the car was originally purchased by the current owner in the current state, it might possibly have a title showing the original purchase date. They may have other documentation, such as the original sales invoice, or other data.

Often in a car this old, the engine will have been replaced, so the engine may or may not have the original serial number as listed on the title. Many states issue an updated title showing engine changes, I have no idea about your state.

I am in North Carolina, so I can't help you in person. MAFCA is headquartered in your state. Feel free to ask any questions here, but MAFCA probably has a lot of members in your area. An experienced Model A guy can take a look at the car and give you some good guidance. Value ranges for a Model A depend on a lot of factors. Good luck.

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Thank you Hinson, from what I have been told. The car has been sitting in a garage for over 40 years and has never been messed with! Apparently, the Father new it was going to be in storage so he sprayed the car with seven coats of lacquer to preserve the body and then covered the car and it has been sitting every since.

I'm going to see it tomorrow, I will take some pictures! Maybe you guys can help me confirm everything that has been said.

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ewing,

I am on the Vintage Tour and away from my books, but by memory I would say, that the engine number was stamped on the frame about even with the pedals, so that when the cowl was lowered onto the frame, it covers up the number.

Zephyr3789, I look forward to seeing the photos. It sounds like an interesting project.

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It is very difficult to determine how "original" an A is today. Some cars are on their 3 or 4 restoration and cars restored 40 years ago in 1970 could be confused with an untouched original.

When the A was produced, the engine number was the legal VIN number of the car. A number was stamped on the frame and you will need to pull the body to find it. Usually the frame number is difficult to read as they were not stamped well and are now rusty.

So many of the A's were so poorly restored they suffer and do not drive well. It takes a real expert to understand what you are looking at in detail.

You will know you have found an expert when they will tell you the A can run 55 MPH all day long if rebuilt back to factory specs. If the person tells you that the a is only good for 45 MPH then they do not understand how to rebuild the car.

The truth is if the car is restored back to original properly then it will comfortably run over 60 MPH for extended periods of time. When you step on the brakes it will feel like it wants to stop with confidence. The brakes only suffer from being drum brakes and the poor contact area of the tire to the road.

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Here is my 28 on a dyno taking it up to 65 mph

Fame numbers are very hard to fine as it tends to rust between the frame and the body where the number is located.

If a Model A front end is tight and set up right they cruise real nice at 55 and plenty of brakes.

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  • 4 weeks later...

There are a lot of Model A experts out there. I am not one of them. The 1928 Model A Roadster is much lighter in weight than a 1930 wood framed Murray Town Sedan. They will not have the same top end, period. Using a dyno to figure your top end is theoretical at best unless it can adjust for the aerodynamics of the car at speed in real world conditions. Spinning your wheels in place means nothing. The Model A driven at speeds in excess of 60 mph for extended periods is destroying its center main. While the brakes properly tuned will lock up the wheels with no problem, they will not take many hard stops before showing signs of brake fade. That is the nature of pressed steel drums. The point that I am trying to make here is not that they are not great cars. It is that people should not tell others that they can run at todays highway speeds and expect brakes to perform at todays standards. Someone with no mechanical ability or common sense may believe you and get killed. I have owned my Model A since 1963, I do know a little about them but like I said , I'm not an expert.

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Well I can tell you that they do run fine and thousands of Model A's are stock and running those kinds of speeds. The key is knowing how to restore the car back to factory specs.

Most guys do not take the time to understand how the A was built originally. Then there is the issue of the time and money of putting the car back together with the right parts.

Ford spent a lot of time and money designing the A with the right materials. You might be surprised at the number of hardened nuts that are on the car.

Issues like the worn pressed steal drums are easily fixed with modern cast drums that are available today. Getting a crank ground to Ford specs is interesting. When you show them the original crank specs and tell them the tolerances they tell you you want a race grind and double the price.

My fordor that had an engine rebuilt in 1955 liked running 55 MPH all day long and would push 60 no problem. My brothers coupe, restored in 1970, has been run 55 to 65 MPH since. The brakes did fine running through Chicago at 60+ and having people panic stopping in front of us on more than one occasion.

I have met many a long time A owner with cars that have obvious safety issues and they believe 45 is the top speed of the car. So just because a guy has owned an A since 1963 does not mean he knows how to properly rebuild the car. Anyone can make an A run and drive with worn out parts. That is one of the Model A's problem, they were built so well they could still be driven with extensive wear on critical parts. There is a reason why Sear's was still selling rebuilt A engines into the 1970's.

If you want know how the Model A was built and how to rebuild it back to original so you can run 55+ MPH just PM me, I will be happy to point you down the road to a solid, safe to drive all over country original car.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 2 months later...

Assuming that the vehicle has been purchased by the current owner in the state, it might be reasonable on the original date of purchase. They may have other documents, such as the original bill of sale, or other data. Often in a car this old, the engine has been replaced, the engine may or may not have the original serial number as shown in the title. Many states issue an update with the changes in the motor.

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