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The May motor number is the date the engine was made.  All engines were made at the Rouge plant, but assembly plants were located all over, so depending on where the car was assembled it could take 2 weeks to four months for the engine to have been installed and the car to roll off the line. 
You can't see the number on the frame without lifting the body and the splash apron.  It is usually on the rail hidden under the left cowl.  You may be able to determine the plant where it was assembled by looking at the body cross member (not the frame cross member) that is under the front of the seat.
Take a hard look to try to determine if the engine number has been re-stamped.  Unfortunately that is quite common.  In Virginia in earlier days in order to legally change engines a title change had to be done and the id was then changed to new engine's number.  A huge percentage of Model A's don't have their original engine, nor does it match the title!    
Make sure it was born as a Deluxe Phaeton.  I have seen an extremely well done fake made from a Tudor.  Easy tip off is the door width, which should be noticeably wider than a Tudor's. 

Edited by Dave Henderson (see edit history)
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I have sold at least a few original 180A Deluxe Phaetons. You need to be careful about what you are looking at.

 

You are correct, the 180As, like some other 1930 and 1931 Model A body styles, did indeed come with a body tag. I have attached two pictures of  original Model A body tags. The body tag is located on the firewall, beneath the Ford patent tag. I consider an original body tag to be of importance, especially on this particular body style.

 

As Dave mentions above, several of these have been made from converted two door sedans.

 

There was also a person who was very quietly reproducing these bodies out of steel several years ago. Many cars were built with his bodies and have been sold over the years as originals. It is difficult to verbally explain the differences between these bodies and originals, but, just like the new Brookville roadster and roadster pickup bodies, there are several details that distinguish them from originals. These bodies are really good, but not perfect, reproductions.

 

You also need to be sure that the car you are looking at is an original, American-built 180A. More 180As were built for export than sold in the USA. The bodies built for export differ significantly from the US built cars. Many of these imported cars were brought back into USA in the 1970s and 1980s are restored to resemble American built cars. The non- USA bodied cars are far less valuable than an original US built car.

 

 

180As are considered by many to be one of the most attractive and valuable Model A body styles. Be sure you do your homework, or, have someone inspect the vehicle that is very familiar with this particular body style. Good luck with your purchase and keep us posted. (Remember: we like to see pictures!!!)

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Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)
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I have been told that the body tags were not factory installed and were available as a non authorized accessory. I am also told that in judging that points would be deducted. I presently own two and neither have the tags. Wayne

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Al-Body tags are not accessories. They were installed on 180As, 400As and a few other body styles.

Please show us photos of your two cars and their firewalls to see if there are holes for the body tags. I would be real surprised if you owned two 180As that did not come with firewall tags. Points would be deducted if you did not have these.

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Al-Body tags are not accessories. They were installed on 180As, 400As and a few other body styles.

Please show us photos of your two cars and their firewalls to see if there are holes for the body tags. I would be real surprised if you owned two 180As that did not come with firewall tags. Points would be deducted if you did not have these.

Don't be surprised as I have two friends who also gave Phaetons that also have no tags or holes where they were attached. Wayne Edited by AlCapone (see edit history)
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If you marry a tag to match an engine number, is it also true you have no way to insure that the engine may have been replaced at some time? I would bet that less than half of model As have original engines. It is true, too,that they do make good engine stamps for altering the engine numbers shame on them!

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I had an interesting situation with a Model A I bought that was titled by engine number. While it was with me, we learned that the engine had been improperly rebuilt (thrust bearings were wrong) and every time you pushed in the clutch, the whole crank moved so the throws were hitting the inside of the block. Anyway, we not only needed to rebuild the engine, but we needed a new block. So I bought a rebuilt crate engine from a major Model A engine supplier. No problem, right? Engine goes in, car drives better than any Model A I've ever driven, everyone should be happy. Except the title no longer matches the engine. Uh oh...

 

Fortunately, it was titled in New York as I hadn't yet switched it to Ohio. I went to the guy I bought it from and he was happy to go to the DMV with me and show them the old engine number, the new engine number, the two of them side-by-side in the shop, etc. The nice lady at the New York DMV smiled, said, OK, that looks right, and gave us the new number on our paperwork.

 

I can't guarantee it will always be that easy, but I was shocked (shocked!) that it was so easy. It cost me a day in Buffalo but that was a small price to pay.

 

What does this have to do with a Model A deluxe phaeton? Nothing at all. Just make sure your numbers line up properly before you write the check, that's all. The expertise here and at the Ford Barn will be an excellent guide and if you have any tickle in your gut that it isn't right, then that should be enough to walk away. I won't say there are "a lot" of deluxe phaetons running around, but if you want one, you will surely find another without such questions attached to it.

 

Good luck!

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If you marry a tag to match an engine number, is it also true you have no way to insure that the engine may have been replaced at some time? I would bet that less than half of model As have original engines. It is true, too,that they do make good engine stamps for altering the engine numbers shame on them!

First, the aforementioned "tag" number pertains to just the body and isn't related to the engine/frame number. 

The only way to assure that an engine in a Model A has not been changed is to examine the frame number, which involves more work than would usually want to be undertaken. 

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I had an interesting situation with a Model A I bought that was titled by engine number. While it was with me, we learned that the engine had been improperly rebuilt (thrust bearings were wrong) and every time you pushed in the clutch, the whole crank moved so the throws were hitting the inside of the block. Anyway, we not only needed to rebuild the engine, but we needed a new block. So I bought a rebuilt crate engine from a major Model A engine supplier. No problem, right? Engine goes in, car drives better than any Model A I've ever driven, everyone should be happy. Except the title no longer matches the engine. Uh oh...

 

Fortunately, it was titled in New York as I hadn't yet switched it to Ohio. I went to the guy I bought it from and he was happy to go to the DMV with me and show them the old engine number, the new engine number, the two of them side-by-side in the shop, etc. The nice lady at the New York DMV smiled, said, OK, that looks right, and gave us the new number on our paperwork.

 

I can't guarantee it will always be that easy, but I was shocked (shocked!) that it was so easy. It cost me a day in Buffalo but that was a small price to pay.

 

What does this have to do with a Model A deluxe phaeton? Nothing at all. Just make sure your numbers line up properly before you write the check, that's all. The expertise here and at the Ford Barn will be an excellent guide and if you have any tickle in your gut that it isn't right, then that should be enough to walk away. I won't say there are "a lot" of deluxe phaetons running around, but if you want one, you will surely find another without such questions attached to it.

 

Good luck!

All sounds reasonable, Matt, except the requirement that the numbers line up. Henry's often did not!

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