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Advice for First Time Purchase Early Fords and 30s Cars


NostalgicTXGuy
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Hello everyone, I'm 32, from Texas, new to the hobby, and committed to getting educated before jumping in. I'd like to discuss the pros and cons of the Ford Model T, A, and early V8 Fords through the lens of the novice hobbyist who is interested in a weekend driver and not necessarily a show car.
 
My family got me interested in old cars. I've ridden in a Model T, A, and 30's coupes. I'm teaming up with a friend who's also new to the hobby and interested in tinkering. I've got little skill turning a wrench, but I'm willing to learn. I also have a limited tool set and no trailer, but I do have space in a heated garage. My budget is under $20k as I'm starting a family.
 
Ts can be found in good condition for less than $10,000 in my area. There's a lot of guys in their 80s leaving the hobby. Many of the cars have been sitting for years. I'm hesitant to buy a T even though I love their simplicity. Suburban North Texas roads that lead to slower country roads are congested where I live. Driving around my neighborhood will get monotonous. Ideally I'd like to be able to jump in and go for a quick jaunt without too much tinkering. The T does appear to be the cheapest way into the early Ford hobby and fun way to master unique driving controls.
 
The A I've been told is as fun as a T and will keep up with traffic. A budget of $12-18k for a restored coupe is what I've been seeing. Parts seem plentiful and cheap. Interest does not seem to be waning as much as with the T crowd.
 
A Shay Model A roadster is $10-12K with the looks of an A and the mechanicals of a 70's Ford. Parts are getting harder to find, with most having been driven sparingly as parade cars, and owners have remarked about the cars not being very durable if driven a lot. 
 
Early V8 Fords (32-36 coupes and sedans) are the bee's knees but they also seem prohibitively expensive if you want an unmolested original car. Correct me if I'm wrong, but a 35-36 in driver or better condition for ~$15k is doable. If I decide to jump into the hobby with an Early V8 I'd want a driver or restored car as parts seem to be more expensive and sometimes harder to find compared to As and Ts. 1930's cars in general (GM, Mopar, Citroens) have piqued my interest lately.
 
My plan is to join Ford clubs and learn to drive a T and A, read what's available on forums like this one, and keep looking at cars this winter. Any advice as to pros and cons is much appreciated. In particular I'd like to hear about ownership experiences and how newby friendly each of these cars are for someone with the budget I'm working with. Asking prices and value guides (Hagerty, etc.) seem to vary a lot, so I need to get educated to know what to look for and pay.
 
Thanks!
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I will say this from what I've been through personally. When I bought my 1929 model A, I knew(or thought I knew) all things about a car. No sir, the model A is so simple to work on, it's sometimes frustrating. My advice before buying anything is find someone in your immediate area and go to their home (with a mask of course) and talk to them. Try and learn all you can about the car from someone first hand. Most folks are very willing to take their time and show you the car or truck. Remember, those who have one are very proud of them and are more than willing to help. Where are you located ?

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The Ford’s are almost their own sub genre/culture in a lot of ways, so one of the considerations is do you want a Ford or a car of that vintage

 

If it’s the latter I’d be looking at like a Buick or Studebaker

 

 

I’m in a similar situation to you and have a 1922 Cadillac, it’s not very easy mechanically to work on but drives nicely 

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Oh yeah make sure it’s wife approved 🤪

 

Thankfully my wife supports my hobby (she was a bit reluctant at first) but she came on a rally and now enjoys it.


Have already started indoctrination/education of my newborn with an A-Z of car parts book

 

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Your budget sounds about like mine, so you might want to look at '37, '38 & '39's.

 

They seem to be in a value sweet spot between the '35/'36 and '40/41's but have great curves in all the right places.

 

They are a great deal larger than the earlier cars, too.  I'm 6' 4" and couldn't hardly get my feet into an A I tried on.  I can wear a hat in both of my '39's.  Maybe not one of yours, but a ball cap for sure!

 

You're in a great location to find something,  too.  Good luck and ask away!

Edited by JRHaelig (see edit history)
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I had a model A Ford, oh so many years ago. Decided they were a bit too modern for my real interest, so sold it. I have had a number of Model Ts since, and enjoyed them all!

Both groups have very active clubs, and lots of people willing to help newcomers. Parts availability and prices are good for both. There are a lot of marques that have active and helpful clubs and owners. The big difference, is that there may not be anybody near you if you need to look at something or need a helping hand. Most non-Fords do not have many parts available, and what is available, might be expensive. Dodge, Buick, Chevrolet, Studebaker, and a few others are wonderful cars for reasonable prices. And those all have active and helpful clubs. But nothing matches an early Ford for ease of entry and local help.

 

About half the model T Fords I have had and driven, have been speedsters. Be forewarned. Speedsters are a lot of fun, and can be authentically restored to keep up with modern traffic. However, they are not welcome everywhere, and have a well deserved bad reputation due to so many people "restoring" them badly. Done properly, they are a real piece of automotive history. Speedsters are also not ideal for a young family. 

I only mention speedsters here due to your highway situation you mentioned.

 

I do not like "value guides". Most of them give out more bad information than they do good. The markets are complicated. Do not trust asking prices, and even actual sale prices can often be misleading. The price ranges you mention seem just a bit high to me. I think you may be able to do a bit better. You should be able to get a pretty decent model A two-door sedan for about $15,000.

 

All in all, while I prefer model Ts, I think a model A may make a better first antique with a young family. I have never played with the early V8 Fords. I do know the earlier ones can get very expensive these days. A major engine repair can also be costly. Ford V8s from the latter half of the '30s can be much more affordable.

Non-Fords of the late '30s can also be wonderful to drive, fast enough, reasonably reliable, and a lot of needed parts are available.

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1 hour ago, padgett said:

Guess first question is "what do you plan to do with it ?" Many Texas Farm to Markets have 60+ speed limits and if do not want to carry a big red triangle, a flathead is nice.

Well, padgett, I plan to drive it for leisure by myself or with family/friends around Texas and Oklahoma and explore many of the small rural towns I've never been to. Once I leave the DFW metroplex I'll have an easier time navigating the back roads. Growing up on a dairy farm, I probably could find a few triangles 😀 Realistically a T is going to be a hard sell in traffic unless it's Saturday morning. A 30's Ford, Mopar, or GM with a six or eight will get me out of town in a hurry.

44 minutes ago, JRHaelig said:

Your budget sounds about like mine, so you might want to look at '37, '38 & '39's.

 

They seem to be in a value sweet spot between the '35/'36 and '40/41's but have great curves in all the right places.

 

They are a great deal larger than the earlier cars, too.  I'm 6' 4" and couldn't hardly get my feet into an A I tried on.  I can wear a hat in both of my '39's.  Maybe not one of yours, but a ball cap for sure!

 

You're in a great location to find something,  too.  Good luck and ask away!

Thanks, JR, I didn't know the earlier cars were that much smaller. I'm also 6'4" and my size 13 feet touch all three pedals in a T! As for 37-39's, if I can get a coupe in my price range, I'm all in. I'm thankful Dallas is close enough to find cars in the Midwest and much of the South. I'll start looking for someone that could show me a few cars to "try on". I'm sure more questions will be flooding in soon as my mind is a sponge for Fords right now.

1 hour ago, Morgansdad said:

I will say this from what I've been through personally. When I bought my 1929 model A, I knew(or thought I knew) all things about a car. No sir, the model A is so simple to work on, it's sometimes frustrating. My advice before buying anything is find someone in your immediate area and go to their home (with a mask of course) and talk to them. Try and learn all you can about the car from someone first hand. Most folks are very willing to take their time and show you the car or truck. Remember, those who have one are very proud of them and are more than willing to help. Where are you located ?

I think reaching out to the local Model A club here in Dallas might help. Judging by their website, they're looking to help younger folks get into As and not feel intimidated. I'm currently living in a northern suburb of DFW.

1 hour ago, hidden_hunter said:

The Ford’s are almost their own sub genre/culture in a lot of ways, so one of the considerations is do you want a Ford or a car of that vintage

 

If it’s the latter I’d be looking at like a Buick or Studebaker

 

 

I’m in a similar situation to you and have a 1922 Cadillac, it’s not very easy mechanically to work on but drives nicely 

I'm looking for a car of that vintage (the 20s-30s) and I prefer Fords, but I'm open to others. To me, it's about finding parts and help without too much trouble. Wayne Carini talks about how wonderful 30s Buicks and Oldsmobiles are to drive, but it seems like many parts aren't so readily available as they are for Fords. Maybe I'm emphasizing parts too much. I've been warned that not all cars from this era are a fun visceral experience to drive, some are more of a chore, so I need to get out and drive a few if I can find an owner that's kind enough to allow me.

1 hour ago, hidden_hunter said:

Oh yeah make sure it’s wife approved 🤪

 

Thankfully my wife supports my hobby (she was a bit reluctant at first) but she came on a rally and now enjoys it.


Have already started indoctrination/education of my newborn with an A-Z of car parts book

 

Yes, the wife approves! As long as I take necessary precautions and keep my head on a swivel, she'll partake in a weekend drive with me 🤣

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I’ve had 3 T’s, 2 A’s, and a 24 Studebaker in my past. The Studebaker was easily capable of 60mph but it couldn’t stop worth a dam at those speeds because of having two wheel brakes. That is something else to be very conscious about, safety.

 

 I think an A would be a great starter car especially with an overdrive of some kind. They are nearly as simple as the T, but a little more pep and 4 wheel brakes. 
 

My wife and I moved from a quieter section of costal Maine to a congested area of coastal North Carolina and I made the mistake of bringing a T along instead of an A... now I am going through a 31 Pierce-Arrow engine as it showed up at the right time and price because the T will get hit if I’m not extremely careful about where I drive it. And yes, after a couple laps around the development it’s no more fun!

 

Good luck, something perfect will come along at the right time.

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Welcome to the AACA Discussion Forum. I was near your age when I purchased my first antique car, a 1931 Ford Briggs Bodied Model A Town Sedan. I had a number of Model A Fords over the following 2 decades. About 6 years ago, I finally graduated from Fords to Buicks. I purchased a 1937 Buick Cetury Touring Sedan. Since that time, I have restored a 1938 Buick Century and recently purchased a 1937 Buick Roadmaster Convertible Phaeton. 

 

A Model A Ford is an ideal "starter antique car". You can buy most anything you need for a Model A Ford out of a catalog. The quality of some of the reproduction parts is not always quite up to par, but you can get by with them. If you can find a nice 1937 or so Buick Special in your price range, you will find that you have much more car than a Model A Ford. Starting in 1937, a Buick Special has no wood in the body to give you troubles. The Buicks do have enough aftermarket parts available to get you by, but you will not find much in the way of body parts reproduced like you will with a Model A Ford. There are still viable sources for good used body parts for Buicks of that era, but it does help to be in a club to learn about them. 

 

Pete Phillips, the editor of the Buick Club of America's Buick Bugle is in Texas and is a good resource. He might be able to help you find a great Buick in your price range near you. I would also suggest you check out the 36-38 Buick Club http://www.3638buickclub.org/. If you contact me through the contact the webmaster link on that website, or by a private message here on the Discussion Forum, I will be happy to send you a sample issue of the club newsletter. 

 

For the price of a Model A Ford, you can likely find a driver quality 1937 Buick Special. It won't be a show car, but they were made to be driven. Good luck and welcome to the hobby!

 

I would also suggest you join the Antique Automobile Club of America and join a local chapter or region. In the local club, you will likely find people willing to let you ride in/drive various antique cars. That can help you decide what you really like. The local club members will also be a valuable resource for you for years, and likely will also help you find the car you are seeking. Many cars are sold by members of clubs to other members without ever being advertised to the outside world.  

Edited by MCHinson (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, NostalgicTXGuy said:

Buicks and Oldsmobiles are to drive, but it seems like many parts aren't so readily available as they are for Fords. Maybe I'm emphasizing parts too much


Buick doesn’t have the same parts availability as the fords but it’s probably one of the better makes and they are very affordable (Cadillac on the other hand...)

 

Something like this would be on my list as an alternate to the T’s 

 

https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/cars-for-sale/buick/e34/2385363.html


That one looks like it has the right amount of work and a good price 

 

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Early vs later 30's is an important difference.  Styling, construction, mechanics differ a lot.  Ford parts are readily available and cheap, compared to other makes.  Fords are much more commonly seen.  I'll offer subjectively that you get much more car for the money in a late 30's brand X ( Buick or junior Packard would be be my choice).  Comes down to your priorities and what turns your crank.

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I was also going to mention a junior Packard, but I'm biased, having owned two.

I was going to get a 1931 Model A roadster as my next car, but then I sat in one - I'm 6'5", and reasonably flexible, but I don't think that I could have driven that car for more than 30 minutes at a time.


Some of the other As may have more leg room, as I think the roadster has a fixed seat, but I'm not an expert.

 

The 35-39 Packard junior cars (120 and 115, then 120 and 110) are great drivers, reliable, good following, and easy to get parts for. Mine will easily do 65, although I prefer to cruise at 60 or less.

 

The biggest single piece of advice I can give you: buy the best car you can afford! Try to find something that has been driven regularly, and is well sorted! Any money you save on purchase buying a car that "just needs xxxx" will end up costing you ore in the long run! I didn't buy an antique car as an investment or a way to make money either - it is a hobby! That said, these cars do require a lot more attention than a modern car, so starting with a reliable tourer will prevent some frustration.

 

Most of the cars mentioned are solid choices, and with the internet there are experts within reach on every marque, so it will ultimately come down to preference.

 

Glad to see another guy my age getting into the hobby - I'm about to turn 39, and both of my kids love riding in my car.

Edited by Ken_P (see edit history)
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I've never owned a vintage Ford, but presently own a pair of '20's cars; a '21 Chevy roadster-pickup and a '25 Buick coupe. Both can be driven locally but due to limited speed and scarcity of parts ,they are both primarily trailer queens. My driver of choice is my 1940 Packard 110 coupe. It has excellent hydraulic brakes, synchromesh transmission, sealed beams, and cruises comfortably at about 55 mph. I have found parts to be fairly easy to find,with many routine maintenance items available at NAPA,etc. The seat is adjustable,too. 

Good luck with your quest, but as has been mentioned already,try driving a few different makes and years before taking the plunge.

Jim

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  I have only driven around  East Texas and the Houston area and not much of that but unless I had an enclosed trailer and a late model pickup for towing, a Model T or even a Model A  Ford would be pretty low on my list.

  Here in Maine you can choose less traveled routes but the geographical scale is so much different than Texas I think I would choose a mid to late thirties medium-sized car for touring with a family.

  That said I put ~ 30k miles on my '31 Model A Victoria over twenty-some years, but traffic, at least here has become much more aggressive and inattentive.

  Good luck.

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  I've owned a model T and a couple of model A Fords and while both are fun to own the A is way more enjoyable out on the road than a T. They are both simple, easy to work on and very affordable but if you want to take your family on for a ride and be able to run 45-50 mph the A is the the far better choice. Since you are tall as mentioned though, even the A will be a tight fit and a later 30's car may fit you much better. A later car will also be a bit more expensive and a little more complicated to work on most likely. My 2 cents worth.

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Los of good info here.  So many old car enthusiasts cut their teeth on Model As and then gravitated on to other types of vehicles depending on what they wanted to do.  Sounds like eventually touring will get into your blood-stream and that's good - a Model A will certainly get you there, and a good 30/31 4-door will offer the room you need for kids and a cooler. 

 

I love my 1914 T and it's covered a lot of miles, but is sometimes a challenge.  Driving a hundred or more miles in a day with one can tire you out for sure.   Trying to stop at the bottom of a steep hill with 4-lane cross-traffic can be frightening.   If you go with a T you'll need to find a way to haul it around to get somewhere, unless you limit yourself to local activities. 

 

For any of the Ford products, there is a wealth of knowledge, good support groups, and most anything you need is only an 800# away.  

 

Let us know what you decide on, and thanks for your continued feedback and participation in the forum.  Welcome to AACA!

Terry

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For a first timer getting into pre-war cars I would say go with the Ford Model A if you can fit in one.

The parts availability will keep you on the road and the club support will answer any questions you have along the way.

Sure, there are other marques that may have better road manners but parts can be a challenge and no single pre-war car has the parts availability of a Ford Model A.

As others have mentioned, join a local club and experience a few cars for yourself.

There is also one fellow that has been putting out some great videos about the Ford Model A.

https://www.youtube.com/user/paulshinn

 

 

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7 hours ago, bryankazmer said:

Early vs later 30's is an important difference.  Styling, construction, mechanics differ a lot.  Ford parts are readily available and cheap, compared to other makes.  Fords are much more commonly seen.  I'll offer subjectively that you get much more car for the money in a late 30's brand X ( Buick or junior Packard would be be my choice).  Comes down to your priorities and what turns your crank.

While I prefer the look of earlier 30's cars in general, Buick's and Packard's of the mid-late 30's have always caught my eye. I've been to the Packard museum. I never considered a junior Packard until it was mentioned by several others on this post because values on older Packards were always way out of my range when talking to owners about their cars. I'll need to find some good sources of info on the 120s and 110s that Ken speaks of. Really beautiful sedans, coupes, etc.

20 hours ago, MCHinson said:

For the price of a Model A Ford, you can likely find a driver quality 1937 Buick Special. It won't be a show car, but they were made to be driven. Good luck and welcome to the hobby!

I've been in a few mid-late 30's Buicks and found them to be pretty spacious for a guy my size. Most of my height is in my legs, so leg room is a must.

5 hours ago, Ben P. said:

But if it were me, knowing what I know now, I’d make a Model T my first old car all the way.

But as I went about it I’ve owned a LOT of old cars, mostly 1940’s - 1960’s because at the time they were affordable (or I thought they were) and available whenever I wanted one. Most of them followed me home when I wasn’t even looking.

I'm drawn to the T for the simplicity but also because of how passionate the clubs and owners of the cars are. My friend feels the same way since we've heard nothing but stories of how a T will run on pretty much anything flammable, how they tend to start when other old cars won't, etc. It's more likely the exposure to more T owners and stories as a kid that makes us feel that way. In Central PA you could find a T in many older gentleman's garages.

4 hours ago, pkhammer said:

A later car will also be a bit more expensive and a little more complicated to work on most likely.

That was a concern I had about later cars being slightly more complicated. Starting out in the hobby I'd like to find something that was a tourer or has been given proper attention so I'm not wrenching for months or a year to get a car sorted for regular driving. So many cars I've looked at have been sitting for years as their owners passed away and the family lost interest. A Hudson Terraplane I looked at had sludge in the gas tank and squirrels living under the hood but was a looker from 20 feet away. Buying the best car I can afford is the most frequent advice I've been told.

20 hours ago, MCHinson said:

I would also suggest you join the Antique Automobile Club of America and join a local chapter or region. In the local club, you will likely find people willing to let you ride in/drive various antique cars. That can help you decide what you really like.

I'm joining AACA local and national. Thanks for the suggestion. I think there's value in finding cars that have been well taken care of by passionate owners. Being able to talk to the owners and possibly ride along or even drive a few cars would help so incredibly much right now. I always found cars I never even knew existed by attending Hershey events over the years.

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NostalgicTX, as usual Jeff Perkins articulated my feedback as well as I could hope to ahead of me. 

The A is the quintessential antique car with a ready market if you decide to move it along.  I will say I thought I was done with the little A when we went to a 39 Packard a few years back.  Sold a pal a truckload of parts, and now, after coming home to our 30 roadster I am accumulating all my spares back... 🤔😯😉

 

The only other comment, if you had a handicap or need for an auto the Shay is cool, but otherwise get the real deal.  You can hop up the banger if you want a little more power and 3/4 of the A folk will love it.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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Texas Guy,

You are to big for any 1928-1929 Model A.  (Max shoe size 10)

Model A is the best choice, cost, parts availability, number of people who will help you

learn Model A's.  It's the most popular antique tour car in America for all those reasons.

Get a 1930-1931 Tudor (You can move the seat back an be comfortable and still have room for family members & friends who will all want to ride with you.)  Join the local and national Model A Club as well as AACA.   Find a friendly Model A guy to take with you when you go to buy one.

Enjoy the hobby in a Model A Ford.

I've had them all (50 years in the hobby)but my end choice was Early Ford V8's which are just beyond you price range for nice ones.  We still enjoy Model A people and seeing their cars on tours.  They are the most helpful group of antique car owners and the best possible place to start in the hobby.

My 2 cents worth.

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I had a Model A 2 door originally and don't recall it being all that tight. But a year ago I was looking at a 4 door and could barely get into it. No way could I drive it. I imagine the doors are larger on the 2 door but is the seat farther back also? 

My 30 DeSoto 4 door has plenty of room for my 6'2" 240 lb. frame. Even with the seat all the way forward.  They say Walter Chrysler was a big man and was comfortable in his cars. Something to think about. 

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The Ford Model T and Model A are wonderful hobby cars for what they are and what they can do with great parts availablity and information plentifull.

I've had a few of each and will again .But coming up with a Good one in any condition is not often easy.

So be warned !

A vast majority of these cars were and are bought by people who have no natural mechanical abiltiy or aptitude what so every (and never will) with dubious transferable skill levels at best.

 They get involved by subscribing  to the suggestion that these old cars are easy to work on (  even for iditos.)

 

 These great old Ford cars have been monkey with,with  less care then any other automobile in the hobby.

 Way to often I hear some Model T guy say "it's good enough,it's only a Model T..with a shiny car that has a  flimsy body that shakes and strains to go 30-32 MPH with a rear axle thats ready to blow out as he had ignored it because the car rolls good enough to go on a 5 mile ice cream run twice a summer .

 

Don"t fooled by great paint or so called rebuilt engines.

 

Many nice looking Model As that are less then a professional or advance amature hobby restoration are running around with old tar

black rear end oil .loose king pins ,worn out shakles ,sloppy worn out shifters and rattling break and clutch pedals etc. There is orange or blue gasket goop oozing out someplace and random sized nuts and bolts that were on hand are holding the car together and cotter pins missing.

But it's been upgraded to 12volts with turn signals.

 

 

Nice solid original and unmolested as possible cars I feel should be sought out unless you can afford an obviously at some point carefully rebuilt car.a

 

Working with the natural state of wear and tear whether on an original car or competent older restoration  is far easier to straighten out then some miss guided, less then nimble fingered clucks" keep busy work " old car he bought because he always wanted and old car to restore(fool with) but has never tighten a fan belt.

 

Call me an A whole if you like. 

I agree!👹

 

 

 

 

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I think the most smiles per dollar you can get in this hobby happens behind the wheel of a model T or Model A. If speed is a need, Model A. 
 

I am also 6’4” and fitting in either can be an issue. On the A, look at Tudor sedans and the slant windshields, they offer pretty good space.  You will be able to fit and drive any A... but the Tudor will be easiest. For me the issue on most model A body styles is the lack of room for my leg between the shifter and steering wheel when in reverse or first gear.... taking a few inches off the shifter is a couple hour project that fixes the issue and nobody notices. Many model A’s already have this done. The most leg room you will find in a model A is in the two door phaeton... one of the few body styles outside of your budget.

 

Look at lots of cars!  Sales prices are based on how shiny the paint is. You want the best driving and most mechanically sorted car you can get.  
 

aftermarket speed equipment tends to add little to the sale price of a car but are expensive to add to a car that does not already have them... some of them really help with driving in traffic.
 

A model T with a two speed rear end and, high compression head, better carburetor, and ignition upgrades will run with the stock model A’s all day. 

 

A model A with trans swap with a 4th (overdrive) gear, high compression head... will run with the early v8 cars all day. 
 

Most importantly, welcome and go get a car, we are all having a lot of fun!

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I have a 1911 Ford Touring that my Dad taught me to drive at age 13 and was the first car I ever drove. We have done several Ohio Model T Jamborees and the Hershey Hangover Tour this past October. While we tow it behind a Motorhome in an enclosed trailer, I drive it around our area 20 - 30 miles or so with a flashing red light on the back like the Amish use. Mine is stock rear end so it cruises at 30-40 MPH. After I do the Old Car Fest in Dearborn Michigan someday as my Dad took it in 1955, I may put on the disc Brakes(Old Car Fest does not allow) and maybe a two speed rear end. My buddies with those cruise at 40-50 and can keep up with the big 6 brass cars. For tours a long ways away you might check into the rental of a pickup and trailer which if infrequent may be better than owning. I also own a 36 Ford Phaeton. With its stock 4:11 gears it is a 45-50 MPH car. I have a Columbia for it and may put it in once I get it back on road. Need to add an electric fuel pump as the Cam is worn that moves the mechanical pump up and down and do not want to rebuild the engine just for that. While I have non Ford Brass cars too, They are expensive to have parts made. Non Fords like Buicks and such in the 1930s have some parts available, not as easy as T and A. 

 

While I have driven but never owned a Model A, It would be a good choice. Since you are talking family stick to one with a back seat like a Phaeton, Tudor or Fordor. Decent drivers of all of these can be had for under $20000. Some of the closed cars have adjustable seats. You need to check which one those are and see if you fit. The local A clubs can help. A stock A will run 45 all day with an occasional 50-55. As said before, someone makes overdrives for them that will move the cruising speed up to 50-55. They are simple to work on, gravity fuel, great parts supply and club activity. Adding a flashing light on the back like I do on busier roads it not a bad idea too. I would vote for an A as the best First Prewar car for a young family man. 

 

Tom in Cincinnati 

9FB894A1-488C-4582-BD1B-D481B06F4FBA.jpeg

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2 hours ago, tomcarnut said:

I have a 1911 Ford Touring that my Dad taught me to drive at age 13 and was the first car I ever drove. We have done several Ohio Model T Jamborees and the Hershey Hangover Tour this past October. While we tow it behind a Motorhome in an enclosed trailer, I drive it around our area 20 - 30 miles or so with a flashing red light on the back like the Amish use. Mine is stock rear end so it cruises at 30-40 MPH. After I do the Old Car Fest in Dearborn Michigan someday as my Dad took it in 1955, I may put on the disc Brakes(Old Car Fest does not allow) and maybe a two speed rear end. My buddies with those cruise at 40-50 and can keep up with the big 6 brass cars. For tours a long ways away you might check into the rental of a pickup and trailer which if infrequent may be better than owning. I also own a 36 Ford Phaeton. With its stock 4:11 gears it is a 45-50 MPH car. I have a Columbia for it and may put it in once I get it back on road. Need to add an electric fuel pump as the Cam is worn that moves the mechanical pump up and down and do not want to rebuild the engine just for that. While I have non Ford Brass cars too, They are expensive to have parts made. Non Fords like Buicks and such in the 1930s have some parts available, not as easy as T and A. 

 

While I have driven but never owned a Model A, It would be a good choice. Since you are talking family stick to one with a back seat like a Phaeton, Tudor or Fordor. Decent drivers of all of these can be had for under $20000. Some of the closed cars have adjustable seats. You need to check which one those are and see if you fit. The local A clubs can help. A stock A will run 45 all day with an occasional 50-55. As said before, someone makes overdrives for them that will move the cruising speed up to 50-55. They are simple to work on, gravity fuel, great parts supply and club activity. Adding a flashing light on the back like I do on busier roads it not a bad idea too. I would vote for an A as the best First Prewar car for a young family man. 

 

Tom in Cincinnati 

9FB894A1-488C-4582-BD1B-D481B06F4FBA.jpeg

Tom is very active with AACA !

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8 hours ago, gossp said:

I think the most smiles per dollar you can get in this hobby happens behind the wheel of a model T or Model A. If speed is a need, Model A. 

It's been really helpful to hear from owners of a A's and a T's. The feeder roads where I live have three lanes and speed limits over 40mph, but just a few miles outside of my neighborhood it's rural with lots of farm roads. There's also a farm museum close to where I live that offers a class where you get to learn to drive an original 1911 Brass T. The MTFCA has been very helpful. I plan to talk with the Model A club as well. In just a few short days I've been able to put a plan together.

On 12/29/2020 at 6:11 PM, Paul Dobbin said:

Get a 1930-1931 Tudor (You can move the seat back an be comfortable and still have room for family members & friends who will all want to ride with you.) 

Good to know that seats are adjustable on certain As. I like the 29-30 Standard/Deluxe/Sport coupe, but the Tudor/Fordor seems to have a lot more interior room between the seat and the steering column. I looked at the interior dimensions of a 26-27 T coupe and I may have a hard time steering and using the handbrake.

On 12/29/2020 at 8:10 PM, Ben P. said:

If I could magically go back in time and start this hobby all over again from scratch I’d still choose a T. That’s because I’m biased and that bias is: Assuming I only have space and budget for 1 old car and can own no other - my idea of an ‘antique’ car is an open car. That simply shuts out the idea of an A because the open A‘s cost considerably more than an open T. Unless it’s an older restoration, then it might fall into Model T price territory, but my experience with older restorations is - if it’s 25 or more years old I can pretty much count on rebuilding the engine. Probably within the first two years of ownership.

I found a guy in Central TX that rebuilds T engines, babbitt and all, and watched him rebuild an entire T. I imagine it wouldn't be cheap if I bought an older car that hasn't been rebuilt lately. I'll bring someone that's knowledgeable with me when I purchase, and make sure the car hasn't been run before I get there.

On 12/29/2020 at 8:22 PM, Fossil said:

My 30 DeSoto 4 door has plenty of room for my 6'2" 240 lb. frame. Even with the seat all the way forward.  They say Walter Chrysler was a big man and was comfortable in his cars.

So I'm guessing other Chrysler's from the era are bigger than Fords? From what I've been reading, Fords got much bigger on the inside in the late 30's.

On 12/29/2020 at 9:02 PM, Ben P. said:

It will be a hunt but this is the type of car (Model T, Model A, whatever) that you will be looking for. They are out there and this one went for less than my engine rebuild.

https://forums.aaca.org/topic/329749-1926-ford-model-t-touring-updated-price/

This is really solid advice. The hunt is part of the fun. I'm putting together a checklist for each of the cars I'm interested in. So far I've noticed that not all A and T restorations are created equal no matter how good they look from 10 feet away. Correctness is less of a concern than being mechanically sound since I'll be driving it regularly.

9 hours ago, gossp said:

A model T with a two speed rear end and, high compression head, better carburetor, and ignition upgrades will run with the stock model A’s all day. 

I'd be interested to know more about how these upgrades affect reliability. Especially adding a Ruckstell. Better brakes (even though discs are kind of hideous on a T), and wire wheels would be upgrades I'd want. I just need enough oomph to get 5-7 miles outside of the congested urban area where I live.

3 hours ago, tomcarnut said:

Since you are talking family stick to one with a back seat like a Phaeton, Tudor or Fordor. Decent drivers of all of these can be had for under $20000. Some of the closed cars have adjustable seats. You need to check which one those are and see if you fit. The local A clubs can help. A stock A will run 45 all day with an occasional 50-55. As said before, someone makes overdrives for them that will move the cruising speed up to 50-55.

The overdrive add on is more common than I originally thought it was. From what I've learned so far, the overdrive units won't overwork the engine if installed and driven correctly. I'll be sure to ask A owners about their experience once I hear back from the local club.

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40 minutes ago, NostalgicTXGuy said:

So I'm guessing other Chrysler's from the era are bigger than Fords? From what I've been reading, Fords got much bigger on the inside in the late 30's.


Yes, the fords were/are cheap motoring so competitors had to offer something different - some had different powertrains, gizmos and other size

 

If you’re looking for a project there is a v63 Cadillac coupe for sale that looks very original for $10k but the mechanical is unknown (Carl’s trying to work it out) that you would definitely fit in

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3 hours ago, NostalgicTXGuy said:

...The feeder roads where I live have three lanes and speed limits over 40 mph,

but just a few miles outside of my neighborhood it's rural with lots of farm roads.

 

Here's an idea for you, Texas Guy:

Since the roads are small and rural just a few miles

from your home, consider renting space in a garage

or barn out in the country.  You can then get out your 

old car at your convenience, enjoy the back roads, and

not have to worry about larger roads in a slower car.

 

In small-town Pennsylvania, garage rentals can be

found for $50/month per car with some searching.

Maybe close to the city, you might pay $100 or more.

 

The storage space shouldn't be very inconvenient if 

it is close by, and if your garage at home isn't big,

your wife will be happy that her modern car isn't sitting outside!

 

 

 

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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On 12/29/2020 at 9:24 PM, keiser31 said:

My 1931 Dodge Brothers coupes are roomy and have 6 cylinders.

535697_3435117275644_322487504_n.jpg

Because of your height, I would definitely check out the Dodges. I was really suprised the amount of interior room these cars have Vs. the 30's Ford's

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