The amazing original design and story of the Model A

(This is a work of fiction…and a lousy one at that.)

I’m going to assume I don’t have any ethical or moral problems that allow me to trash a car that is so beautiful and tragic and celebrates such automotive history in such a decadent way.

Nevertheless, I think I’d be under even more scrutiny if I did exactly what I’m about to write about: the Model A… the basic toy and the American consumer car that supposedly opened the door for us all to afford a lifestyle that was — and was expected to be — a little bit ridiculous. It’s a world of roads we’ll never visit…

I wasn’t even born when the Model A was redesigned by Walter Reuther and William Ford Jr in 1916, so my knowledge of it is paltry by comparison to the company’s history; and while it’s easy to draw cars up by year and make comparisons, there’s only one car out there as wonderful as the Model A in terms of beauty and purposefulness. I also find it impossible to imagine many modern-day Americans growing up the way we do today. (Who wants to be a chauffeur, in a car with no mirrors?)

It’s the Model A, though, that has served as the reference point for generations of design, function and usability. That’s the beauty of the car.

Of course, there are modern-day knockoffs. Three different cars — Harley Davidson’s motorcycles, the Audi TT and the Ford Focus — are designed in the image of the original Model A. And you know what? That’s a pretty good imitation.


I’m not a collector or serious automotive buff, but that’s the draw of the Model A. You know, the one that’s still on the road and in the hands of hardcore, drive-driven collectors, and two-thirds of them don’t even exist anymore. (The other one is a Baby Einstein speaker, but still…)

That, to me, is the most important part of this story — the collection of the original (and relative) cars themselves. I probably wouldn’t be celebrating the car even if I were a hot rod enthusiast.

I love talking about the history, showing pictures and sometimes shooting video of the cars, but my favorite things to do are to drive the cars… drive them around while smoking cigarettes and/or listening to records with a twist that, let’s face it, modern-day Porsche fans would never do.

Have I said that I am much more interested in the automobile than I am anything else in my life? You bet.

The Dog Does It

I also admit that part of the appeal of this Ford roadster is the fact that I have an excellent German Shepherd, Roxy, who follows along in my daily life with some interest.

It’s obvious that as a professional writer, there’s nothing quite as exciting as seeing the A’s and B’s on the tailgate and wheels on the backs of the pickup. When Roxy gets a whiff of the engine on the front-end, what comes out of the rest of the car is a little something, too.

There are even some days when she won’t get out of bed and tries to drive the car herself. She’s programmed to go somewhere on its own (and not turn into a screaming wreck of a crash test dummy), and if she doesn’t, she takes action.

Roxy has learned to bite the inner wheel so she can pull down the lug nuts when I turn on the car, but I’m always surprised that she can actually do it. She does it even when I’m standing on the roof of the car and she’s too far away to even reach.

This is an article for Automotive News.

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