Model A Stolen From Henry Ford Museum Carpark Returns To Owner

Peter Anderson | Jul 16, 2012

Having a car stolen in Detroit is not only not common, it's almost a rite of passage.

However, the Californian owner of a stolen car - that had another car in the trailer hitched to the back - had reason to be especially miffed.

'Miffed' probably wouldn't cover it. The trailer contained an immaculate Ford Model A, and it was stolen from the car park at the Henry Ford Museum.

Thankfully, Model A and trailer have been recovered by the Dearborn police, without a single scratch. The truck it was hitched to, a 2001 Ford F250, is still missing in action.

Obviously the thieves had a rich sense of irony, but no sense of history.

The Model A in question was a 1930 example, bright yellow and with black fenders. It was from the second attempt at the Model A, the first running from 1903 to 1904.

The first of the new Model A cars rolled off the line in October 1927, to replace the wildly successful Model T. It was available in four colours but, sadly for joke writers, not black.

The Model A is also credited as being the first Ford to have the driver controls we now take for granted. It was also the first car to use safety glass in the windscreen.

By February 1929 the Model A had racked up a million sales and by the end of July another million had hit the roads. By the end of its production run in 1931, the Model A came achingly close to the five million mark, hitting just under 4.9 million sales.

It had been produced in the US, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, England and Australia. Here, it was assembled in Geelong.

The Model A could be had for US$385 for the base model roadster, through to US$1400 for the top-of-the-line Town Car. There was a dizzying array of variants to choose from, including a taxi and a wood-panelled delivery van.

Power came from a water-cooled 3.3 L-head four cylinder good for around 30kW and using around 9.0 l/100km.

With that modest grunt, brick-like aerodynamics and weighing in at just over a tonne, it could hit 105km/h in the right conditions - and provided the driver had the requisite bravery on skinny tyres.

Naturally, hot-rodders got to work on the Model A (calling it the A-bone), and the model remains a staple inspiration.

The Model A was a hardy beast, as proven by Hector and Huego Quevedo, a father and son team who drove their 1928 Model A from their home in Punta Arenas in Chile to the Dearborn headquarters of the Ford Motor Company. They left home in October 1992 and arrived in December 1994, a journey of 35,000km.

The pair say they left home with US$5, sufferingly only a flat tyre and a quick repair to the three-speed transmission in Nicaragua.

Clearly they took the long way, but the A's simplicty won the day, and that very car is now housed at the same museum where the yellow car was stolen.

The Model A reached the end of the line in the West in 1931 and was replaced by the Model B, an A with an updated engine and body, another hot-rodder favourite. Soviet company GAZ also produced the Model A from 1932 to 1936.

Model A and owner have since been reunited. There's no word on whether Ford lent the owner an F-Series to get it back home to California.

Filed under: theft, News, history, ford, ford model a

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