THE FORD MODEL A CHANGED AMERICA
(* a great article from Model T Roadsters)
Henry Ford was always convinced that people should satisfy themselves with nothing more than a good, simple and economical car and so The Model A Changed America. At the price of great efforts, his inner circle finally succeed in eroding his stubbornness and, in May 1927, after having produced more than 15,000,000 Model Ts since 1908, Ford closes his plants for many months in order to retool his assembly lines for the production of his next legend: the Model A. The latter will ultimately be produced in 5,000,000 copies between 1928 and 1931.
This new miracle is equally attributable to Henry and his son Edsel. Henry will dedicate himself to the mechanical aspects and Edsel will bring a whole new look to the «people’s car». Whereas the Model T was nicknamed “Tin Lizzie”, the Model A will be known as the «Baby Lincoln».
No new automobile has ever been so expected in History. The competition sharply felt the hurt of this waiting period (as much as tens of thousands of Ford employees which were temporarily laid off) since many were putting off their purchase of a new car in order to see what Henry was going to pull out of his hat this time.
When the New Ford is unveiled in December of 1927, riots occur in a few cities. 25,000,000 Americans (more than one out of every five men, woman and child in the U.S.A.) literally assault Ford showrooms in the space of only one week! A fresh jaunty look, sparkling performances, easy drivability and a low price all contribute to half a million sales on the spot! Ford easily retakes first place in sales, but will lose it in 1931 at the hand of Chevrolet.
Compared to the Model T, technical improvements are numerous although certain anachronisms persist. For example, the Conestoga-wagon transverse semi-elliptical suspension is kept.
On the other hand, a water pump, an oil pump and hydraulic shock absorbers are added. The 2-speed planetary transmission is replaced by a modern 3-speed gear box. But since it is not synchronized, the driver must now master the double-clutching technique.
The engine is a 4 cylinder affair of 200.5 cubic inch, producing 40 horsepower. A comfortable cruising speed is 40-45 miles an hour and a top speed of 65 miles an hour can be reached. Compression ratio has been expressly kept low (4:22 / 1). Of course, this low ratio lowers horsepower output and speed but, on the other hand, allows the use of lower grade fuels even if de-carbonization of cylinder heads isn’t performed regularly.
Longevity, dependability and simplicity were more important to Ford than performances. Wheelbase is 103.5 inches. Track is 56 inches. Weight varies from 2,050 to 2,386 pounds depending on the model.
In 1930, the appearance of the Model A is refreshed. The grill is higher as well as the hood line. The front fender curve is more graceful. Wheel diameter is reduced from 21 inches to 19 inches.
At the end of WWII, the Model A will become the unchallenged queen of the vintage car scene. This brief moment in automobile history (1928-1931) will generate the largest gathering of enthusiasm around a single model that no other has ever equaled since. Two gigantic Clubs and an entire spare part industry see the light of day. The abundance and ease with which technical information and new or refurbished parts can be found have made the Model A the easiest vintage car to buy, understand and maintain. One could even be able to assemble a completely new Model A from all the new parts that can be found on the market today! However, assembling the 6,800 distinct items to do so could well run over $50,000.
*Article reference: http://www.shayhistory.com/index.html