1929 Model A Ford

Many churches have fundraising events and St. Robert’s Church in Cortland, Ohio was no exception. In 1958 Father Robert O’Dea conducted an auction and sold $1 raffle tickets for an antique car.

From a junkyard he acquired a rusted out, worn out, beat up 1929 Model A Ford roadster. He then assigned restoration duties to Don and Ron Urchek, the teenage twin sons of Martin and Mary Urchek.

The twins would tell Father O’Dea what they needed and he found a way to get it. “He had a way of talking people into anything — from engines to tires to upholstery to even having the paint job donated,” Don Urchek says. The project took the entire summer.

When the winning raffle ticket was drawn at the September fundraiser the winner was the Little League baseball manager. The twins delivered the Model A to the winner later that day and were told that he really didn’t want the car. “With very little thought,” Don, says, “I offered to buy the car. After church the next day, I paid $150 for the car.” When new in 1929, the car sold for about $450.

Soon after acquiring the Model A, Don had his first date with Martha Broadwell. He remembers driving her in the Model A to the movies. Both twins were drafted and they went out for one last night on the town Oct. 20, 1961. That is when the second gear decided to quit working.

Don parked the car at his parent’s house and left for the Army. Upon completion of his military obligation, Don returned to Ohio and found something was always interfering with his plan to work on the old Ford. In 1964, he and Martha were married and then the children came along, followed by a house and all the accompanying responsibilities.

Finally, 42 years after he bought the car restoration began in January 2000. The Model A was dismantled. Every nut, bolt, bearing and body part was taken apart. Model A parts suppliers and swap meet vendors provided all of the parts needed for a complete restoration.
A few enhancements were made as the car was being reassembled. The anemic 6-volt electrical system was boosted up to a 12-volt system for easier starting and additional power for the headlights, which now have quartz bulbs. A second side-mounted spare tire was added, necessitating another fender well.

Originally, the Ford had only one taillight, but for safety reasons the owner wanted to install turn signals and that meant installing a second taillight. Since the back of the car was nearing symmetry a second set of step plates up the left rear fender for access to the rumble seat seemed like a natural addition.

One of the last steps in the restoration was installing the gray upholstery and painting the car forest green. Wing windows were installed to protect the occupants from the wind. In lieu of side windows the roadster is equipped with side curtains, which are stored on the floor of the rumble seat. According to the owner, the side curtains can be installed to weatherproof the car in about 10 minutes. A trunk is mounted on a rack at the rear of the car.

The four-cylinder engine has been rebuilt and still is fed fuel, complements of the force of gravity, from the 10-gallon gasoline tank beneath the cowl in front of the windshield. “I’ve had it up to 65,” Don says, “but usually I drive it about 45.” He reports fuel economy of about 15 to 16 mpg.
The four-wheel mechanical brakes are assigned to handle any stopping chores by binding the 21-inch wheels with black spokes.

Once all the pieces and parts were gathered, the owner says he put it all together in about a week and the project was completed in December 2001. Since then he has driven his reliable Ford about 11,000 miles.

As a member of the Five Points Model A chapter the car has toured through Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and even on a two-day, 1,300-mile round trip to Williamsburg, Va. — Vern Parker

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2008

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