By Vern Parker
In the four years between 1928 and 1931 the Ford Motor Company produced about five-million Model A Fords. There were two-door and four-door sedans as well as coupes, roadsters, pickups and many other models.
One of the flashier models was a 1930 Convertible Cabriolet. When new it carried a base price of $645. For that price the buyer got a fabric top fitted with chrome plated Landau irons to enable the top to go down.
It was almost 30 years ago that Clem Clement decided that the 1930 Model A Ford Convertible Cabriolet that had recently been offered for sale in Maryland was the car for him. The 2,273-pound car was equipped with the requisite 200.5-cubic-inch, four-cylinder, 40-horsepower engine. However, this engine was not functioning.
Also appealing to the prospective buyer was the Bronson Yellow paint covering the body, contrasting nicely with the Seal Brown fenders. Orange pin striping accented the curves of the body.
Undaunted, Clement purchased the Ford in the summer of 1987 and on a trailer took it home to Fairfax, Va. His philosophy is “If it runs, it's no fun.”
Only 29,226 models like his were manufactured so Clement set about bringing his cabriolet back to life. He says the seat in the cab and the rumble seat both are upholstered in brown crushed grain artificial leather.
There is a two-blade fan to draw cooling air through the radiator. Assisting in keeping the engine running cool are 22 louvers on each side of the engine hood.
The engine drinks fuel from the 10-gallon tank that is mounted beneath the cowl, just above the lap of the occupants in the car. The gas cap is just forward of the windshield.
Suspended from the top of the windshield is the single vacuum-operated wiper positioned to clear the view for the driver.
Clement says the four-cylinder engine in the Ford when he acquired the car did not last long. A second engine was located and replaced the first one.
Lengthy trips have been taken in the car on its 103.5-inch wheelbase supported by the 19-inch tires mounted on the 30-spoke wheels.
In the center of the dashboard is an optimistic 80 mph speedometer. Clement cautions that his car may have an 80 mph speedometer but it does not have 80 mph brakes. The four-wheel brakes are mechanical and the footprint of each tire is small.
Eventually, the second Model A engine had to be rebuilt. Fortunately, virtually every part for a Model A Ford is still available. When that chore was completed the old Ford was driven – at a leisurely pace – to an antique car event in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The three-speed transmission shift lever sprouts from the floor next to the hand brake lever. The transmission continues to perform beautifully.
The six-volt battery is hidden beneath the floor boards.
In order to increase the curb appeal of his Model A Clement has dolled up his car by equipping it with a rear luggage rack in addition to a luggage rack on the left running board. “The amazing thing,” he admits, “is there is no luggage.” The car now has dual side mounted spare tires encircled with brightwork.
Both running boards have Ford script metal step plates and the radiator is protected by a chrome plated stone guard. On either side of the protected radiator are the unprotected, flat lens, eight-inch diameter headlights.
Inside the cozy cabin the occupants, in the heat of the summer, can be comfortable with the windshield opened to permit fresh air to enter. To achieve flow-through ventilation the flap holding the rear window can also be opened and secured to the ceiling of the car.