While writing classic car profiles for a local publication, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several nice people. That’s a huge plus with writing — we may not meet in person, but when we begin discussing a common interest like old cars (I don’t own one; just admire from afar), it’s like we’re friends. After reading this, I’m sure you’ll agree it would be fun to ride in a Model A.
Brian Pickering of Fort Wayne used to build street rods and take them to car shows for judging. He found the experience unsatisfying. “My wife and I would sit through competitions with other car owners to see who could build the neatest car,” he said. “It was boring.”
Then in 2004 Pickering purchased a 1931 Model A Tudor — a 2-door sedan with a back seat — at a car auction.
The car initially took some work as some valves were stuck. Today, this nearly century-old vehicle would be difficult to pass on the highway. During re-assembly, Pickering installed twin carburetors to give the engine ‘oomph’. “This car now runs at 60 horsepower,” he said.
Pickering also installed an overdrive transmission. “The Model A was not safe on today’s roads at the slower speed,” said Pickering. “Now we can safely cruise all day. The street rods were for show. The Model A emphasizes driving fun and family time.”
Since purchasing the Model A, Pickering has driven it an average of 15,000 miles per year. The car’s previous owner had driven it 54,000 miles, making the car’s total mileage 135,000 miles.
His longest trip? Seven hours in one day. “We had no air conditioning so it was a challenge in a black car,” he said.
Unlike other car owners who store their antique cars in cold, wet weather, Pickering drives his year-round. “If there is no major snow building up, it’s fun to drive in the winter,” he said. To combat the cold Pickering purchased a 12-volt electric blanket which he plugs into a voltage converter via cigarette lighter. “One advantage to no heater is that the windows don’t steam up,” said Pickering. His wife, Pam, wears a snowmobile suit when sitting in the passenger seat.
Pickering considers owning an antique car a good family hobby. “I will pass the car on to my son who feels the same way about it that I do,” he said. “In the driver’s seat I’m thinking, ‘Hey, look at me!’”