Segment One: The Model A Years 1928-1931

Author: Paul McLaughlin

In June of 1937 Henry Ford did something some people thought they would never see him do. Soon after producing his 15,000,000th Model T, Henry Ford ordered production ceased and he shut down all of his plants to retool for his new Model A. Though some had hoped this shutdown would only last a couple of months, to their chagrin it would take almost 6 months before Henry thought his Model A was ready for to be introduced to the public on December 2, 1927.

For pickup buyers the only Model A pickup available, at least at first, was an Open Cab type. It featured a new styled body provided to Ford by Briggs Manufacturing. It also used a soft top that was non-retractable that used side curtains of canvas and mica to keep out the elements.

Though these cabs were new the pickup boxes used were carryover from the Model T. These trucks didn't just look new, they were new. They featured

a new body, new engine, new transmission, new frames and new wheels. Their new 4 cylinder engines displaced some 200 cubic inches and produced some 40 horsepower at 2200 RPM. Backing up these new engines were new three speed manual transmissions that used a standard "H" shifting pattern. There were a lot easier to use than the

The squared off lines and small rear window of this Closed Cab pickup identify it as an early 1928 or 1929 Model A. (Photo Paul McLaughlin)

three pedal planetary transmissions that were used in all the Model T's.

Standard equipment on these new Model A's included a 6 volt starting system, left fender mounted spare tire, a 4 wheel mechanical braking system, tool kit, hand-operated windshield wiper and a comfortable seat covered in artificial leather.

In August of 1928 the Closed Cab version of the pickup was released to the public. This truck featured an all steel cab with roll-up windows in its doors. Both vehicles were available in a Black or Rock Moss Green color. Fenders, running boards, wheels, headlight buckets and the radiator grille surround were painted black on these vehicles.

Ford produced some 26,171 pickups in 1928 before the model year ended.

In February of 1929 Ford released their 1929 Model A pickups with minor changes over their 1928 counterparts. One of those changes involved adding exterior door handles to Open Cab models while the other change had Ford offering more exterior color choices to pickup buyers this year. All of these changes appealed to buyers as Ford's Model A pickup production this year jumped to 77,900 units.

This early model, 1928-1929, Open Cab Model A Pickup has been dressed up by using a car type nickel-plated grille surround and headlights. The red wheels and while wall tires also add a nice touch. (Photo: Paul McLaughlin)

The 1930 model year saw Ford redesigning all their Model A's including the pickups. This redesign involved smoothing out cowl panels, restyled fenders, raising the hood line and using a taller, thinner radiator. Closed Cab pickup models got a sun visor mounted over the windshield, a windshield that could be pivoted out from the bottom for cab ventilation, a new soft roof panel and a cab that featured more rounded corners on its backside. Open Cab variants got a new top that could be removed and once removed the windshield could be laid down flat on top of the cowl. In addition to these changes Ford even offered more color choices this year but all these changes couldn't keep pickup production from dropping to 48,378 model units in this Depression year.
For 1931, the last year of Model A production, Ford offered a larger pickup box (22.2 cubic feet versus 16.8) and even more exterior color choices to buyers. They also offered a limited production pickup for people who wanted
something special. This pickup was called the Model A Deluxe Pickup and it featured a unique, slab-sided pickup box that bolted to the back of a Closed Cab making the two separate pieces look like one. Chrome plated brass rails were added to the top of the bed sides to provide a distinctive look to these trucks. In addition all the nickel plated trim

This 1931 Closed Cab Model A Pickup shows its redesigned cowl panel, sun visor, and rounded corner cab backside in this side profile shot. The truck was also dressed up by using a nickel plated grille surround and headlights as used on the Model A car. Apple Green painted wheels added a nice contrast. (Photo: Paul McLaughlin)

elements found on the Deluxe Model A cars were also used on these trucks. Most of them were painted white with black fenders and top panel. Only 293 of them were produced and about 100 of them were used by General Electric technicians who worked on refrigerators. Ford also offered a Canopy Top (Type 65-A) Option for their pickups for those people who wanted a covered pickup to use in their businesses.

Ford produced 29,545 pickups before they stopped production of their 1931 Model A trucks in March of 1932. That brought to a close the Model A Era which saw Ford produce some of their most popular vehicles build during the past century. Vehicles that had such an impact they are still popular today almost 70 years after the last one was produced in the United States.

Next Segment: The V8 Years, 1932-1936