Model A Hullinger

My first car was a 1930 Model A Ford Cabrolet.  It was a convertible with a rumble seat.  I bought it in Draper in western South Dakota in 1965 where it had been rusting outside for many years. I was working on my Uncle Luverne's ranch. My cousin Raymond Boe and I rebuilt the car (Thanks again, Ray, RIP).  As you can see from the photos the body remained in a very rough state - we painted over the rust and welded fenders. 

The top leaked, there was no interior, and you could see the ground through the floorboards. She was unsafe at any speed.  But she was my first car and I loved her.

The photo shows my younger brother Neil and I in the rumble seat. My Uncle Luverne is driving and his dog Herman in riding shotgun. 

She had brakes on only three wheels and they would not lock the wheels when applied. She would also boil over if you went over 32 miles an hour.  

My cousin Dana Erickson and I drove her back to Chicago from western South Dakota. The trip took us three days and we went through all five extra wheels with tires that I had purchased. The tires had good tread but were very old and brittle which caused frequent flats. We had to buy one additional tire that a gas station happened to have in their attic.

The wheels ranged in diameter from 21, 19, and 18 inches.  We started the trip off with balanced wheels on each side but as we had frequent flats we did not worry if a 21 inch one was on one side and an 18 inch wheel on the other side. It seemed to work ok.

The Model A broke down twice on the trip. In each case a young mechanic told us all the terrible and expensive things that were wrong with the car that could not be fixed. In each case an old guy (younger then I am now) came up and volunteered his services and quickly made the car run. One guy opened up the carburetor and bent the float with his teeth, and voila !!  It ran.  The other time an older gentleman inserted a large screw driver into the points, gave a mighty shove, and voila!! The car ran. No cost. Thank you, gentlemen.

The photo below is Don Martensen MPHS 66 and I in my parents driveway. Don owned a Czech Skoda, a very slow car. He and I conducted a drag race to determine who had the slowest car in Mt. Greenwood. Don won, meaning his car was slower.  Those Communists just could not compete with American technology. George Traister MPHS 65 RIP owned a Kaiser Henry J which was also very slow but we never drag raced.

I drove the car to and from Morgan Park High School in my senior year in the fall of 1965. I would arrive late, driving in front of the school in first gear with the engine revved up, then hit the spark advance and choke, which caused a series of very loud backfires. I wanted to let the school know the Model A and I had arrived.

The car would often not start. We would then push start the car.  My cousin was showing Jackie Sheffner MPHS Jan 66 how to shift. He showed her how to ease the clutch, shift, and release the clutch. When the car stalled, he had her drive and pop the clutch while he pushed. The car started. 

Jackie shouted, how do I stop it?  Dana yelled "push in the clutch".  As she had been trained, she pushed in the clutch, then shifted into second gear, and released the clutch.  

Jackie was now screaming as the car accelerated. "How do I stop it?" Dana yelled, "Push in the clutch!" She did so, and as she had been trained, pushed in the clutch, shifted into 3rd gear, and released the clutch.

She was now driving south rapidly on Central Park south of 111th Street, screaming as she continued out of control. The automatic accelerator was on high.

Dana was pursuing on foot. A woman stopped and gave Dana a ride in hot pursuit.

Jackie finally stopped the car just short of 115th Street and probably a bad wreck. Of all the ways she could have stopped it - pushing in the clutch and leaving it pushed in, turning off the key, shifting it out of gear - she stopped it by reaching over to the other side of the car and turning off the choke.

The car was also a hit at the MPHS football games. I usually took five girls in front and rumble seat. Renee Toppin MPHS Jan 66 would bring her Pompoms and Raccoon Coat. I think MPHS girls who rode in the rumble seat included Sandy Schuessler Wright and Sue Wiggins and Joyce Prange (MPHS 66) and Bobby Toppen MPHS 67.  I thought I was hot stuff.

The car cost $200 to buy and $150 to "restore" to "top" running condition. I thought I would make a lot of money on the car, but in the end I broke even.  Although as I think about it that is the best I ever did on any car.

I sold the car after high school. She was taken back to Detroit where she was born and restored. I hope she is doing well and has fond memories of our time together.

Hey Craig,

You left out a couple episodes in your model A Stories.

Do you remember the time at the drive-in when it wouldn’t start, so you lifted the hood to inspect while I held down the starter for you? When you tried all you could, you slammed shut the hood (I still had the starter pressed) and the jar made it start.

Or the time you lost a foot/drag race between, I think it was Pete Terry, on foot and the model A? At the end of the block, you were still behind with your slipping clutch, but gaining speed rapidly and passed him after the block was completed.

Just two more memories from a great car.

And you mentioned Don’s Skoda, the Czech Wreck. I eventually bought it from him when the steering column broke, and jury rigged a fix for it. (My, we had no sense of safety then.) Then Don and I wanted to go on a double date, but neither had suitable wheels, so Don arranged to borrow his dad’s four door by me loaning his dad the Skoda to go to work that evening, thereby freeing the four door for our date. 

Unfortunately, that was the demise of the Skoda, in an accident in Mr. Martenson’s hands. If I remember correctly (hard at this age and post Covid), it was providential because when Mr. Martenson went to the hospital after the accident, they also found and treated some other medical issues that would have gotten worse if not discovered.

Those were the days.

Allen Carlson


I do remember those events. Thanks for reminding me.  But I think Pete could beat me for the first hundred feet but not a block. Do you remember, Pete?

I also remember taking 5 MPHS girls to a MPHS Football game.  A car full of guys was giving us a ration, and bumped tjhe Model A a few times with their bumber.  I was not concerned, though - they could not hurt the "A".

More Info About Model A Ford Cabrolet

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.

What My Car May Look Like Today


1930 Ford Model A Cabriolet / Photos and Specifications

The automobile featured in this article is a superbly restored 1930 Ford Model A Cabriolet. The detailed restoration along with the rumble seat on this vehicle makes the car look fantastic.
1930 ford cabriolet
1930 Ford Model A Cabriolet
The New and Improved Ford Model A
The Ford Model A’s took the place of the famous Model T’s. Model T’s had been around for quite some time and during the early 1920′s sales began to decline. More competition was entering the picture. Even with these competitive issues it took a good deal of persuasion to talk Henry Ford into coming out with a new car model. This was a characteristic of the old automaker. Ford had a habit of not wanting to tinker with what he thought was a good car. Competitive pressures made Ford agree to changes that he didn’t feel were necessary. A good example were the Ford brake systems that remained mechanical for a period after General Motors introduced their hydraulic braking system.
The Ford Model A’s were designed by both Henry Ford and Edsel Ford. The Ford Model A was produced from 1929 through 1931. Ford used the body designations 68A, 68B and 68C. The Briggs Body Company built all of the Cabriolet bodies for Ford. TheCabriolet is a convertible with glass side windows, unlike the canvas side curtains found on many other roadster models.
model a cabrioletThe Ford Model A was offered in many different styles. These included a coupe, sports coupe, roadster, cabriolet, towncar, fordor, truck, station wagon and taxicab. All of the various Model A’s acquired a reputation as being ruggedly built.
1930 Ford Model A Cabriolet Specifications
The 1930 Ford Model A came with afour cylinder 205 cubic inch 3.3 liter engine delivering 40 HP. The 1930 Model A’s engine produced twice the power of previous Model A engines. Top speed was estimated at 65 to 70 MPH.
The wheelbase was 103.5 inches. The car’s transmission was a three speed manual.
Brakes were four wheel mechanical. This was a significant change from the old Model T days when those automobiles had only two wheel brakes.
Seating capacity was 5.
Vehicle weight was between 2,155 and 2,495 pounds. New vehicle price ranged from$450 to $650 which reflected the slow economy that year.
Among the changes from 1929 to 1930 were wider fenders, elimination of the cowl stanchion and a deeper radiator shell.  Options available for 1930 included an external sun-visor, a rear luggage rack, a spare tire lock and for a bit of better safety a rear-view mirror.

Poster - 1930

The Ford Convertible Cabrolet