1931 FORD MODEL A PANEL TRUCK 'HOT ROD'
Vehicle Identification No. 41AA3584067
Black and White Oak with black leather interior
Engine: V-8, 350ci, 4bbl carburetor, 350bhp; Gearbox: three speed automatic transmission; Suspension: solid front axle, rear beam axle with coil springs; Brakes: four wheel drum brakes. Left hand drive.
By the mid 1920s Henry Ford was reluctant to end production of what was the best-selling car in the country, the legendary Model T. However, he was convinced by the advances offered in the competition's cars that the time had indeed come. In the fall of 1927, the Model A was introduced. It was a significant step above the Model T and gave the Ford customer much enhanced performance in a far more sophisticated and comfortable car.
The Model A came in many models and configurations, including, as had the Model T, trucks. Commercial vehicles were an important part of Ford's business and the company put a great deal of effort into making them as well made as possible. Among the truck variants was the panel delivery. In addition to the standard steel bodied model, a "woodie" version was also offered. In fact, Ford was the first to offer woodie bodies on his chassis as cataloged vehicles. The Ford Motor Company was also the only car maker to build their own wood bodies and not farm them out to subcontractors. Taking it a step further, Henry Ford expanded his totally vertical manufacturing model to include woodies. A Ford-owned lumber mill prepared the wood used in the company's bodies.
It's not surprising that a wood truck was offered, since the first woodie station wagons were built on truck chassis. It was a short step to building wood commercial vehicles. Just as woodie wagons have become desirable, so have woodie trucks.
The Model A Ford has long been a favorite of hot rodders and customizers, thanks to its availability and ease to work on. The chopped coupes and roadsters are well known, but the trucks, with their distinctive mixture of curves and angles are popular subjects as well.
Given the hard life that most trucks lead, and the maintenance-intensive nature of woodie bodies, not many woodie trucks have survived. Max Weinberg's 1931 Ford Model A woodie panel truck is one of those rare survivors. It is still fitted with the original hand-doweled wood panels with which it left the factory more than 75 years ago. Of course they have been expertly refinished to gleam like a piece of fine antique furniture.
Why did Max buy the woodie? Like all the cars he's owned, it calls up specific memories of growing up. "My father always drove woodie wagons, which were always Fords. He even owned them when they went to the fake wood later on. He had a '31 woodie, which unfortunately was long gone by the time I came along. This reminded me of my father's cars."
The woodie that captured Max's fancy was transformed from its humble working roots into a sexy hot rod. Originally built with a 40hp 4-cylinder engine, it now boasts a potent 350hp 350ci Chevrolet V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor, Crane roller lifters and powder coated headers. A three-speed automatic transmission puts the power down to the road through a Ford rear end and chrome wire wheels on fat tires keeps it nailed to the pavement.
Although the conversion was done prior to Max's purchase, the truck has seen major work done on it since. Noted Corvette restorer Dom Salvemini of Vette Dreams in West Babylon, NY, took the Model A in hand and brought it to the next level. He performed a good deal of custom suspension work, installed air conditioning, front bucket seats and a folding bench seat in the rear. The wood side panels were removed and custom-made sliding windows fitted in their place. Oval windows were placed into the rear doors and details were added to truly make it a drummer's ride. The door handles and window cranks reference the owner's profession and Max tells us that the rear load compartment "perfectly fits a 4-piece set."
The woodie has never been shown, but used strictly for pleasure drives on nice days. "It's able to go a lot faster than I ever felt comfortable driving it- it's really well set up" says Max.
Given Max's early and enduring enthusiasm for the songs of the Beach Boys, it's not a far stretch to imagine this Ford woodie heading to the beach for a summer night's party. The new owner of this truck would certainly arrive early and in great style.