I finally got behind the wheel of an antique car today, a 1930 Ford Model A Coupe. Not quite a Model T, but I experienced for the first time the heavy steering, poor turning radius, and brakes (or lack of)! Still anticipating my first Model T drive, but the Model A bug may have gotten into me now.
I remember clearly how that felt, and the joy has never left me.
It wasn't an "A", but a '31 Chevrolet Coupe.
The T bug bit me about 3 years later; neither has ever let go.
Model A brakes are fantastic if adjusted properly and in good shape. Yours must need work if they are as bad as you say.
Model A steering also can be excellent, but if the steering box is shot it can be quite heavy.
Many of my 50's cars friends are perpetually trying to make their cars drive like modern iron.
I regularly ask, if one wants to drive modern iron, why not just buy some modern iron ? As I
see it, the period driving experience is at least HALF of the pleasure in owning a vintage car.
I mean, what's the point in making the effort if the mindset is to make it something else ?
My TT drives like an overgrown Radio Flyer wagon with a hardrock stamp mill going full blast
somewhere under the seat. It steers like a home made go cart, brakes ? .... what brakes ? I
have been driving this dog around for over a year now and just discovered they can have brakes
in them IF they have a brake band lining ! I guess I took people literally when they said to drive
it like it has no brakes ! It goes about 20mph if I can stand the vibration, noise, and risk of tossing
some internals. 15 is good, 10 just about right.
I hope to have the engine built and tall gears installed this year to make it *almost* keep up with
a T car. But it will, if driven on the right roads, will still deliver a genuine 1920's Model TT driving
experience, which is why I own a 1920's vehicle, ... the total experience.
Poor turning radius? Wait until you try a T. No such problem there. It turns shorter than most later vehicles.
To clarify a few things, the Model A was actually in poor shape. It was a nice 20 footer, but the drivetrain was awfully worn out, and with that, the brakes and steering and such.
The experience to drive a T came sooner than expected. Because the A was out of commission for today, I got behind the wheel of a 1914 RHD Touring. This was a nice driver, with strong bands and easy steering! I was quite happy with my first drive, and happy that I got such a unique T to do it on!
What is it about people who have an affinity for doing things the old-fashioned way? _They'll write with a fountain pen instead of a ball-point, pop their own corn in a cast-iron skillet, scorn guns and do their target-shooting at an archery range, or fish with a lightweight fly-rod rather than the kind of hefty pole and hi-test line that'll virtually guarantee going home with a plastic bag chock full of the slimy little denizens. _Why do it the hard way?
(And here comes the Marlin Perkins/Mutual of Omaha switcheroo...)
Operating a Model T Ford in modern traffic is definitely doing things the hard way; in fact, it’s challenging to the point of being… well, a bit risky. _Hey, these cars are demanding of skill, and are—as the old adage goes—terribly unforgiving of carelessness, incapacity or neglect. _But with the responsible (and successful) management of such risk comes a grand feeling of accomplishment—you’ve slain the dragon. _That feels good.
Unlike the drivers of vehicles whose computerized gadgets and digital gizmos are beyond the comprehension of a solitary individual, we antiquers become intimately familiar with the very guts of the beast and rediscover arcane skills of maintenance that might confound the kids working at the local service station. _In my experience, it's difficult to find a mechanic who will trust himself to work on a century-old car, so, for an owner, the only other choice is to learn how to do it him/herself. _Fortunately, we Flivverers belong to a brotherhood wherein knowledge, experience—and the occasional, priceless personal assist, somehow seem to arrive when really needed. _Camaraderie goes hand-in-hand with the ownership of one of these wonderful rolling artifacts.
So, why do we do it? _I think it’s a matter of the virtuous purity of simplicity, the greater demand for skill on the part of the practitioner and the challenge of developing those skills. _Sure, these cars are slow as the last day of school before summer, and they handle like a double-decker bus, but the overload of pure, unadulterated history is a palpable experience. _It's not like stepping back in time; it is stepping back in time:_ You'll feel every imperfection in the pavement through the wooden steering wheel; you'll hear the flappity-flap of the canvas top that becomes your aural speedometer. _Your gut will go a little bit giddy as you open the throttle for the mad dash down-hill to gather momentum you'll need on the following up-hill; and the old car will speak volumes of important information to you through every groan and creak, and you'll know what each means.
So what's so darn attractive about doing things the hard way? _It’s the difference between power-boating and sailing with the wind in the canvas. _It’s the difference between a musician who relies on a battalion of electronic effects-pedals and a genuine jazz-man who can do amazing things with a purely acoustic instrument.
Oh, well; you either get it or you don't.
I'm with Royce on the Model A brakes--BUT, few really restore them properly! (Hmm, maybe saying "few" is a bit much; but I've been around a LOT of As who's brakes aren't up to par.
Steering, properly restored is really nice--driving the A is almost like driving a car from the 50s or 60s; fairly modern. However, it does talk back to you a lot more then the newer car, and you still have to adjust spark and mixture and shift with straight-cut gears (IMHO, no biggie, but then I 'cut my teeth' on my Model A--yes I still have it.).
A Model T, well, they have their own peculiarities and ya gotta get used to them too! Although I find changing from driving the A to the modern rig a much easier, almost unnoticeable transition than changing from the T to modern stuff.
And yes, what's with these folks trying to make their "old car" drive like a new one?? Where's the challenge and fun in that??
I have owned model A s for some time and still do. A properly adjusted model A brake system works great as others have said above. My 30 has new drums and all hardware and if you put the pressure to them you can lock the car up at 20mph or 50. Model A s are wonderful cars as well as T s. You can't beat or forget the first ride in a model A or T. My first ride was in the back seat of a 28 sedan when I was 13. My dad's friend who has since passed was a old school car guy and I wanted a model A for 20 years after that ride. Tim
While I really appreciate Henry's T, I am afraid that I have driven A's for many thousands of miles more than T's. The T is a fascinating machine, and should be appreciated and enjoyed for what they are, however when 'Henry made a Lady out of Lizzie' the company created a vehicle that in its own way was as advanced as the T was in 1908. A good A can be used quite comfortably in modern traffic, provided it is driven within its (and the driver's)limits. As for steering and brakes, properly set up, they are more than adequate, and I used to travel long distances in my A's at a steady 60mph, and often somewhat faster..
The wife said roll up windows and closed cab was the next addition to our stable of T's. Found a project and I will reflect back to several Model T and Model A super mechanics who recommended that without question to add the Brake floater kit to the front wheels and adjust
the brakes correctly and to add the shortened pitman arm to make the steering much more responsive and easier to maneuver lock to lock.
Having driven both without and then with, I can tell you that they are two of best additions to a great car/truck. Both items and a wealth of information were obtained from Bratton's Antique Auto Parts in Maryland. Walt Bratton is such a great and knowledgeable Model A Person. Makes driving Model A's a pleasure without detracting from it's originality. Enjoy the past.
I don't know if they have improved the "Brake Floaters" kit, but back when I had one, it was, IMHO, worthless! This was because it did not keep the lower pivot point of the shoes on the backing plate track, which keeps the shoes centered on the drum. My A has all the original components, and I have slid the tires in a panic stop. Properly adjusted and with good components, the brakes are more than adequate.