1931 Ford Victoria - SOLD
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The honest patina has its own appeal that we like very much.

When we were hiring a mechanic for our shop, the final step of the interview was to put the applicant in this 1931 Ford Model A Victoria and tell him to make it run. No hints, no direction, just see if he can figure out this simple, rugged, reliable machine. And that illustrates all that’s great about the Ford Model A: they will run practically forever and they teach you almost everything you need to know about owning, maintaining, and driving an old car. And honestly, for the money there just aren’t many cars that are prettier.

The Victoria body style is not quite a tudor sedan and not quite a coupe, a body style that dates back to the horse-drawn coach era and represents personal luxury at its best. Introduced late in the 1930 model year, the Victoria offered more style than other closed bodies and was one of the more expensive offerings at $580. There were two versions, a basic Victoria with a steel roof and the upscale “leatherback” models like this lovely two-tone green example, which included a padded roof. The colors are traditional Victoria, Elkpoint Green and Kewanee Green with Apple Green pinstripes and wheels, and it’s as elegant a combination as you’ll find on a Model A. It was restored perhaps 25 years ago and has been used as a Model A should be: shows, parades, tours, and light driving around town. We don’t know the details of the restoration, but it was clearly very well done, as the paint, while showing some signs of age, carries a soft gloss that’s entirely appropriate for a car of the ‘30s. There are no signs of rust or improper repairs underneath and only one or two spots where it’s getting a little thin thanks to decades of buffing and waxing. The honest patina has its own appeal that we like very much. The black fenders have been painted more recently and look great and all six wheels were refinished two years ago, so it’s ready to go.

Leatherback Victorias were known as “Deluxe” models in the Ford vernacular, which included upgrades like the cowl lights, but this particular Victoria is heavily optioned with things like dual sidemounts with matching covers, a rear-mounted trunk rack with fitted trunk, step plates, and dual taillights. They make the simple little Model A look grown up and impressive and improve touring comfort and safety. The stainless steel trim is in excellent shape, with the painted insert at the top of the radiator shell denoting a 1931 model, and the chrome bumpers are in excellent condition. It is no longer a show car, but it really looks good.

The interior of the Victoria shines with its luxurious brown mohair upholstery, which is very similar to the fabrics found in closed sedans from Lincoln and Cadillac. Front bucket seats make it easy to climb into the back seat area and are supportive enough for all-day touring. There’s some light wear on the driver’s seat and the flap of cloth that covers the gap between the seat back and seat bottom has come loose, but overall there are few complaints inside. Closed Fords received pretty woodgrained garnish moldings on the dash and windows, and the floor is covered in carpets, not rubber mats as with the open cars. The familiar dashboard is painted and striped to match the bodywork and the big hard rubber steering wheel will look familiar to anyone who has ever driven an A. The controls are simple: headlights in the center of the wheel, spark advance on the left, throttle on the right, and a three-speed manual shifter with the standard shift pattern is in the center of the floor. The gauges consist of a fuel gauge directly tied to the cowl-mounted gas tank, an ammeter, a speedometer, and an aftermarket oil pressure gauge—a welcome upgrade that goes hand-in-hand with the oil pump working inside the engine to keep things healthy. You’ll also note an aftermarket turn signal apparatus on the steering column, which is a great addition for safety in today’s world, and that’s the choke/carburetor adjustment knob over on the far right. The door panels, carpets, and headliner remain in very good condition and the luxurious rear compartment even includes silk shades for the windows! The rear-mounted trunk offers decent space for spare parts, tools, or cleaning supplies and makes touring a real pleasure.

The Model A’s stout little four-cylinder engine really needs no introduction. On paper, its specifications seem modest, but the torquey little powerplant pulls the Vicky around with genuine enthusiasm. It isn’t this car’s original engine but a rebuilt crate motor installed about 10 years ago and it runs superbly. We chose this car for the mechanics’ test simply because it’s a reliable runner that’s easy to start once you know what you’re doing. Turn on the gas, turn on the ignition, pull the choke out about an inch, and hit the starter. About five seconds later, you should have a running Model A that settles into an even idle with no hiccups or other bad habits. It’s also surprisingly smooth for a Model A engine and has the familiar soundtrack that is part of why Model As are so beloved. It’s properly dressed in Ford Green engine enamel and as far as we can see, it’s completely stock without any of the questionable “upgrades” that so many of these cars receive. A Zenith updraft carburetor handles the gas, the standard distributor with flat copper electrodes fires the plugs, and cast iron manifolds handle the rest. The only notable modification we see is a fuse added to the ignition circuit, which is really a good idea for safety purposes. A 6-volt generator still makes the electricity and seems to have no problem keeping the battery topped up—you’ll see the ammeter twitch now and then when it needs a little extra juice, but otherwise hovers right around 0. The water pump has a stainless shaft and leakless bearings and the standard 2-blade fan keeps things cool, although we might consider upgrading to a 4-blade fan if you live in a warmer climate. Things like the hose clamps, splash shields, wiring, and fittings are all quite correct and it’s easy to see why these cars are so durable and reliable.

The reason we like to call Model As the ideal starter collectable is because they teach you all about driving an old car, and the first thing you’ll learn is double-clutching. Shifter action is light and easy once you master the quick bump-bump of the clutch pedal and the ratios are well-chosen to make the A feel peppy around town. In high gear, it’ll cruise happily at 45-50 MPH all day and it never feels like a rolling road block. The chassis, like the engine bay, was restored at some point but has been driven and used since then so it’s no longer shiny and perfect. The good news is that Model A floors are wood, so no worries about rust and the frame is practically indestructible. Simple transverse leaf springs ride surprisingly well in the luxurious Victoria and the mechanical brakes (another learning moment) are decent but you need to appreciate their limits—this is not a modern sports car! As I mentioned, the 19-inch welded wire wheels were refinished a few years ago and wear fresh 4.50/4.75-19 Lucas blackwall tires that are exactly the right choice.

I grew up riding in my father’s Model A and that’s an experience no kid should go without. If you’re just starting out in the hobby, there’s no better place to get acquainted with an old car than a Model A. And if you’re already a veteran, why doesn’t your collection have one of these in it? They always run, they’re easy to fix, tech support and parts are plentiful, and it’s shockingly affordable. What have you got to lose? Call today!

Vehicle: 1931 Ford Victoria
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 113108
Mileage: 23,182
VIN: 4221962
Engine: 200 cubic inch inline-4
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 3.54
Wheelbase: 103.5 inches
Wheels: 19-inch wire wheels
Tires: 4.00/4.75-19 Lucas
Exterior Color: Green
Interior Color: Brown mohair cloth
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