By Vern Parker
Ford Motor Co. built 77,917 Model A-based pickup trucks during the 1929 model
year. Included in that total were both closed cab trucks and roadster pickups.
Windowless roadster pickups began the year selling for $445 but that price
dropped to $430 by the end of the year.
A collector of antique vehicles in Falls Church, Va., ended up with one of the
roadster pickups and about 20 years ago had it restored. Once the restoration
was complete the truck rarely was used during the next 15 years.
In 2005 the owner began to cull his collection of vehicles.
Paul Carroccio was an innocent bystander, not interested in any antique vehicle
in December 2005. He was merely accompanying his brother who was going to look
at the antiques that were for sale.
When the brothers walked into the garage it was the uninterested Carroccio who
spotted the red roadster pickup. He was also the one who purchased the truck.
Because the pickup had long been dormant Carroccio thought it best to return
another day with a trailer. He towed the truck home to Silver Spring, Md.,
where he thoroughly examined his prize.
He was pleasantly surprised to find the four-cylinder, 200.5-cubic-inch engine
in good working order needing only a rebuilt Zenith carburetor to once again
produce 40 horsepower. Like many modern engines, five quarts of oil are needed
to keep all the moving parts lubricated.
Three gallons of coolant keep the engine temperature under control with the
assistance of 19 louvers on each side of the engine hood to let heat escape. A
16-inch fan with two blades draws air through the radiator tucked inside the
bright nickel-plated shell.
Under the seat is where basic tools, spare parts and side curtains are stored.
The single 4.50x21-inch spare tire is positioned as a side mount in the left
front fender. All five tires are mounted on red, 30-spoke wheels.
The 13-foot, 8.25-inch-long truck has no rear bumper and only a single
combination duolight taillight/stoplight on the left rear fender. With a
103.5-inch wheelbase the nimble pickup needs only 34 feet to turn around. The
internal expanding brakes are mechanical.
Carroccio is skeptical about the red color of his pickup. The black fenders
were a Model A mainstay but he has doubts that it was red when it left the
Both of the black running boards have step plates to provide traction when
entering or leaving the cab. Toward the rear of the right running board is a
rack holding three circular cans, a red one for gasoline, yellow for oil and
green for water. It has always been a good practice to carry extra fluids.
Because there are no exterior door handles, access is by reaching inside the
cab and pulling on the inside door handle. The dashboard is painted the same
color as the body of the pickup but everything else is black, the rubber floor
mat, the fabric top and the upholstered seat.
The instruments are clustered in the center of the dashboard. With the car in
motion, Carroccio says the vibration makes it difficult to read the
speedometer. "I was surprised to find a trip odometer,” Carroccio says.
Both gear shift lever and hand brake lever sprout from the floor. Carroccio
finds it easier on the transmission if he double clutches while shifting up or
Lifting the rubber floor mat exposes the wooden floor boards under the driver's
feet where the six-volt battery is secured.
The choke control protrudes from under the right end of the dashboard. At the
hub of the 17-inch, four-spoke steering wheel, near the horn button, is the
lever that operates the 8.5-inch diameter headlights.
With no side windows on the roadster the wing vents keep the wind from
punishing the occupants. If the occupants are starved for fresh air the bottom
of the windshield can be pushed forward to admit more air into the cab. Outside
the windshield, on the cowl, is the cap on the 11-gallon gasoline tank.
The diminutive bed is 59.5-inches long and the floor is composed of five wooden
planks separated by metal runners.
When the top is in the raised position the view out the small plastic rear
window is limited. The entire panel the window is in can be unsnapped, lifted
inward and secured to one of the top bows by straps.
In addition to the mirror attached to the windshield frame, there is an
optional mirror strapped onto the side-mounted spare tire. "It's just jewelry,”
Carroccio says, because the vibration renders it useless.
"It's a fun truck,” Carroccio says, "but it's not something you want to drive
in the winter.”