A West Richland man is getting national attention for reviving a 1930 Ford Model A Tudor.
Tom Eldhardt is featured in the December issue of Hemmings Classic Car, a magazine aimed at car collectors. He was able to restart the car he inherited from his mother after she died in 2004, even though it hadn’t run in 40 years.
Eldhardt has taken the car to several shows, including ones in Boise and Bend, Ore. But it was at a 2014 show in Puyallup where he caught the eye of Jeff Koch, a photographer and writer for several Hemmings publications. Koch told Eldhardt that he would like to feature the car.
It wasn’t until September 2015 that Eldhardt heard from Mark McCourt, a writer with Hemmings. Eldhardt said McCourt asked him to write up the story of his car and email it to him.
“He took my story and fluffed it up a bit — you know how you guys are,” Eldhardt told the Herald.
Eldhardt read over the story and returned it to McCourt with a few minor corrections, he said.
The four-page spread tells the story of how Eldhardt’s late father, Leo, loved the 1929 Model A Tudor he got as his first car in 1937. Leo decided to take on a new project in 1967, as Tom was graduating high school, after a friend told him about another Tudor sitting in a garage in Kennewick “filled with stuff and covered with five years’ worth of boxes.”
Leo paid $250 for the car, less than the $495 it originally sold for, and had it running the next day. Tom drove the car until he graduated college, moved into his own apartment and bought a 1967 Ford Galaxie. His father parked the car behind his garage in 1972.
Tom inherited the Model A and five other classic Fords in 2004, when his mother died (Leo died in 1986). He became interested in getting the car back on the road in 2011, when his wife, Robin, joined the Columbia Basin Model A Club. He was able to get it running with minor maintenance.
Tom’s car differs from many running Model A cars because it hasn’t been restored, he said. But people tend to gravitate to his car when it is lined up with restored models at events.
“It takes them back to their first car and the work they put into them,” he said.
Tom still enjoys taking the Tudor out for a 30-minute drive every couple weeks.
The Columbia Basin Model A Club is celebrating its 45th anniversary and has 42 members, said Jan Jackson, vice president of the group. It is fairly common for it to get national publicity, since a couple members were recently featured in The Restorer, the Model A Ford Club of America’s magazine.
The club has several great stories, including one member who owned five Model A cars, with the intention of giving one to each of his children, Jackson said.
“He finally realized they didn’t have the same dream he did and sold the cars and gave them the money, instead,” he said.
Jackson has owned his 1930 Model A Sport Coupe for 50 years, which isn’t the longest of any club member, he said. Another has owned one for 55 years.
The steel used in the Model A, which was manufactured from 1927-31, has made many of them last, Jackson said. That makes them popular among collectors.
“There are not a lot of any other cars because a lot of other cars were made with wood in them,” he said. “If you are looking for a 1930s Chevy, they are going to be hard to find because they usually rot.”