- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 25, 2004

Forty-four years elapsed between the time Douglas Cox, in conjunction with his father, bought the old Model A Ford pickup in January 1960 and when he drove his mother in the restored truck in June 2004.

Mr. Cox was a teenager back then, not old enough to get a drivers license, living on a farm north of Lexington, Ky., in Scott County. His father taught at the University of Kentucky. “He and I had talked several times about building a hot rod,” Mr. Cox says.

Then one day while attending a car show at the state fair in Louisville, Mr. Cox heard his father tell another man that he might get a Ford Model A pickup to restore one day. “I could not believe my ears,” Mr. Cox says. “My dreams of a hot rod began to fade and I could not envision an ancient pickup as something neat.”

The quest for a suitable pickup gathered momentum. Among rejected rusty candidates, a seemingly perfect project truck materialized. A University of Kentucky student from Tennessee had driven to school in a 1930 Ford pickup and had forgotten to either add antifreeze or to drain the radiator the previous winter.

When the temperature dropped below freezing, the cylinder head cracked, disabling the vehicle where it was parked beside his landlady’s house. She was neither amused nor sympathetic. Her ultimatum was to fix it or get rid of the 30-year-old truck.

“I had worked all that past summer and had money of my own,” Mr. Cox says. He put up $50 and with his father’s $100, the deal for the truck was sealed. The purchase was made sight unseen.

A friend towed the car to the Cox farm and there it sat untouched in the barn while Mr. Cox completed high school and college. “There was never time for us to work on it together,” Mr. Cox says. “Upon graduation from college, I entered the service and became a career Army officer,” he adds.

“In the late 1970s and early 1980s Daddy finally got the itch to disassemble the Model A,” Mr. Cox says. “He told me that when I finally retired from the Army we could reassemble it.” At that time the odometer read 52,873 miles.

The remainder of the 1980s passed, as did most of the 1990s as the dismantled truck awaited attention. “Mother is a very tolerant woman,” Mr. Cox says.

In 1997, after 27 years, Mr. Cox retired from military service and returned to Virginia, at which time his father asked him if he wanted to sell the truck. “I told him that I would rather restore it, and I think that made him happy,” Mr. Cox says.

Over several years, Mr. Cox drove or flew to Kentucky several times and hauled boxes filled with Model A parts back to Springfield. Eventually, the entire truck was in his Virginia garage.

Mr. Cox reports that nothing was discarded. “I found the original ‘crown’ door key among some small screws in an old cottage cheese container.”

Before his father died in 2000, Mr. Cox says, “I told him I would restore it and I did.” The restoration of the Cherokee-gray trunk with black fenders consumed about 31/2 years.

The good news was that every part was saved, though unlabeled. The bad news was that Mr. Cox had not taken the truck apart himself and didn’t know how it was supposed to go back together.

The 40-horsepower, four-cylinder engine — manufactured July 10, 1930 — was overhauled along with the three-speed manual non-synchronized transmission. “It’s better if you double-clutch,” Mr. Cox explains. The brakes remain mechanical as originally designed. Fluid capacities are:

• Oil — 5 quarts.

• Fuel — 11 gallons.

• Radiator — 3 gallons.

An updraft carburetor feeds fuel to the engine and the original two-blade fan draws air through the radiator. Both sides of the engine hood have 22 louvers to dissipate the heat.

In the center of the dashboard is an optimistic 80-mph speedometer. “I’ve had it up to 50,” Mr. Cox says.

Unusual among restored Model A pickups is the fact that Mr. Cox retained the original bed, which was in sad condition. Between the rails of the quarter-ton-capacity pickup bed are five white oak slats.

In a nod to safety, Mr. Cox added a taillight on the right side to match the single original on the left.

Even he is amazed at how well the vacuum windshield wiper works. The windshield can be pushed out at the bottom. Air rushing in strikes a baffle that directs air down toward the ankles of the cabin occupants.

Four wooden bows attached to a pair of wooden side rails support the cabin rooftop structure.

Mr. Cox accomplished the restoration of the 1930 Ford in a one-car garage. At one time, he says, the fenders were hanging from the ceiling and the frame was on the wall. “I was very fortunate to have what I had to start with,” Mr. Cox says.

The most difficult part of the restoration was when a decision had to be made. “What would Daddy do?” was the thought in the back of Mr. Cox’s mind that answered the question.

Toward the end of the project his mother, Dorothy, presented him with a gift of an optional 1930 Ford accessory, a chrome-plated quail radiator cap.

Last June Mr. Cox displayed his restored 1930 Model A Ford pickup at the annual Sully Plantation car show.

The most gratifying part of the day was driving home in the pickup with his mother beside him. His father’s presence was felt that day as well, he said.

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