Driving a classic car as a daily vehicle creates its own challenges but the rewards make it well worth the effort. Jeff Aronson has owned only one new car to date; of over 40 cars owned, only 4 have been manufactured in the same decade as their purchase and use.
The history includes daily winter driving in cars ranging from an MG Midget to a BMW 2000. Currently a 1966 Land Rover, a 1966 Corvair or a 1980 Triumph TR-7 comprise the cars of choice - depending on road conditions, weather and the last maintenance performed on each vehicle.
Driving a classic car in daily use relies on a sense of self-sufficiency, a willingness to risk breakdowns, and reliance on your own skills or your capacity to engage people with greater mechanical skills. Living the Land Rover Life demands that you place a high value on your own energies and capabilities; for me, it's well worth the effort!
Now The Land Rover Writer must tip his cap to the 29-year old owner of the Ford Model A described in this article from the New York Times (1/14/11). Read the article below, or click here for the original story.
If it intrigues you, he's created a blog on his "year of driving interestingly."
Jonathan Klinger works on his daily driver Ford Model A
After 80 Years, a Model A Motors Home to Detroit
By Mary Chapman (New York Times, January 14, 2011)
DETROIT– While automakers were busy giving last-minute shines to their rides in the CoboCenter here, Jonathan Klinger was double-clutching his way from northern Michigan to the show in a 1930 Model A Ford.
The 270-mile excursion, which would require patience in any weather, let alone during winter, was part of Mr. Klinger’s commitment to drive his Model A, a Tudor sedan, for a year as his regular car. He’s about three months and 4,500 miles into it.
The conceit came about a year ago, during lunch with his boss. “He said if I were truly serious about my love for old cars, this was something I should do,” said Mr. Klinger, the public relations manager for Hagerty Insurance, a Traverse City, Mich., company that specializes in insuring collectors’ cars.
“I firmly believe that people should drive their old cars and not just put them in museums and garages,” he added. “The cars are great to look at, but the real appreciation comes from driving. That’s why I’m doing this.”
Mr. Klinger is only 29, but he favors older cars. A couple of years ago he restored a 1919 Model T Ford pickup, which came to him in parts, their boxes stored for years in the family barn in his hometown of Winnebago, Ill. Mr. Klinger also owns a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe and a 1964 Buick Electra 225. His everyday cars — which, to keep him honest, were stored before he undertook the Model A project — are a 1993 Honda Accord and a 1999 Ford Explorer.
“As far back as I remember, I was interested in anything mechanical, especially if it had a gas engine,” Mr. Klinger said. “We had lots of farmers in our family, so early on I was interested in antique tractors. That grew into older cars, which represents such a neat time in our history in America.”
En route here, the Model A drew plenty of attention. “I stopped to eat in Clare and this lady came in and was asking all the older guys whether that was their car,” he said with a chuckle. “I was the last person she asked. Then we got to talking about how her grandpa had a car like that. That’s the fun part.”
Mr. Klinger’s blue Model A has a 4-cylinder water-cooled engine that produces 40 horsepower, with a 3-speed manual transmission. The vehicle had 52,500 miles on it when he bought it last July, specifically for the yearlong project, for $11,000. There is no radio or power-assisted anything. Mr. Klinger did, however, install a vintage aftermarket heater.
“When you’re on longer trips it gets very comfortable in here, but on short trips around town it doesn’t have a chance to heat up,” said Mr. Klinger, who stashes a blanket, just in case, on the back seat. He also added safety belts, brighter tail lights and an electric-wiper motor.
Mr. Klinger had anticipated driving to the auto show, of course, but also returning the Model A to its birthplace. “I brought it right back home,” he said. “Who knows how long it’s been since it’s been in Detroit. Perhaps not since the factory.”
For the trip south, Mr. Klinger simply tuned up the Model A, which he had nicknamed Sophie, adjusted the brakes and installed new tires. The Model A, which replaced the Model T, is widely regarded as the first Ford to use the standard configuration of driver controls with conventional clutch and brake pedals, gearshift and throttle.
Part of the Model A’s appeal was the availability of parts and fan-club support, said Mr. Klinger, who has a bachelor’s degree in automotive restoration from McPherson College in Kansas. “It’s just a good, simple, reliable car,” he said.
However, before heading to Detroit, Mr. Klinger stocked a toolbox that he installed in front of the grille, between the two fenders. He experienced a head-gasket scare shortly after setting out, which turned out to be a spark plug points issue that resolved itself. Other than that, he reported no problems.
The car tracks pretty well in snow, he said. “But it doesn’t stop as quickly and is slower, so you pay more attention to what you’re doing,” he said. “That makes it safer to drive.”
The car’s top cruising speed is only about 50 miles per hour, so Mr. Klinger’s Detroit trip clocked in at about seven hours. “I took the highway here and every once in a while I was able to meet the bottom speed limit of 55,” he said, adding that he would likely take back roads on the trek home. The car gets about 15 miles per gallon.
“What’s neat about the experience is that on the interstate virtually every exit looks the same, the same hotel chains, same restaurants. But what’s nice is taking secondary roads and going through small towns, and seeing the random old car for sale on the side of the road,” he said.
Visibility can be an issue, as Mr. Klinger, who stands over six feet tall, must lean forward to see traffic lights, which were not overhead when the car was introduced. Mr. Klinger’s Model A has those big running boards, smallish side mirrors and straw-yellow wheels. Because there is no fuel pump, and the tank is in front of the dash, gas is supplied to the carburetor by gravity. When the car is moving, gas can be viewed sloshing around the fuel gauge.
Mr. Klinger is blogging about his project at 365DaysofA.com. He also has driven the car, which has logged more than 57,000 miles, to Illinois over the holidays. In October, he will take a project-ending, celebratory trip to Hershey, Pa., for a car show and swap meet.
“This is all about driving and enjoying,” he said.
With a blast of the ahooga horn, Mr. Klinger dropped off his visitor.
Copyright New York Times 2011
"The Land Rover is not a vehicle, it's a way of life."