1930 Ford Model A
Car shows and riding motorcycles in the mountains keep David and Annie Livingston returning to Pigeon Forge after nearly 30-years, sometimes twice a year. Two car shows they’re particularly fond of and like to attend are Shades of the Past and Fall Rod Run. The couple admire and appreciate looking at classic and custom-made cars—some original, some preserved and some modified into something a little more modern or unique. The out-of-doors serves as the backdrop for hundreds—perhaps thousands— of show cars lined up on either side of a five-mile strip—some lines are two and three cars deep. Collectors ride up and down the strip for customers and spectators alike. It’s a sight that thrills most any car enthusiast.
In the fall of 2018, David and Annie became more than spectators. After an eventful trip, they returned home as new owners of a bright and shiny 1930 Ford Model A.
“We didn’t go with the intention of buying a car, but when Annie saw that one, she fell in love with it,” says David. “The (sellers) didn’t accept checks, so we had to leave Pigeon Forge one morning, come back to Newberry, and then drive back to Tennessee with cash—talk about sitting on pins and needles!” With help from Newberry friends, they loaded-up their Model A on a double-deck racecar trailer and brought their new baby home.
Model A’s have plenty of features to admire, but something special caught Annie’s eye. “It was the color,” she says. “I think the color is what attracts most people. It looks like a Christmas ornament—and it’s already dressed-up for the Christmas Parade!”
The Livingston’s planned on getting a vintage car “one day,” but never dreamed of buying anything older than a 1956 or ‘57. The almost 90-year old Model A has outlived most people —and looks mighty spiffy for its age.
David says the car was made in a simpler time, so the engine is pretty easy for him to care for, and when there’s a problem, he can pretty much target and correct it—thanks to his daddy. As a child, David’s father taught him how to rebuild engines, thus laying the foundation for the rest of his life. As the owner of Livingston’s Service Center in downtown Newberry, and a mechanic by trade, David smiles and says the car is a big ol’ toy.
“Wireless technology makes it a lot more fun. A remote cutout on the exhausts has an electric motor on it and the receiver is under the dash, so you just press the button and it opens the gate-valve and you have straight headers. The windshield tilts out to let in fresh air, because back in the 30’s, cars didn’t have air conditioning.”
With a 350 Chevrolet engine, David’s driven the car comfortably at speeds up to 70-miles per hour. The back wheels have skinny tires—and strong springs don’t allow for much cushion—so poor road conditions can be hard on the back end of both the car and passenger.
The Ford Model A, which was only produced from 1927 to 1931, has suicide doors (a term for an automobile door hinged at its rear rather than the front). Colorful and comfortable, the car has four doors and seating for four—a fifth person can squeeze in the back seat, but that’s generally not the preferred method of riding. Red leather interior smells rich and earthy, and its sleek exterior looks even more stunning against Newberry’s beautiful skyline. The 1930’s classic lights up our city streets and country roads as it moves through town and county.
Purchased “As Is”, David says he modified or improved the car with his own additions.
“I’ve done a few things to it that I really didn’t necessarily have to do. I put on a set of Flow Master mufflers, a set of remote cut-outs, a “Ah-ooh-ga” horn, and removed the gas tank to repair gas gauge sending unit. The body gets wider at the back and you can’t see with the side mirrors, so I bought a back-up camera. I’ve got it wired to stay on all the time so I can see while I’m driving. I bought a portable Bluetooth speaker that connects to my smartphone so we can listen to the radio when we’re out riding, and I added a thermostat to control the coolant fans and weather-stripping on the doors to keep out cold air.”
Loving retirement, David and Annie —and their little dog, Gracie—are excited with their purchase—and so is most of Newberry. When people see the Livingston’s in their vintage Ford, they show their appreciation with a thumbs up or honk of the horn. People like to go for rides, take pictures and record videos. According to Annie, “It’s just a car that makes everyone happy.”
David says he enjoys taking people for rides—especially his mother, Dorothy “Dot” Livingston. “I only wish Daddy could have lived to see it. He would have loved it,” he says.
“We plan on driving it more now that it’s starting to warm-up,” says Annie. “We like to just get out and ride and Gracie, loves riding in it—she can see out of the front window so good!”
Two great big thumbs up for one of Newberry’s most impressive Christmas ornaments—the 1930 Ford Model A.
Photographs by Ted B. Williams