THE STORY OF AN AMERICAN PIECE OF HISTORY KEPT AS LEGACY
A CAR OWNED BY AMERICA’S SWEETHEART BACK IN ‘20s: FORD MODEL A
A car collector was offered to buy an American piece of history. The 1928 Ford Model A was owned by the America’s Sweetheart back in 1920’s, Mary Pickford. Let’s get to know the story of how it came to the hands of this car collector.
The Reason Behind The Making Of The Model A
The height of the fame for the Model “T” was back in the “Roaring Twenties.” Henry Ford strongly believed that this car will reign for so long that it could bring him and the company a profitable future. But it came at a time when competitors, especially Chevrolet released advanced new cars back in that period that’s why Ford was left behind. It was Henry’s son Edsel who first dared to accept this fate. However, he later convinced Henry Ford that it was about time to manufacture a completely new car and leave his most precious Model “T.”
The new car must be far different from the former Model “T.” Therefore, Henry Ford said that the new car will start the new line.
It brought overflowing excitement for the automotive world when the new Model “A” was launched on December 2, 1927. Over 10 million car enthusiasts and fans were estimated to have seen the new cars through its two days in showrooms all throughout the globe.
Having a new Model “A” meant that you were someone who either had incredible wealth or at the very least great connections. Well-known people, financiers, industrialists, and even film stars sent their letters directly to Edsel Ford begging for a car, but only few people were lucky enough. Among them was the movie star Douglas Fairbanks who got the rare chance to buy the car as a holiday gift for his wife, Mary Pickford.
National Auto Museum, Reno – Mary Pickford’s 1928 Ford Model A
Model: “A” Sport Coupe (Ser. No. A1154, Eng. No. A1154)
Built by: Ford Motor Co., Detroit, Michigan
Production: 79, 831
Engine: 4 Cylinder, 40 H.P.
Bore: 3-7/8 in.
Stroke: 4-1/4 in.
Displacement: 200.5 cu. in.
The Model A has a stylish body designed by Ford’s son Edsel. It was the first car to consist of standard driver controls and windshield safety glass. It cost $550 – a price which makes it a star in its own right.
The Model A Preserved As A Legacy
When Pickford and Fairbanks divorced in 1936, the car was later on traded in to the Hillcrest Motor Company on Hollywood Bouleward. From there, it was bought by a Pickford fan T.F. Hartness. Hartness brought the car to the tiny hamlet of Jane, Hamlet.
Hartness wanted to keep the car as a legacy for future generations. That is why he wrote a letter to William F. Harrah, a renowned Nevada gaming pioneer and car collector. He intended to sell the car to him, knowing Harrah’s pride and passion for pieces of history.
In Hartness’ message to Harrah: “It appealed to me that you would take pride in showing it off to your Hollywood friends. You know that there was only one Mary Pickford and one Mr. Henry Ford. There was never a car that was known by so many people.”
Today, the Model A which was once a holiday present to the most famous America’s Sweetheart Mary Pickford was kept permanently in the Biggest Little City in the world. It was now part of the Harrah Collection at the National Automobile Museum in Reno. It stands proud along with more or less than 1,400 vintage rides. Each has its own distinct story to tell about the famous, the rich, and the best among Fords and fenders.
References and Photo Credits:
Amhearst, P. (Summer 2015). 1928 Ford Model A Sport Coupe. American Roas, Volume 8 (Number 2), pp. 72-73.