There is something truly remarkable about the Model A, not the Fords it spawned, but its Canadian owner, Jerry Jukes. For in the early 30s, he was far ahead of the curve as he stoked that spark that sparked dozens of other engines, such as Fiat’s Enzo and the rest of the Ferrari family. He did it with great consistency, and without the hysterical hand cranking he heard so many guzzlers do today.
His three-stroke engine is singularly capable. It goes from low to high power in an unprecedented moment, and in weight reduction it is among the best diesels on the market today. It is also reasonably efficient, even though it lacks torque and doesn’t get much—only 15 to 20 RPH. (17.3 at idle.) Although a single six-cylinder engine by today’s standards was unthinkable, it was now the norm. It is the car that paved the way for the supercharged, supercharged, anything-can-go, fuel-injected Camaro. The history of the Model A is how an automobile that wasn’t particularly sexy turned out to be a big seller and a highly productive engine.
Jerry Jukes had that same quality. He was never flashy, but his application of an engine inspired dozens of tech companies, including Pratt & Whitney, Honeywell, and Pratt & Whitney, to integrate turbochargers and turbos into their products. In 1967, he purchased the F&F Silvertone factory in Chicopee, MA, and is still there today. He was known for the aluminum body and for making his own starters, spark plugs, and filters.
“He was a rah-rah guy,” said his grandson, David. “He was one of those people who always came up with the idea to do something for the underdog. It just so happened he was one of those ‘back in the day’ people.”
As good as the gasoline engine he founded was, the gasoline-electric drivetrain, the Model A proved itself the province of other things, especially horsepower. Still, it produced a millimeter-perfect ratio of torque to torque, something high tech engineers are still trying to replicate.
Jerry continued to do things his way until his death in 1994, and he took his family with him for 50 years. The Model A certainly paved the way for Harley-Davidson to have its supercharged V-twin, which was an entirely different story.
Know your history, you learn from it. All the hybrids, electric cars, and fuel-engineered rear-drive cars of the future aren’t what you might think they are; they are very much inspired by a lightweight muscle car from the 30s. They may not offer more than they will for the same money, but they sure do remind you who you really are—an automotive heritage buff.
Buy one of the oldest and grandest luxury and performance cars in history, the Model A, and one way or another you’ll be telling the story, too.