Before I purchased my car, I was told that it was a 1928 Model-A Fordor Leatherback. Through my research on the Internet, I discovered several ways in which to substantiate these claims. I will describe each of the steps that can be used for my year and model of car, as well as ongoing identification of the various parts.
The identification of my car began in early January of 1998.
There are three major areas of identification for this particular year and model car, the engine, body, and frame. It is important to check all three areas. This will allow you to identify at least the year of your car, or whether you have a car that may have been assembled from more than one year or make.
It is important to note that the engine identification is not a concrete method for identifying the year of your car. The first and most obvious, but not concrete, way to help identify the year of the car is to locate the engine identification number. This number is stamped on the left side of the engine block just below the cylinder head. The engine number is proceeded with a alpha character, usually the letter "A".
The "Model-A Ford Restoration Handbook" by Floyd Clymer helped me identify the year of the engine. From the book I determined that this engine was manufactured in late 1930. Sound disappointing not having the original 1928 motor? No, not at all! As wear took its toll on these original engines, some were replaced using the newer models. They all fit. As you can see from the photo, this engine is in poor shape and has been through some type of restoration in the past(orange engine paint).
The following table shows the years of engine manufacturing:
Serial Number Year of Manufacture
0000001 through 0005275 ........................1927
0005276 through 0810122 ........................1928
0810123 through 2742695 ........................1929
2742696 through 4237500 ........................1930
4237501 through 4830806 ........................1931
4830807 through 4849340 ........................1932
I'm having fun identifying the various components of my car. It is quite a learning experience, not only for identifying the major areas of the car, but also learning the terminology and the various components that make up the car.
Identifying the body of your car is not too difficult. A picture and help from an experienced Model-A'er should help pin point what you need to know. There are different ways for identifying the body of your car. This is dependent on the year and make.
For my car, I have been very lucky. I discovered that there is someone at the MAFCA that has been researching the body assembly plant numbers and body style plate numbers.
The body on this car was assembled on October 13, 1928. This date is stamped on the upper left side of the firewall (from the drivers point of view), just above the first seam.
The body identification plate on my car is located on the passenger side rail and reads 190-52800. I understand that the 190 indicates a Fordor body by Briggs and the 52800 is a sequential number indicating the Fordor body that was assembled.
It is my understanding that the Ford Motor Company started assembling 1929 models in November of 1928. Knowing that there were many changes from the beginning of 1928, I felt that I needed to identify more with this body.
I discovered that there was a raised bead stamped into the cardboard material outlining of the door panels. At first glance I couldn't find the bead. In a previous makeshift restoration, the restorer reversed the door panels. Covering the panels again with material, the restorer did not stitch the raised beads. Opening the material, I discovered stitching for the raised bead.
Another identifying mark for the 1928 body is the dash rail member located behind the dash panel. On the 1928 models this member was made of wood, later models were constructed of metal.
I was also confused by the top wood construction. It appears that during 1928 the model-a went through many changes. Where the earlier model-a Fordors were constructed using more wood for the top, my Fordor has wood and metal supports holding the top wood.
I feel confident that the body and frame belong together. It appears that the frame engine number stamp coincides with the date/identification stamps on the body.