They were a staple of the Great Depression, affordable for many, and, perhaps most important, they were durable.
So durable that many have lasted more than 80 years.
They’re known as the Ford Model A, and hundreds will be seen across Wichita throughout the week.
The Wichita A’s, the local Model A Ford club, is hosting this year’s Central Midwest meet. The chapter is part of the Model A Ford Club of America, which holds meets throughout the country for Model A enthusiasts.
For some like Tom Jamison of Iowa, the Model A has stayed in his family for generations. In 1931, Jamison’s great-grandfather bought the Model A that Jamison drove to Wichita, and it has been in his possession since 1974.
“It’s the intrigue to know that you can get them going,” Jamison said as he tinkered with the car. “The maintenance schedule back then would make today’s drivers cringe, but there’s a lot more reliable parts available today.”
Jamison was the host for the Central Midwest’s regional meet last year in Des Moines. Like many others, Jamison drove his Model A thousands of miles for the weeklong event. Others will come from as far as New Mexico, Idaho and Virginia.
Some brought their Model A’s to Wichita on trailers, but most drove them on the highways, said Claudia Ellerman, one of the meet’s organizers. The cars’ top speeds are only about 45 to 55 mph, so many of their drivers try to avoid the interstate.
“It’s a great way to see parts of the country,” she said.
While many have had their Model A’s in their families for generations, more have taken up restoring the cars as a hobby. Dick Przywitowski and his wife, Lois, drove their Model A to Wichita from Lafayette, Colo. They bought it about 20 years ago as a restoration project.
“It’s kind of like the VW Beetle,” Dick Przywitowski said. “It’s sort of a cult car.”
Dennis Ellerman, Claudia Ellerman’s husband, said many liked the Model A because of how easy it was to maintain.
“They were simple enough that the average guy could work on them,” Dennis Ellerman said.
The Model A’s require their share of maintenance today, but the people who own them really like what they do, Dennis Ellerman said.
“It takes some heart and soul, some cash and a lot of your time, but it’s worth it,” he said.
The meet will host activities such as tours of the Sedgwick County Zoo and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve as well as many car-related events for the meet’s participants.
The Wichita A’s meet on the fourth Monday of each month at Minisa Park at 7 p.m.