Eric Weninger grew up around Model A Fords, watching his dad, John Weninger repair and restore them. Watching and learning.
“In the early ’80s, my dad and I did a big Model A truck together … Big Red. That got me bit and I had to have a pickup for myself,” Weninger said.
“This was the first one I did. I was about 16. It was pretty much put together from pieces, some, like the cab, that my dad had, and some that I had collected.” He pieced together a usable bed out of the three he had to choose from.
The truck he built, which he still owns and drives regularly, is a 1929 “square cab” Model A pickup.
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“I’m glad it’s a ’29 because I’m tall (6 feet, 4 inches) and the cab is tall,” he said. Later Model A pickups had a rounded-off cab with less headroom, he said.
“The first engine I had in it was a ‘sort of engine.’ This is the first ‘real engine’ in it,” he said. It is a standard 40-horsepower 4-cylinder Ford, but he rebuilt it to Model B standards. The only upgrades involved switching from a generator to a 6-volt alternator and halogen headlights, along with turn signals, for over-the-road safety.
“I’m pretty proud of this old truck. I wanted to have it ready for my senior graduation party in May of 1985. I was working like crazy to get it done, but I just didn’t make it,” he said. In the roughly 33 years since then, he has logged more than 41,000 miles on the pickup.
Weninger said he was lucky to have four good fenders to bolt onto his truck. The only reproduction pieces he had to buy were a set of running boards. The fenders and running boards were painted gloss black.
The body was painted a special-order color called Dutchess Blue, accented by rechromed stock bumpers. Weninger covered the top and the sun visor in appropriate grained black rubberized material.
Weninger now has a stable of seven Model A’s, including Big Red, the one he and his late father built together. He got involved in two national Model A organizations and began moonlighting from his day job, doing repairs on fellow Model A lovers’ cars.
“My kids are my cars,” says Weninger, who never married. Eventually, he couldn’t keep up with the side work and quit his regular job, starting his own business, “Model A Medic LLC,” 10 years ago. He has done 15 frame-up restorations in that time and now offers a full line of Model A parts and services that range from simple brake jobs to engine rebuilding.
Weninger said he has no fears that with the passing of older Model A collectors, his business eventually will suffer.
“Model A’s have never gone away,” he says. “More and more guys in their 30’s and 40’s are getting into them now. We don’t have any end in sight.”
There may be a re-restoration of his truck somewhere down the line, complete with a new engine and a fresh set of tires. But for now he enjoys taking his ’29 square cab out on the road and cruising at 55 mph, thanks to its high-speed rear end.
Weninger is hoping to finish a Model A roadster pickup in time for the June 24-July 2 National Model A Restorers meet in Branson, Mo. But he knows his trusty closed cab ’29 will be ready and willing to make the trip just in case that project isn’t wrapped up by then.
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