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Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan
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Before and after pictures of Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor sedan.

From an early age, Isaiah Garcia was drawn to days gone by, its music and its automobiles. There was something in particular about the Ford Model A that just attracted him, like a moth to a flame. In 2013 while still a young man establishing a business and supporting a growing young family, he nonetheless decided to pursue his dream of owning a truly beautiful classic car. The one he found had, as they say, good bones but would need a frame off restoration to reach the high standards Isaiah demands in his classic cars. Experience with previous restorations beginning at the age of seventeen would stand him in good stead. Amazingly for a young person in this day and age, he planned to do as much of the work as possible himself. This included the chassis, the engine, the bodywork including paint, the roof, the interior including the seats, all the wiring and even the license plates. Below are pictures of the project from start to finish.

Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor as purchased in 2013

Not thinking he could afford a really great Ford Model A, Isaiah's original thought was to buy an old beater and turn it into a hot rod. Despite some pressure from friends to continue down that road, when he found the 1931 Tudor actually was in pretty good shape and still had good bones, he decided to pursue restoring it to the best of his ability.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia as purchased in 2013
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia as purchased in 2013
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia as purchased in 2013
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia as purchased in 2013
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia as purchased in 2013
Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor restoration project - bodywork

Isaiah did virtually all the labor on the bodywork himself. This included disassembly then stripping down the old paint. What he found as he went down through the layers of paint applied over the years was that the original body color was a rich gloss black, not something you find on Model As very often. He decided to return the car back to its original appearance. The only work he did not do was a little welding repair work, which was done by a friend very experienced in this area.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - bodywork restoration
Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor restoration project - chassis

Isaiah did almost all the labor on the chassis and undercarriage as well. He tried to get as much bodywork done before he was obliged to remove it from the frame. To make working in a small garage easier, he fabricated a jig on which to place the body. Taking all the sub frame components apart and cleaning them was the least fun part of the project. There was little fun involved in de-greasing and sanding all the steering and suspension parts. While he did send the chassis out to be professionally sandblasted and powder coated, he did everything else himself, a process that took at least four months and seemed longer.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - chassis/undercarriage restoration
Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor restoration project - engine

Once again, Isaiah did almost all the labor on the engine and transmission. Fortunately the latter was in pretty good shape but his first view of the engine was certainly not inspiring. But looks can be deceiving. After dismantling it completely, he sent the block out to be tested at a professional shop and the news was good. Properly cleaned and its cylinders honed, Isaiah set about putting it all back together and now it runs as it was brand new. Isaiah found parts on the internet and in catalogs, at swap meets and also from Alamo As member Jay Pearcy, whom Isaiah found through a Craiglist advert. Jay, who has sadly passed since this project was completed, was one of San Antonio's most meticulous Model A restorers and he became something of a mentor to Isaiah. Jay always went by the book, which is to say the MAFCA and MARC restoration guides. Even if he knew the answer, he always referred to the books, because they provided the guidance needed to make sure someone did not use the wrong year parts or procedures. At the level of nuts and bolts, there can be significant differences between a 30 and a 31. Jay advocated at all times that Isaiah go for maximum accuracy and this sat very well with both of them.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - engine restoration
Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor restoration project - roof

Replacing a roof on a Ford Model A Tudor is a really ambitious project for the beginner. Let's just say that despite the availability of complete kits from national suppliers, the opportunities for it all to go terribly wrong are plentiful, leading to something that let's in rain, is noisy, and is unsightly as well. However, with patience and dedication to the task, it is possible for some people to get it right the first time. While purists might find fault, down in in Texas, you really do need the most insulation you can put up there without making it look absurd.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor restoration project - interior

It was while stripping back the interior to reveal the car's bones that Isaiah decided to pursue a proper restoration as opposed to turning it into a hot rod. The exposed structure of the car was in such good condition, it would reward the huge amount of time, effort and money that such a project would require. Once again, Isaiah did almost all the work involved in recreating the period correct look for the 1931 Ford Model A Tudor, except for sending out the dashboard to be hydro-dipped for that cool wood effect look.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - interior.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - interior.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - interior.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - roof project.
Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor restoration project - seats

Not only did Isaiah find the original color of the 1931 Ford Model A Tudor under layers of paint applied over the decades, imagine his delight at finding the original upholstery under several layers of 1960s style vinyl on the front seats. The rear bench was less lucky and not something anyone would want to sit on. Noted vehicle interior specialist vendor LeBaron Bonney was able to supply a full set of seat covers that were almost identical to the originals but Isaiah had the joy of installing it after stripping down the seats to bare metal and re-padding them layer by layer. He sometimes took this part of the project to his business, a combination hair-styling salon and barber shop he runs with his wife, called Studio 775, in LaVernia, Texas, where he worked on them between customers.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - seats.
Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor restoration project - license plate

Ultimately, the quality of any restoration rests upon attention to details. Any car can be lashed together and made to run, even quite well, but people doing high quality work will want to ensure that the wiring harness, for example, looks correct as well as "merely" working well enough. Parts will be found on the car that are good but incorrect, such as the radiator shell on this one. Others will be completely missing and need to be found. This is where swap meets come in. One detail that everyone notices is the license plates. As you can see, Isaiah acquired a pretty rough correct set for 1931 and restored them, too.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - license plates.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - license plates.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - license plates.
Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor restoration project - family

Life doesn't stop just because you are embarked on a three year ground-up Ford Model A restoration project. The key thing is to have an understanding wife who keeps her opinion about the amount of time, money and energy going into the project to herself and patiently waits, even while pregnant, for the madness to end. There are worse things to deal with in life than a husband who piles everyone into his half-finished old car to celebrate the installation of its rear seat, Involving the kids is important too. Giving them some ownership of the project helps. Isaiah's kids came up with the name Stanley for this 1931 Ford Model A, and Stanley it is. Crystal has learned how to drive it and now she and the kids get to enjoy the car in parades and other events.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - family involvement.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - family involvement.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - family involvement.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - family involvement.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - family involvement.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - family involvement.
Isaiah Garcia's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor restoration project - finished

Imagine talking your newly restored car to its first show and coming home with an award. Everyone who has ever restored a vehicle will be aware that a few compromises were made along the way, and some decisions may or not be approved of by the the standing army of self-ordained critics one encounters in life. Getting approval from one's peers, such as Jay Pearcy, a tough person to impress, is deeply gratifying - people who have walked the walk, not just talked the talk. Isaiah was welcomed into the San Antonio Ford Model A club, the Alamo As with open arms. Attracting young people into the hobby is the holy grail of the Model A world and here comes this handsome young entrepreneur with his lovely family and wonderfully self-restored Model A ! Since completing the restoration of his 1931 Ford Model A Tudor sedan in 2016, Isaiah has already taken part in a number of club events, plus various shows, parades and even the huge state wide "Texas Tour." Since completing the Model A, Isaiah has worked on his own stand alone car storage and restoration building. His next big project will be restoring his father's 1972 Chevrolet C10 pick-up truck. And you never know, another worthy Model A just might end-up there sooner or later, for his wife or one of his sons.

1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.
1931 Ford Model A Tudor owned by Isaiah Garcia - the finished product.