Retired cabinetmaker Roger Mills owns a rather rare, very beautiful car. The elegant vehicle in question, affectionately named ‘Lady’, is a 1930 Ford Model A, Town Sedan, which was the ‘top of the line’ model, meaning it comes with all the additional features and comforts.

Henry Ford was known for his disdain of cosmetic vanity as applied to automobiles, and so he left the Model A’s styling to a team led by his son Edsel, even though he would take credit for it despite his son doing more of the work.

Innovations on the outside include additional cowl lights and plenty of silver work, while the inside features pull-down curtains, a fold-down central arm rest in the back seat, and the driver’s seat folds down into a full bed! Much of the interior is original, including the door linings and the ceiling fabric which are now getting close to 100 years olds! The dashboard too, still has the original paintwork with its beautifully detailed pinstriping. In a previous life Lady had been a wedding car, so the seating has been re-upholstered to produce a more luxurious ride.

Roger says he caught the Model A bug in primary school. “A friend’s Dad owned one, and I loved it so much I knew that one day I would own one just as beautiful. Life got in the way, as it does, but four years ago, when time and finances permitted, I decided that the time had come.”

He purchased Lady through Rushmore Motors, vintage car brokers now based in Motueka. Under the bonnet is a 3.2 litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine, which develops 40 hp, and still runs a 6-volt system. Top speed at manufacture was listed as was around 65 mph (105 km/h). The transmission is a conventional, unsynchronized three-speed sliding gear manual, with a single speed reverse.

Roger’s cabinetmaking skills were put to good use to re-create the trunk, which sits proudly on the rear luggage carrier. He researched on line to get the correct dimensions, and the result is very stylish, looking as if it has always been there. 

He regularly drives the car, and in the last four years has clocked up around 10,000 miles. “I like to drive it. It’s a beautiful car and people love to see her on the road. Incidentally, in her lifetime, Lady has clocked up 92,500 original miles, and “still ticks along beautifully.”

If you’re driving around, and you happen to see a deep-green Model A coming your way, check out the registration plate. If it says RP1929, you’ll know its Roger and Lady, so give them wave!

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.