The Ford Model A doesn't get the historical respect of its 15-million-unit predecessor, the Model T, nor is it as beloved as the 1932 Ford V8 which followed. But when the Model A went on sale on December 2, 1927, it was an important transitional model for Ford.
Following the unparalleled success of the Model T, Ford had been reluctant to develop a new model, or even upgrade the T with features that were increasingly driving customers to other brands. The Model A was the first Ford to feature modern controls, with clutch, brake and throttle pedals, and a gearshift lever sprouting out of the center of the front floorboards.
Selling for as little as $365, the Model A was a huge success. Ford built almost five million units over five years. Had it not unveiled the A when it did, the Blue Oval might have met the same fate as many auto manufacturers of the 1920s that didn't see the other side of the Great Depression.
Surprisingly enough, this 84-year-old car can actually provide somewhat serviceable transportation today, although with limitations. While its four-cylinder engine provides fuel economy in the high 20's, Interstate travel is a bit beyond its meager 40 horsepower output. Mechanical drum brakes are the weakest point in the A's specifications, with a lack of climate control rating a distant second.
For more on what it's like to drive an A everyday, check out the 365 Days of A blog.