The Ford Model A was introduced in 1903. It was a vehicle meant to embody principles that Henry Ford deemed important - simplicity, economy and high volume.
Producing automobiles was an expensive task, and Ford's cash balance was very low in July of 1903. The company's credibility with investors was exhausted, and income was slow. The survival of the company came down to July 13, 1903, when three customers made the first payments to the company. Of those three vehicles purchased, only one has survived, with only five owners since it left Detroit. The Model A Tonneau with chassis number 30 was sold to Herber L. McNary of Britt, Iowa.
The years that immediately followed were rough for the Ford Motor Company. It would take several years and many false starts before Ford's vision of his automobile business would finally come to reality.
The Ford Model A was powered by an opposed two-cylinder engine that displaced 100 cubic-inches and produced around eight horsepower. It rode on a 72-inch wheelbase and weighed roughly 1,250 pounds depending on the coachwork.
The first three purchasers of the Ford product were Dr. E. Pfenning who sent his full payment of $850 ($750 for the Model A Ford and $100 for the tonneau body) by the 13th of July. The Indiana Automobile Company sent a $300 deposit and Herbert L. McNary sent a $170 deposit against an $880 order for a Model A with Tonneau and $30 of Ford options. The total money received - $1,320 - would help keep the Ford Motor Company in business. The next fifteen months that followed, 1,700 Model A Fords would roll out of the Mack Avenue plant.
Dr. Pfenning got chassis number 11, Indiana Automobile received chassis number 9, and Mr. McNary got #30. There was apparently, no sequence to the numbers of the cars. Thus, there is no way to determine which vehicle was completed first.
The Ford cars were built in batches in one large assembly room. Parts were attached to the different chassis, and when they were finished (in no particular order), the cars were test driven before being brought in for improvements.
Mr. herbert L. McNary was a butter maker at a creamery in Britt, Iowa. The car would be kept in their care for about fifty years until - after much negotiation - it was acquired by Harry E. Burd of Waterloo, Iowa. Burd had it restored by Lloyd Sievers.
In 1961, the car was sold to a Swiss Ford dealer. It would remain in Europe, on display at Ford's European headquarters in Cologne and in other locations, until the previous owner acquired it in 2001. In 2007, it was acquired by the late Mr. John M. O'Quinn.
In 2010, this car was offered for sale at the 'Sports & Classics of Monterey' presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $600,000 - $800,000. The car would leave the auction unsold. The high bid of $325,000 was not enough to satisfy the cars reserve.