Don Ott of Jefferson stepped in the light-yellow 1931 Model A with black trim to fire it up. One try. Two. The rumble of the restored antique car sounds inviting and memorable.
“That’s the way they sound,” he says through the window as he backed the car out of his garage.
Ott bought the car in 1954 from his father-in-law, who was moving to Minnesota that year and didn’t want to haul it that far. The junk man had offered his father-in-law $18 for the car.
“I told him I wanted the car,” Ott says. “He liked to duck hunt, and he told me ‘Just buy me some shotgun shells,’ so that’s what I did. Pretty good deal.”
When Ott bought the car, it was all black and in rough shape. Still, the motor was in fine shape, so he and wife, Janet, drove the car in a local parade that year. The couple also drove the car to Minnesota to visit his wife’s father.
Ott and his son, Doug, also of Jefferson, began restoring the car in 1993. The restoration, which took about a year and a half, was more the exterior and interior rather than the engine. The engine has stayed in good shape. The car also has its original “ooga” horn, fenders, wheels and more. Ott had the interior reupholstered, including a pocket on the driver’s side door.
They settled on a light-yellow color called Tacoma Cream. Although the color was not original to that particular Model A, it is a color that was used on the vehicle and is true to the time period, Ott says.
He and Janet like to take the car cruising in the summer and drive it in parades now and again. They don’t normally drive long distances — not because the car couldn’t make it, but because it gets about 16 miles a gallon.
Ott laughed a little, remembering when they first bought the car, it could be driven for about a week on 50 cents worth of gas.
Often, when Ott drives the car, he puts a wooden sign on the bumper a friend made for him. Don’s Radiator has been a business in the community since 1960. So his friend painted the sign that reads “Don’s Radiator — a good place to take a leak.” Yes, Ott says, sometimes the sign gets more comments than the car.
The day of the interview was most likely the last the Model A will be out this fall. Ott winterizes the car and pulls it into the garage, where it will remain until May.
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”