Ford A Racer: Homemade pre-war racer

Hardy Mutschler
Ford A Racer
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D he first course is at the bottom left, says Thomas, and adds in addition that the brakes, well, do not decelerate so hard. Okay, hit the clutch, turn on the ignition, press the start button. The four-cylinder buzzes, the crankshaft rotates in momentum, crashes, the first is in, gas, clutch loose.

We drive, or better: hop the first few meters with the 3.3-liter. The clutch grips - or it doesn't. Grinding starting impossible. The first gear is soon at the end, rated speed 2,200 revolutions. So again clutch, out gear, engage, wait, second in with momentum, clunk. That was pretty good, and we don't need more than second gear at first. The road leads steeply uphill, behind us the Altmühl, it goes past the Kipfenberg Castle, after a slight left-right-S straight to the southeast.

Hardy Mutschler
According to Thomas, the top speed is 120 km /h.

Ford A Racer with up to to 120 km /h

We don't need the brakes at first, and that's a good thing. Because as a Ford A novice you are already sufficiently busy keeping the car reasonably straight. A small thank you to the Romans, the road from Kipfenberg to Gelbelsee follows the ancient road along the Limes, and because at that time they did not need curves for the soldiers marching on foot, they built the roads straight ahead with geometric angles if changes of direction were necessary. But I didn't want to tell you that, it's about the Ford.

It is now calling for the third wave. This gear change is already a little smoother. The autumn wind whistles over the Brooklands windscreen, and I'm slowly starting to believe Thomas that his Ford can go up to around 120 km /h. Try out? Rather not.Meanwhile, owner Thomas Bauch is waiting on a bench, this car is his baby. When he's not driving through the Altmühltal or the neighboring forests in a Ford or one of his motorcycles, Thomas is working on the classic cars in the in-house collection in the Audi traditional department.

The Ford A served as the basis for the Racer

“That's when I got the idea for the Ford,” he says before we leave. “When working on our Auto-Union Silver Arrows, at some point I thought that I would also like to have a pre-war racer like this.” Buying it was out of the question, as almost every reasonably sporty vehicle from the era before 1945 now costs six-figure euros. 'So I thought, just build one yourself.' Sounds crazy, but it's not. Thomas Bauch is not only an Audi mechanic, he is also very skilled in handling old vehicles. His motorcycle collection consists largely of pre-war equipment, which in this case actually means the First World War. But that's another story, too.

'The Ford A is the ideal basis for such a car,' explains Thomas. After all, the A-chassis were converted into racing cars back in the 1930s, and on the other hand, all parts and original cars are available at reasonable prices. And according to estimates, at least a quarter of a million of the approximately 4.5 million Ford As built should still exist.

Hardy Mutschler
The racer is based on the Ford A.

On the highway? Better not

In the meantime the Ford has reached the Limes bend, gas off, gear out, double-declutching, thump, the second is back. Go then. With a bit of getting used to, you can keep the 85-year-old Model A pretty much on course. Still, it's good that there is almost no traffic here. Go straight on to the village of Gelbelsee, behind it the A 9. So turn around.

Even that works well, the reverse gear is on the top left, the car is extremely clear and the steering angle is perfectly suitable for everyday use. Thomas, who not only owns this Ford A, thinks so too. There are two more in his triple garage: a Tudor sedan and a 1929 pickup. It looks like a Waltons movie prop, only the Virginia license plate is missingperfect illusion. Thomas sometimes uses it to go to work at the nearby Audi factory or to swim at the quarry pond in summer - as reliably and easily as an Audi A3, he says. But back to the A-Racer. He bought a Model A chassis three years ago for 3,000 euros; it was in Nuremberg, barely an hour's trailer away USA and Europe. “I did everything else myself,” he says. Just as if it were the most natural thing in the world to bend an elegant racer body out of almost 19 square meters of 0.8 deep-drawn sheet metal in a garage a few kilometers north of Ingolstadt.

Original engine, self-hammered body

'The design is mine,' he continues, and says that he was inspired by contemporary photos and also looked at other modern A-conversions. Then he built the appropriate shapes out of wood and hammered the sheet metal over it. And incidentally mentions that it is not so easy to bring the material into the right shape and alignment. Still worked out quite well. Because even if you take a closer look, Thomas' self-made body is processed very carefully, joints and lines fit, nothing seems improvised or tinkered with. He chose the pointed tail shape because he simply liked it, most A-conversions have simpler bodies.

Hardy Mutschler
The A-Racer makes a very carefully crafted impression.

The engine is largely original However, he breathes a little more freely, so it may be that he has one or the other more horsepower than the standard 39. In any case, he goes quite well forwards on the return trip, downhill back into the valley. Yes, brake the brakes, but you don't necessarily have to do it to modern city traffic.

So anticipatory driving is the order of the day, with this car that means taking the gas off and trying to brake in good time before bends or obstacles insert the lower gear pair of the sliding gear. Thomas looks up more interested than relieved when the Ford stops in front of him: “And how was it?” Interesting, but somethingTakes getting used to, I answer, and peel myself out of the cockpit, which is actually suitable for much smaller ones. That used to be the case, says Thomas, the basic dimensions of the chassis and seats match the original.

Almost 900 hours of work went into the racer

What the TÜV says about something like that, is the next question. In the past, in the good old days, the gray coats in the quasi-official inspection centers would probably have eaten up the vehicle registration document rather than officially stamping and handing it over. No problem, says the builder, TÜV Süd has shown itself to be very cooperative, he discussed the conversion of the limousine chassis into a racer in advance with the gentlemen responsible, after all the essential components are original and the conversion is contemporary.

He has invested around 900 working hours in the Ford, calculates Thomas, including painting with a brush and applying the advertising slogans, also based on the originals. He artificially patinated the paintwork and leather, he admits, and hesitates a little about the question of how much the Ford has now cost in total. It will be around 15,000 euros in material costs, Thomas thinks aloud. The engine gets going again, first gear, clicks, and it hums away.

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