It’s a charming little Model A Ford that we see here, right? It’s offered on a Dutch website by an online auction house. The car looks to be in reasonable condition, but why is this pre-war car on 1980’s cast alloy wheels? The interior doesn’t look like a 1930’s car at all, I mean, what car of that age would have an automatic transmission-stick like this? The steering wheel clearly is modern too.
No, this is, of course, a replica. A Shay replica, to be precise.
Harry Shay was at the late 1970’s the 6th largest car manufacturer of the United States of America. In 1978, this former General Motors automotive engineer came up with a plan to build replica’s of some popular old Fords, like the Model A, the Model T, the 1956 Thunderbird and even the first Ford Mustang. But he started of with the Model A Ford Roadster, officially named the Shay Roadster.
He managed to make a good deal with Ford, that supplied platforms of the Ford Pinto, Shay’s factory would produce the fibreglass body and assemble the cars. Ford, Mercury and Lincoln dealers sold them. It was a sweet deal, but Shay wanted more. He wanted to build 10.000 Roadsters, and he would have pulled it off, as the customers were lining up at the Ford dealerships.
Unfortunately, Harry Shay was apparently not much of a businessman. It took him too long to build a factory, then when his cars were finally delivered to customers, they quality was just not good enough.
In 1982, the Shay Motors Corporation went bankrupt. In 1983 another firm bought the remains of Shay’s company and tried selling the replica oldtimers. Some other firms also gave it a try and around 1986 the Model A roadster replica could be bought as a kit, that people could assemble in their own garage.
In total, around 5.000 Shay Roadsters have been produced and even 200 Thunderbirds-replicas. The real Model A Ford was produced from 1928 to 1932, 5 million in total were built.
On August 4, 1995, Harry Shay died in Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
The Shay Roadsters can still be found all over the USA and they keep confusing people. It is said that there is even a Shay-car to be seen in Kevin Costner’s movie The Untouchables, which is set in early 1930’s Chicago.
By the looks of it, a similar case of confusing is going on here. This grey car definitely is a Shay Roadster, but it is advertised as a 1932 Model A Ford. Oops… maybe someone can give them a call?