My Ford Model A nearly ruined my wedding

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Josh Hartman Photography

I love my Ford Model A, I really do. Yet I think it actively tried to sabotage my wedding.

For those unfamiliar with my black ’A coupe, it is a significant part of why I am here at Hagerty. During my formative years in medium-town Kansas, this curvy fendered car sat quietly in the back corner of a deep garage, often parked alongside my mother’s daily driver and surrounded by recycling bins, my bicycles, and at least one broken lawn mower. As a family, we acknowledged its presence but never did anything with it. A trophy with no case.

Not until I started down a path dedicated to vintage transportation did I sit down with my parents and get the full story of the car that, for decades, we had largely ignored. The A was my father’s first car. Purchased in 1968, wrenched on by Dad with the help of my grandfather and uncle. The passenger-side front-fender bears three fingerprints, one from each of the men as they brushed on several coats of black house paint and, periodically, tested to see whether it had dried.

This is the family heirloom that recently protested the legal merger of two families—in a very Model A way.

I am probably to blame. The wonderful photographer we booked for our nuptials asked us if we had any special requests. My then-fiancée and I mentioned that we had an old car that we would be using as our getaway vehicle and we’d want some photos with it. However, I forgot to specify that “old car,” to me, means a vehicle built before WWII. I can’t really fault our photographer for thinking of something from the 1970s or even the ’50s.

Imagine his surprise when he met the vehicle waiting to carry my bride and I to a scenic photoshoot: a 1930 Ford.

“I have the perfect spot,” he said, undaunted.

“How far is it? We aren’t able to go real fast, and really don’t want to go too far if we can help it.”

“OK, that works. Just follow me.”

Josh Hartman Photography

He hopped in his Ram Promaster and headed off at 55 mph. A mild panic set in. I know I did a bad job of hiding it because, once a minute, from the right side of the old bench seat, my beautiful bride would look over and ask, “Are we okay? Are we going to make it?”

I practiced my “Yes, dear, everything is fine”—because, mostly, it was.

Mostly.

Josh Hartman Photography

The drive took nearly 25 minutes. Despite what modern cars call a leisurely pace of 35 mph, and the fresh set of brakes, I was a mess trying to wrangle the car down the road. That trip was the Model A’s longest in nearly three decades … and we still had to drive back to the original venue for the reception.

Did I mention that neither of us brought our phones, and that the photographer was leaving directly from our session for another wedding? Once we shook his hand and sent him on his way, we were on our own. In an untested car. With people counting on us to know what we were doing. I imagined our wedding party becoming a search party as we sat in full wedding attire, with no tools and no communication on the side of some random road.

I know my relationship is young, but I’ve never experienced a more perfect analogy for a marriage.

It gets better. About halfway to the photographer’s selected spot, a few drops of oil oozed their way into the interior via the gaps in the floor around the pedals. A little leakage on a car of this age is to be expected, but as I drove us back towards the venue, the amount of oil grew. And grew. And grew some more. My brown shoes developed a light black sheen. I was internally panicking, trying my best to lie to the missus that no, everything was fine.

She has since told me I am a terrible liar.

Josh Hartman Photography

Only once we and the ’A had successfully made our return journey did I notice the oil droplets peppering my light gray shirt. The little 200-cube, flathead four-cylinder had built up enough crankcase pressure on the drive to dislodge the oil-fill cap, allowing the crankshaft to fling oil up the tube and onto the firewall, where it seeped its way into the interior. Easy enough to clean and repair … if the interior weren’t also occupied by your bride, wearing a dress that was … well, still mostly white.

My heart sank—but my bride was nonplussed. She already understood that, more often than sometimes, I would walk into the kitchen half naked, having left my Brakleen- or hypoid oil-stained clothes in the garage rather than bring the reeking articles into the house. Head back and laughing, in a wedding dress splattered with non-detergent 30-weight, she reinforced one more time that she knew exactly who she was marrying—and that she was still along for the ride.

I don’t need a wedding ring to remind me of that kind of love.

Josh Hartman Photography

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