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Dave and Cheri Garvin’s 1929 Ford Model A wagon is more than just metal, wood, tires, wires, and an engine. It’s a daily reminder of Cheri’s dad, Bob Mathers. Not only was the car Bob’s favorite classic vehicle, working on it together strengthened the family bond. Now the Garvins are sharing the automotive passion.
“We always had antique cars,” Cheri says in our latest Why I Drive video. “My dad would buy them in bushel baskets and put them together… [He] was always buying and selling… When you see pictures of us as kids, we’re always standing next to an old car. We used to joke that if the price was high enough, he’d sell us too.”
“He always wanted a woody wagon, and he eventually bought one from a guy who was in an antique automobile club in Boyne City [Michigan],” Dave says. “We worked on it together whenever we’d come up [from Traverse City] for the weekend.”
It was during those many months that the Model A also became Dave’s favorite. After Cheri’s parents passed away within three years of each other, there was no question which one of Bob’s 11 classic vehicles they wanted to hang onto.
“Knowing that I helped with it and knowing that [we’ll] keep it in the family, I think that’s the most fun [thing] about it,” Dave says.
There’s more to operating a Model A than simply jumping inside, turning the key, and driving away. As Cheri explains, “You have to turn on the gas, and then you have to do the spark and mess with the levers and pull out the choke… so [there’s] quite a bit of action getting everything going to get it started. But it starts right up.”
Once on the road, Dave warns that the Model A doesn’t have hydraulic brakes—it has standard mechanical brakes. “You don’t follow too close, because you can push as hard as you can [on the pedal] and it doesn’t stop right away. So we kind of stay back.” Top speed is about 50 mph… downhill.
Of course, driving the car isn’t about comfort or speed.
“It’s fun to watch people as you drive by,” Cheri says. “And just the history is so cool—that you get to drive something that’s 90 years old.”
“You’d be surprised how many people wave at ya, beep the horn at ya,” Dave says. “Little kids wave at ya.”
The Garvins drove the Model A to visit Dave’s mother in assisted living, and it turned into an event that the other residents also enjoyed. “They all came out, [and we] gave them a ride,” Dave says. “They were all excited because they remember that kind of car and how it starts, or they remember the ooga horn. That’s why the door is always open, because we want people to enjoy the car, young or old.”
Just as Bob Mathers would have wanted.