Ray's Rust - August 2013

By Ray Hinnant

ray hinnet

Back in my formative years I was instructed by one of the best. I had the fortune, like many other members of our club, to be tutored by Jim Corry. One might ponder how he came by his expansive knowledge of the Model A until one understands that the Model A and Jim were born very close to the same time. There are volumes of books written about the Model A Ford. Countless articles have been written about how the car was built, how to maintain them, how to restore them, and how to enjoy them. But I espouse that one can learn more with just a few hours wandering around the parking lot looking a Model A's parked during a Texas Tour. First one must the subtle and not so subtle differences between the early A's while Henry was fussing about Edsel's pushing to replace the "T" and the later A's when Henry finally got it right. (OK, so I have a little personal bias.)

As we would walk between the cars, Jim would teach us about the differences between the body styles, that Model A's had only black fenders, and that different sheet metal shops made different bodies for the New Ford. At one time, I could tell a Briggs body from a Murray. I remember that one had more rounded corners on the window, and the other more right angled corners. Mostly I didn't pay much attention to that part of Jim's class because they were town sedan or four door bodies. Sorry, but four doors just don't do much for me. I was much more interested in learning about and looking at the more sporting looking cars like the roadsters, phaetons, coupes, and the A400s. You can see all the four doors you want at the grocery store. (OK, so I have a little personal bias.)

Speaking of bodies, it is important to know that Ford made most of their production line bodies. Ford made the Tudors, Phaetons, Roadsters, and closed cab pickup bodies. However, Briggs, Murray, and Budd made thousands of bodies for the Ford Motor Company. Did you know that Fisher (the company that made most all of the Chevrolet bodies at least through the '60's and maybe even today's Government Motors Company bodies) made Model T bodies??. The following is a list of the bodies made by Briggs and Murray.

  • Briggs: 30-31 Coupe (OK, so I have a little personal bias.), Sport Coupe, Cabriolet, Open Cab Pickup, Town Car, and Deluxe Phaeton.
  • Murray: Panel Delivery, Victoria, Station Wagon, Convertible Sedan 400-A, and the wood body "Hucksters".

A.M. Wibel was Ford's production manager and was one of the most feared men in Detroit. He required each supplier to open their books completely to Ford Motor Company. He also dictated how much profit each supplier was to make on each and every part, including bodies. Briggs operated with Ford without a contract which meant that they were at the mercy of Wibel. In 1929, Briggs and Murray supplied identical (not according to Jim) four door bodies to Ford. The Murray body cost Ford $237.98 while the Briggs body cost $229.71. Ford allowed a 10% profit on each body, so for example, Murray made $23.80 for each body sold to Ford. Unfortunately for Ford suppliers, they had to pay their labor, overhead, capital expenditures, and stockholders dividends out of their 10%.In an audit of Brigg's books, Wibel discovered that Briggs had been marking up the cost of steel in addition to their profit. From that point on, Ford bought all of Briggs and all other suppliers steel. So, the

So, the next time I am parading around a parking lot looking at Model A's I want to be sure and point out to Jim, that Sherry's coupe is a Briggs. - Happy Model A'ing.

See you down the road.