This is the story of a true “survivor” car that dropped out of sight for decades, before it came into the possession of the son of the man who owned it years ago. Jeff Barton had been looking for a car to turn into a “rat rod” and thought he had found the right one. However, after he discovered that Leonard V. Hansen had owned the old car, his plans totally changed.
Leonard V. Hansen grew up during the Great Depression, when money was hard to come by. Somehow he scraped up enough to purchase a 1930 Model A Ford Tudor. Hansen was about 27 years old when he bought the car from Rohde Motor Co. on Jan. 29, 1937. A 1930 car for under $200 was a deal.
Rohde Motor Co. was an agent for Hudson and Hudson-Terraplane cars and Diamond T Trucks. The business was located at 219 Jefferson St. in Waupaca, Wis. Rohde Motor Co. would later become the Stiebs AMC-Jeep dealership owned by Harold Stiebs. Today, the well-kept old building still houses an auto repair shop where a number of collector cars have been fixed up.
In the ‘30s, it was not unusual for most people to buy cars close to where they lived. Hansen had no reason to scour the countryside for possibilities. He lived in Waupaca, knew the businessmen in the city and found it convenient to buy from local auto dealers. To make the Model A affordable, he traded in a 1926 Model T Ford for $30. That left a balance of $130 to pay for the newer Ford.
Hansen’s son Bob — now a classic car restorer — believes that his dad kept the car for around 17 years. “As close as we can figure things, my dad sold the car in 1954,” Bob Hansen advised. “After that, we heard nothing about its whereabouts and didn’t even know that it was still in existence.”
Bob Hansen never really knew much about the car either. “I never even saw pictures of it,” he admits. “But I remember my uncle saying that he, my dad and my cousin took it to a midnight show at the Rosa Theatre and almost rolled over at a corner, while driving there.”Marly Hasse — a former parts man for a Ford dealer in Waupaca — does recall the car coming in for service back in the ‘40s.
Jeff Barton was looking for rat rod material when he came across the Model A. It was being stored in a barn in Manawa, Wis., about 20 miles from Waupaca. Apparently, the car had sat in that same barn for a very long time.
Barton thought that the Ford would be perfect to turn into a hot rod, but then he saw the name Leonard V. Hansen on the old title and thought of Bob Hansen. He called him and asked, “What was your father’s middle initial?
“Jeff called me at work one morning in the middle of December and said he believed he had bought a car that belonged to my father.” Bob Hansen recalls. “He suggested I might want to come and take a look at it.” Hansen had an old bill of sale for his father’s car and wrote the engine number that was on it down on a piece of paper. When he inspected the car, the numbers matched.
“Jeff was a real friend for letting me buy the car,” Hansen said. The car was partially apart, but complete. Some work was done on it over the years and many small parts had been purchased for it. The original 1930 radiator shell had been swapped tor a 1931 version. Bob Hansen. purchased a correct radiator shell and then got the car running. He drives it around a bit in the warmer months. “My wife Kelly was may partner in making the purchase,” Hansen told Speedville. “We call it our ‘Walton’s Car’ or the ‘Jalopy.’ It’s amazing to have this car 58 years after my dad owned it.”
Article courtesy Speedville.