Slowing down in a 1930 Ford Model A

A car that’s going on 100 years old may get you from Point A to Point B, but it forces you to slow down along the way.

Dan Krautbauer found his 1930 Ford Model A in Arizona.

“I started kind of going down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos about Model A’s and reading articles about them,” he said. “And an opportunity came up to buy this at a price that I thought was reasonable. And so I went for it.”

Krautbauer doesn’t describe himself as “a car guy.” But a series of events led him to the Model A. He was living in California, working in the film industry when the pandemic hit. He came back to Duluth, where he has family, when the company he worked for shut down. While he was here, he started feeling off.

“I started not feeling well, and eventually found out that it was cancer,” he said.

The diagnosis meant he needed to permanently relocate to Duluth. He undergoes weekly treatments for pancreatic cancer.

“It’s impossible, really, to hold down a full-time job,” Krautbauer said. “So you know, maybe it’s kind of a dumb thing to say, but having a project like this has given me a lot of purpose.”

He’s changed out the brakes and tinkered with the turn signals.

“I used to fix movie cameras for a living,” he said. “And so I kind of just figured, well, I know how to do technical stuff. And I know how to read manuals. So I can probably figure it out. And for the most part, I’ve been able to.”

It’s a manual transmission with a double clutch. The engine is from 1929, even older than the vehicle. There are only two seats inside, but there’s a rumble seat on the back.

The rumble seat on the back of Krautbauer’s Ford Model A. Kyle Aune/WDIO

“It’s only … I think a 40-horsepower engine. And then, you know, you’re surrounded by pickup trucks and all these really powerful cars that can go fast. And this thing, you know, it’ll hold down 30-40 miles an hour no problem. But going uphill, it wants to go slow,” Krautbauer said.

The license plate reads “SUNNY16,” which fits the yellow color. But it’s really a reference to a photography light metering technique.

The horn, Krautbauer says, is most people’s favorite part.

“It brings me a lot of joy to work on it. And I hope it brings other people joy,” he said.”Kids love it. They go crazy. It looks like something out of like Disneyland driving down the street.”

His everyday driver is an F150. But there’s nothing like the Model A.

“I don’t have a problem with a lot of the new digital stuff. I think it’s great,” he said. “But stuff like this kind of forces you to slow down a little bit. A car like this, you’re driving it to enjoy the process of driving, not so much to get from Point A to Point B.”

The Ford logo on the Model A
Kyle Aune/WDIO