The 20 Millionth Ford — a 1931 Model A — will lead 2012 MAFCA tour

Angelo Van Bogart |

The Model A Ford Club of America announced that Mr. Rod Liimatainen, owner of the 20 Millionth Ford, will lead the MAFCA Model A Tour at the National Convention with the historic 1931 Ford Model A. This will be very reminiscent of the days gone by, when the Slant Window Town Sedan traveled the country promoting the Ford Motor Co. Liimatainen is a member of the Superior A’s, the regional club hosting the National Convention to be held June 18-22 in Marquette, Mich.

In 2002, this historic Model A was featured in Old Cars Weekly following its uncovering for restoration, and after it appeared at the Iola Old Car Show. An excerpt of that story appears below. The complete story of the car currently appears in the book Lost and Found II, which can be ordered by clicking here.

The 20 Millionth Model A

In the fall of 2000, one of the most historic and presumed lost Fords of all time was unearthed from 40 years of storage in a garage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The 20 Millionth Ford, a black 1931 Model A Town Sedan, is not only important from the numeric assignment given to it on the assembly line, but for the dignitaries that used it while Ford promoted the car around the country.

After a few publicity shots were taken of the landmark Ford after it rolled off the assembly line, none other than Henry Ford drove the Model A Ford off the assembly line and into history books. Henry’s son, Edsel, who is credited for making the Model A the beautiful automobile that it is, was in the passenger seat.

“Ford made it important when Henry Ford stamped the number on the block and drove it off the assembly line,” Rod Liimatainen said. His famly has owned the 20 Millionth Ford since 1940, when Ford Motor Co. initially sold the car.

The restored 20 Millionth Ford, a 1931 Model A Fordor. FoMoCo paid for its restoration and then displayed it at its headquarters for 10 years. It's now back in its longtime owner's hands and will lead a MAFCA tour.

From the Rouge assembly plant, Henry Ford drove the car to his home where he and the Model A Ford were photographed with Henry’s first car, the Quadricycle. From there, the landmark car was driven by Col. C.D. Hilton on a promotional tour where it received honors from Americans across the country.

Throughout its tour, the 20 Millionth Ford racked miles from New York to the West Coast, then to the south and finally back to Dearborn, Mich. Once home, it was housed in Dearborn’s Ford Museum for 10 years. After its decade-long stay, Ford sold the special Town Sedan to current owner Rod Liimatainen’s father for $550, just $80 less than the model’s original $630 base price. When Liimatainen’s father bought the car, he had full knowledge of the car’s star-studded past despite the fact Ford had tried to brush away the car’s past by painting over the giant white lettering that proclaimed the car’s heritage.

Although the non-descript Model A putted around the Liimatainens’ Upper Peninsula hometown looking as ordinary as any other Model A, a few local Ford fans were keen to its identity and importance, but kept its secret for decades.

“It was known in the area,” Liimatainen said. “A lot of people wanted to buy it over the years.”

After his father passed on the car to Liimatainen and is mother in the 1950s, it never left the garage until it was dusted off for restoration in 2000.

“It’s not an easy restoration, but not a difficult one,” Deters said at the time of the restoration. “It certainly, for the most part, was all there.”

Helping preserve the body were at least two coast of paint over the original black coat. A close initial inspection by Deters showed no signs of the lettering on the car’s sides or roof. He was doubtful of the car’s history until the disassembly began. When he took the frame of the car off, he found the magic serial number — A20000000.

Deters Restorations spent about a year restoring the car. When it was completed, the car made its debut at the 2002 Iola Old Car Show, which featured the 1928-’31 Ford Model A, then was displayed at Ford Motor Co. headquarters for 10 years.

The Old Cars Weekly staff with the 20 Millionth Model A Fordor during the 2002 Iola Old Car Show.

2 Responses to The 20 Millionth Ford — a 1931 Model A — will lead 2012 MAFCA tour

  1. Douglas Swanson says:

    This is certainly a great car. When Ford celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003, Ford Motor Company honored our dealership which is the world’s 5th oldest dealership in Omaha Nebraska. They had an all Ford show on the viaduct by the Western Heritage Museum in Omaha. There was a tremendous turn out of Fords and one Model A guy from Blair Nebraska brought a collection of pictures of the 20 millionth Ford to the show. His neighbor had died and the children were cleaning out the place and knew that their neighbor had Model As and wondered if he would want some pictures. The man that died worked for Ford and was on the 20 millionth tour around the country. They are great pictures and I have copies of them at several dealerships around the country, one being Norfolk, Ne. I was hoping there would be a picture at our Dealership, Swanson Ford in Ceresco, Ne. Our dealership chartered a bus in 2003 and went to Ford’s 100th anniversary in Detroit and I was able to get a picture of my wife, brother and myself by the 20 millionth Ford. The car was kind of hard to find at the anniversary and I will cherish my pictures along with the one of myself by the car. It is so fun to look at the pictures and see how many people showed up at the dealerships across the country and the # of children in overalls and dress shirts. The chaufffer driven dual windshield 4 door on the tour was cool to see as this is the only ’31 open front top that I have ever seen. When the Model T’s were going across the country to the 100th anniversary, Ford Motor Company asked me to organize a bunch of classic Ford’s to join the Ts for a show in Norfolk, I was able to get 75 Fords from our area along with our Danish ’32 Deluxe B roadster to go to Norfolk and join them. I gave a picture of the 20 miilionth Ford in Norfolk to the Ford dealer there and he was grateful as he had no idea that the car had been in Norfolk. Great that the family is now enjoying the car again and that he is in a Model A club. Doug Swanson, President of Swanson Ford Inc. in Ceresco, Ne

  2. dan says:

    My father was a Ford dealer in Alexandria Minnesota, Syvrud Motor Company and this car made a stop at his dealership and had pictures taken, A W Bendick the manager of the Twin Cities signed the picture. I still have this picture along with some other cool pictures of that time.

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