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1929 Ford Model A Pickup - A Diesel-Powered

Model Of Perfection

Apr 24, 2014
Photographers: Cyle Noble
Henry Ford made history in 1908 when he introduced the Model T, an affordable automobile that opened the roads up to the American middle-class. In 1927, lightning struck again for Ford with the introduction of the new Model A. The Model A was available in more than 30 different models and came standard with a 201ci water-cooled L-head four-cylinder that produced 40 hp. By the time production had ended in 1932, Ford had produced nearly five million of these iconic vehicles.
Almost a century later, the Model A has become quite the collectable. With a desire to relive the experience his father once had owning a Model A, Cirius Noble of Degraff, Ohio, set out to find one of his very own. After locating a very nicely restored ’29 pickup model not far from home in Dayton, Cirius handed over the cash and trailered his new prize home. Unfortunately, not long after arriving, Cirius discovered the old engine had a cracked main bearing cap, and a massive oil leak -- the combination of which were terminal.
Photo 2/14   |   From the outside, Cirius Noble’s ’29 Model A is a beautifully restored classic, with a chrome stack in the bed giving the only hint that something might be other than original under the skin. The truck’s battery was also relocated to the bed since it no longer fit in its original space under the floorboards after the engine swap, and alongside it resides a 10-gallon fuel tank. The original cowl-mounted tank sprang a leak and Cirius has been too busy enjoying his truck to repair it just yet.
Not wanting to spend $3,000 to have a new Babbit bearing poured and engine rebuilt, a drivetrain swap was deemed to be the next best option. Doing what diesel enthusiasts do best, Cirius and his son Cyle took to Craigslist and found a 2.1L Renault turbodiesel out of an 1985 Jeep Cherokee. The guys wasted no time getting the old engine and transmission out of the classic pickup and the new diesel slung in. A five-speed manual AX-5 transmission was bolted up to the engine, and a custom hub and bearing assembly was machined to adapt a standard driveshaft to the vintage rear axle. To squeeze out a little more power, the rotary-style injection pump was turned up a bit. Exhaust gases are routed through a straight pipe and exit via a bed-mounted stack.
While it may not be original anymore, the diesel engine more than doubled the truck’s horsepower, which is quite noticeable at only 2,265 pounds, and allows the 85-year-old pickup to cruise at 70 mph and knock down nearly 40 mpg.

1929 Ford Model A Pickup
Owner: Cirius Noble
Hometown: Degraff, Ohio
Engine: 2.1L Renault I-4
Aspiration: Single fixed-geometry turbocharger
Fueling: Bosch VE mechanical injection pump
Horsepower: 85 hp at 3,750 rpm (stock)
Torque: 132 lb-ft at 2,750 rpm (stock)
Transmission: Aisin AX-5 five-speed manual
Tires: 21x4.5-inch INSA
Wheels: 21-inch factory steel wire spoke
Suspension: Factory multi-link
Fun Fact: Cirius once hauled a 5.9L Cummins engine to a machine shop in the bed of the Model A, right down I-75.
Photo 3/14   |   1929 Ford Model A Pickup Side Three Quarter
Photo 13/14   |   When all is said and done, the small diesel engine looks so at home under the hood of the ’29 that people are surprised it wasn’t a factory option.
Photo 14/14   |   Custom motor mounts needed to be fabricated to support the engine and attach the transmission bellhousing to the front engine cradle. New brackets for the rear trailing arms were also built to clear the Jeep transmission.

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