After 43 years of dreaming about Shay Automobiles, Paul Wagner finally has one… thanks to his persistence and his wife’s dickering abilities.
I first heard of the Shay Model A when a Ticonderoga, NY, dealer advertised one in 1979. Did I want one? YES! But we were raising a family on our dairy farm. We didn’t have $11,000.00 available for a toy. They were expensive by our standards.
In 1979, the first and last brand new car I bought was a Chevy Malibu wagon, so the whole family could be comfortable, for $6200.00
I have been watching sales of Shay Model A’s for 40 years, but available ones were primarily in Texas, Florida or other parts of the country, not in Vermont.
In September 2020, I finally found one for sale near Albany, NY. Not that far from home in Vermont. We had sold the farm, the kids were married and doing their own thing, so I finally could have my toy. I called on the ad only to find the fella had sold it the day before. Darn!!! So, I put a wanted ad on Shay’s website, and two hours later I got a call from the fella who bought the Albany car. After talking to him, I found he had purchased the car to help his friend and just
wanted to resell it.
I was thinking the new owner had it for only three days, “What’s wrong with it?” I got directions, only 121 miles. My wife, Barbara, and I decided to go see the car. It was dove gray, super deluxe, with leather rumble seat, dual spare tires, and automatic transmission. I was excited! It did have a few flaws. The radiator leaked and the fella said there were no brakes. I could fix that. It still had the original tires and they were not road worthy. The car had 14,215 actual miles on the odometer. The previous owner had bought the car six years earlier at an estate auction in Florida for $10,500, plus the 10% auction fee for a total of $11,550, and the cost to get it home.
The original fella had been short of money and had to sell the Model A, plus five other classic cars. The gent selling it to me started at $14,500. Then my wife went back and forth with him and we ended up paying $11,500. You just have to know how to dicker!
I put on four new tires, re-cored the radiator and heater, added new ball joints, a fuel pump and plugs. We were ready to go. I have given many people a ride in my Shay Model A, including VAEer Ed Hilbert. I have only given my grandchildren rides in the rumble seat. They are the only ones who can get in, and even more importantly, can get out after!
I drove it 2500 miles last year and have had seven offers to buy it, but OH NO, I waited too long for this car. I will be back behind the wheel this summer, ahooga horn and All!!!
For the 50th Anniversary of the Model A, the Ford Motor Company released the patents to Harry Shay with permission to reproduce the 1928/9 Model A Roadster. The cars were sold by Ford dealers who had orders for 10,000 cars, as well as 200, 1955 Thunderbird reproductions. In the end, only 5500 Model As were completed from 1979 to 1980, with a few more in 1981, in Detriot, Michigan, when the Shay Company went bankrupt.
The Shay Model A has a fiberglass body and weighs 1850 pounds. It has a ‘76 Mustang frame and suspension, with a Ford 88-HP, 4-cylinder Pinto engine. Buyers had a choice of automatic or manual transmission. It has rack and pinion steering with disc brakes on front and drum brakes on back.
Top speed is 83MPH with fuel economy at 25 MPG. Base price in 1979 was $7,000 to $9,000. The deluxe model was as high as $11,500 with air conditioning.