The Henry Springfield Story

The first Model A rolled off the assembly line in November 1927. These first Model A’s are known as AR’s and are different from standard 1928/29 A’s and very different from the 1930/31’s. Fluted headlight lenses, red steering wheel, different gas and radiator caps, taillights, fan shroud, and pistol grip hand-brake on the left are some features proving this to be an AR. Prior to the late 1928 Ford produced station wagon bodies, after-market companies filled this need with depot hack bodies. One body manufacturer was Springfield Commercial Body Co. My AR is a rare example of what is thought to be a Tudor Suburban Estate Hack or Wagon, sometimes called a Transport Wagon or Bar Harbor. Licensed in Connecticut with plate number 61-302, this Springfield was the workhorse on the rural estate of Bridgeport Mayor Jasper McLevie. The car was later transferred to the estate caretaker, Mr. Lewis Parmelee, of Bethlehem, Connecticut. Parmelee began the restoration at some point; however, in the 1960’s he sold it to Richard Downs of Washington Depot. Downs did some restoration work to the wagon, then, in turn, sold the Springfield to Dr. Joseph Lewis Horowitz in 1974. The engine, transmission and rear end were rebuilt by Pioneer Valley Model A in Massachusetts, while the chassis, body and interior were Horowitz’s pastime. Dr. Horowitz nearly completed the restoration in 1977. Less than 200 miles were put on the car before entering storage, not to see light of day again for 22 years. I bought the Springfield from Horowitz, then of Baltimore, Maryland, in 1999. The car needed only a bath, fresh fluids, new battery, the fuel tank & line cleaned. The fuel spigot had been left on, so weeping gas destroyed the paint on the firewall. That is all the attention needed.

The Springfields are unique commercial vehicles with “custom-built insulated panel bodies,” as the Springfield sales brochure reads. Wood is the structural foundation, which is “covered with felt, then placed between steel or wood panels to absorb all rumble and eliminate heat”.Slightly misleading as what I found is tin sheets screwed to the wood frame with felt between the frame & tin. I’m sure some of the rumble is lost, but not much. My AR squeaks & cracks like a woodie AND roars like an oil drum at times. Wood trim and/or decorative framing is often used as a statement of the manufacturer and the owner. Top bows, slats tail gate & framing appear to be ash or light oak. Wood substructure is painted black.

The final wood trim was produced in ash by Jim Zalanski of Montana Cabinet and Canoe in 2001. The design and dimensions were faithfully reproduced from a Springfield depot hack we had located in Maine. So the restoration that was started in the 1960’s was finally completed some 40 years later. My grandkids call her “Henry,” and she’s a big hit in the Montana countryside.

Appraised at $27,750      Offered at $28,000

Note: All cars are being sold without guaranty/warranty , I have done my best to honestly describe the condition of each vehicle. I welcome personal review of each car.