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9734 Dino Drive Elk Grove, CA 95624

(916)685-5078

Carlton Cordeiro’s copper Model A

Carlton Cordeiro’s copper Model A isn’t what one would expect. It’s not black. The top’s not chopped and that color, he said, is actually a 1976 Cadillac paint color given to him.

“I try not to spend money,” he said.

His career was construction, but his passion was cars. He has tinkered with cars since before he was old enough to drive and has rebuilt many during his lifetime, including a 1933 Willys. But his passion soon turned towards a 1930 Model A he found in a San Francisco garage where he was working. The car wasn’t for sale at that time. Six months later, however, the car was offered to him for a thousand dollars more. Restoring another 1933 Willys would have been too costly, he said, and anyway he wanted the Model A, which turned out to be “a bucket of rust.”

He took that rusty body and began rebuilding the car from the chassis up.

“I did everything,” he said. “Nobody touched it.”

He built 90% of what he needed and scoured swap meets for parts he couldn’t build. Cordeiro, a mostly self-taught mechanic who enjoyed hot rod magazines, spent the next several years working on the car.

“Your personality is in your car,” he said.

His personality, then, seems a bit rebel.

The copper Model A certainly sets it apart from others that have been restored to Henry Ford’s original black.

Painting is one of the few things Cordeiro hired someone else to do for him.

“The colors don’t match,” he said. “He’s going to do it again,” he added pointing to some runs that only he or another car aficionado would notice.

He didn’t keep the original headlights, saying that he didn’t want big ugly ones, and he didn’t chop the roof as he didn’t want to sit hunched over.

The most original piece on the car, aside from the chassis, is the dented hood trim, which could have been purchased brand new.

“I kept this,” he said, “for nostalgia.”

The piece, which he likes to ask people if they know what it is, was used when refueling the car. It protected the paint on the hood since the 1930’s fuel tank had been located in the front. The tank was moved to the vehicle’s rear in 1932.

Cordeiro spent more than five years, off and on, rebuilding the car, keeping track of every nut and bolt he removed and making sure that he had no leftovers. Client work always came before his hobby.

Although the car was still a work in progress and needed some upholstery work, he decided it was time to enter the car in a show. The car debuted at the inaugural Gears and Beers event and placed third. Not bad at all for what had once been a rusty body that he’d pushed into his garage several years earlier.

This article is courtesy of Auto Body Expressions 9734 Dino Drive Elk Grove, CA 95624 (916)685-5078 written by Trina L. Drotar

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The body
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