The ex-Andy Hardy, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland
1931 Ford Model A Roadster
Engine no. A4736318
Looking like little more than a mildly modified, but otherwise ubiquitous Ford Model A, this fairly ordinary Ford Roadster was a featured player in some of Hollywood's most cherished flicks, the Andy Hardy series starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.
Andy Hardy first appeared in the 1937 film A Family Affair. Starring Lionel Barrymore as Judge Hardy and Spring Byington as his wife, it introduced their adventuresome son, Andy, and was a smash success. A sequel, You're Only Young Once, appeared only a year later. MGM could turn out hit musical comedies in batches in those days.
Mickey Rooney would play the central character in all sixteen Andy Hardy films and from the fourth film in the series Andy became so central to the series' concept that he worked his way into the titles. That was Love Finds Andy Hardy, in 1938. That's also the film where he was joined by Judy Garland in the first of her three appearances in the series. They played, flirted, sang and stumbled over good intentions gone awry along with this 1931 Ford Model A Roadster, Andy's mechanical and financial nemesis bought with $12 down but $8 still to go.
The Model A Roadster is featured throughout the film, providing continuity and distraction when needed, the perfect foil for Andy and emblematic of the effect the automobile in general, and Fords in particular, had upon the young men and women who came of age in the Thirties.
It was acquired on May 21, 1970 at an MGM auction of props and costumes by Glen W. Bell, Jr. for the princely sum of $6,000. In 1976 Bell commissioned its restoration by John R. Craig's Heritage Coachworks in Ramona, California. Even at Heritage's 1976-77 shop rate of $16/hour by the time the job was done it had absorbed another $27,171.74, neatly recorded in a classic hand on a ledger sheet which comes with the car.
Appropriate to Andy's desire to update his Model A it has L78-15 front and G78-15 rear blackwall tires on chromed steel wheels, wind wings, cowl lights and a rear-mounted spare with "Rah Rah" painted on its fabric cover. Now a generation old, the restoration is holding up remarkably well, an endorsement of Craig's workmanship and choice of materials. It will benefit from some cosmetic attention and freshening, particularly the wheel chrome, but overall is much better preserved than the original prints of the Andy Hardy movies.
This is a classic American ride from a classic American flick staring two of the screen's most lustrous stars, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. If that isn't enough, Love Finds Andy Hardy marked the formal screen debut of Lana Turner.
Pity poor Andy having to choose between Judy Garland's Betsey Booth and Lana Turner's Cynthia Potter.
At least the Ford needed only $8 more to become well and truly his.
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