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From: Jon Koplik2/27/2024 12:18:50 AM
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WSJ -- John Hermida skipped stocks and bonds to buy a 1931 Ford Model A ............................

Feb. 25, 2024

Worried About a Market Crash, He Invested in a Depression-Era Car.

John Hermida skipped stocks and bonds to buy a 1931 Ford Model A

By A.J. Baime

John Hermida, 26, a structural engineer living in Miami, on his 1931 Ford Model A, as told to A.J. Baime.

I have always liked classic cars because they’re so mechanical. I was obsessed with Model Ts even when I was a teenager. I had some assets, but with inflation the way it was, I thought the stock market was going to crash. So, instead of the usual stocks and bonds, I looked at classic cars. If you look at the market, classic cars can be good investments, if you take care of them.

I was on Bring a Trailer all the time, and I started watching “Jay Leno’s Garage” videos, trying to learn as much as I could. Then, I found a guy named Paul Shinn on YouTube. He makes videos about the Ford Model A that make this model so accessible. He talks about finding parts and how to fix the cars when they break. I wanted a prewar Packard, but parts are so hard to find. For a guy my age with my resources, a prewar Packard just wasn’t reasonable. But a Model A was.

Unlike the Model T, the Ford Model A offers a mostly modern manual-transmission driving experience, Hermida says.

I found a listing for a Model A that had air conditioning in Oklahoma. A lot of purists hate any modern modification on a classic, but I have lived my entire life in Miami and it’s super hot. I wanted a car I could actually use. The owner and I agreed on a number -- $23,500 -- and so four years ago, this Model A became the first car I ever bought. I was still a college student, studying engineering at Florida International University.

The day the car arrived on a truck, I was blown away. The first thing the truck driver said to me after we had unloaded it was, “You have to drive this thing.” I had not driven a stick shift in a couple years. I had never driven a manual car that did not have a synchronized transmission. So, off I go driving around the block. I must have stalled three times.

The Model A drives ‘like a tractor,’ says Hermida. ‘The brakes are as hard as rocks.’

One of the things I love about the Model A is that it is a highly important car, historically. When it came out, it revolutionized the industry, just as the Model T did before it.

[ Ford introduced the Model A in December of 1927 and, according to the company, Ford reached a capacity of 9,000 Model As per day in 1929.]

Unlike the Model T, the Model A drives like a modern car. Anyone who knows how to drive a stick shift can get in this car and drive it. Although it does have some archaic idiosyncrasies, such as the aforementioned non-synchronized transmission, which means you double clutch when you shift gears.

I live in the house where I grew up, and I keep the car in an air-conditioned garage. Like all decent engineers, I love to tinker, and I have taken apart the brake assemblies and rebuilt them. I replaced the alternator and I learned how a carburetor works, so I could take mine apart, clean it and put it back together.

The 1931 Model A packs a 201-cubic-inch, four-cylinder engine and can cruise over 50 mph.

I drive the car every weekend, doing all the normal weekend activities. I take it to see my brother, who lives in Coconut Grove. I get groceries and take it to restaurants. It drives like a tractor. The brakes are as hard as rocks. The steering is heavy at low speeds and light at higher speeds. The car can be a little intimidating because you’re going 50 mph with very little of the protection you would have in a modern car.

The classic-car community has been amazing. Miami is not the most welcoming place, but if you tell someone you have a classic car, you have instant friends. I have met younger people who know how to work on these cars, and people in their 80s and 90s who grew up driving them.

Hermida calls his 1931 Ford Model A ‘Aggie’ for Agatha. ‘What could be a more 1930s name than Agatha?’ he says.

Every car should have a name, I think. With this car, I needed a name that felt really 1930s and that began with an A. So I call it “Aggie” for Agatha. What could be a more 1930s name than Agatha? So if you see me driving this car, you can say hello on a first-name basis.

Write to A.J. Baime at

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