I have the pleasure of getting my family’s 1930 Model A Ford Sport Coupe back in working order after it has been in storage for about 15 years. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the instruction on how to start the car that I got from my Grandpa 20 years ago, before he died, and no one else in my family knows how to do it. If it weren’t for my friend Devin I don’t know how long it would have taken me to find someone who could help me since there is no Model A Ford Club in Indianapolis. I wrote these directions figuring that there are other people like me out there who are handy, but lack some basic information. My The Model A Ford Mechanics Handbook Volume 1, by Les Andrews doesn’t tell you how to start the car after you have spent all this time fixing it.

Here’s how I start my car:

  1. Make sure that everything is in running order. Easier said than done I know. Be sure the timing is properly set, or even if you get the car started, it won’t run well, if at all.
  2. Turn on the gas valve that is under the dash on the passenger side. In my car the valve is open when the handle is 90 degrees from the gas line.
  3. Push the timing lever on the steering column (the one on the left) up all the way (fully retarded).
  4. Pull the throttle lever on the steering column (the one on the right) down most of the way. How far down will probably vary from car to car. My friend Devin likes to have it all the way down on his car.
  5. On the right side of the car, in front of where the passenger would sit is a silver knob. This is both the choke and the fuel mixture. Turn the knob clockwise until it stops, and then open it back up about 1/4 to 1/2 of a turn. Pull it almost all the way out and hold it there. The turning is the mixture, and the pulling is the choke, or air supply. (You only have to pull out on the choke when starting the car cold, after it is warm you can just hit the starter button.)
  6. Push the clutch pedal in all the way, or take the car out of gear.
  7. Push the starter button on the floor with your right foot. It’s the little one that is closest to the engine.
  8. As the starter is turning you may have to slide the choke in or out a bit to find the sweet spot. Once the engine fires, let go of the choke almost immediately. You may have to adjust the mixture knob, but I usually have mine 1/4 to 1/2 of a turn open. Also, you will want to ease up on the throttle lever (push it up a bit). You do not need to hit the gas pedal with your foot in the starting process. In fact, that is why you have the throttle lever in the first place, it takes the place of the pedal since your foot is busy on the starter button.
  9. You will have to fiddle around with all the settings a bit to get them just where you need them for your car.
  10. Once the engine is running, pull the timing lever all the way down (and leave it there) for driving.
  11. Have fun!