WHEN MIKE EIPPER downsized to a townhome after living in a house near Forest and Midway for 28 years, he had to figure out where to keep his baby: a 1929 dawn gray Model A Ford standard coupe.
Eipper has had the car since February 1967, when he was 16 and living in Long Beach, California. He and his dad found it in a San Pedro, California, upholstery shop. They towed it home with a chain.
“It ran OK, but it always needed something,” he says. “When I was dating, I had to make sure the girls knew what they were getting into with the car.”
The head gasket blew on several dates, and the girls had to wait while he took out a few sparkplugs so he could drive home on two cylinders instead of four. At 18, Eipper landed a job as a Santa Claus in a strip mall and drove his Model A to work wearing a Santa suit. “Sometimes, I was afraid I wouldn’t get to work because of all the people who stopped traffic to point.”
When Eipper and his wife moved to Dallas in 1982, the Model A was in the process of being restored and was disassembled. The parts made the trip in a moving van, shipped as household goods.
By chance, the UCLA graduate moved next door to a guy who was in the Dallas Model A Ford Club. The two neighbors worked for a couple of years to put it back together. The goal was to restore it by the time Eipper’s son was born.
“It was an intense couple of weeks, and we mostly made it,” he says.
Over the years, Eipper placed his only son in the car’s rumble seat and photographed him as he aged. When he drives it, he enjoys the honks, smiles and waves. Dads with kids in the car slam on the brakes so everyone can look at the sight. Before his son bought a house, Eipper pushed for a three-car garage, but it didn’t happen.
Now that he’s a retired manufacturing rep and grandfather, the car doesn’t get out much. But he already has plans to photograph his grandkids in the rumble seat as they grow up.
“A lot of guys have kept their high school cars,” Eipper says. “But this one has been part of the family for a very long time.”
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