For reasons that aren't entirely clear to us, the federal government hasn't responded to any of our letters on the subject of rebuilding the economy. We've repeatedly suggested that the depository at Ft. Knox be emptied of gold and all that heavy, gaudy metal be made into jewelry for elderly matrons and guys with bad hairpieces to make room for something truly valuable-the nation's reserve of Deuce sheetmetal. Our revolutionary plan for economic stabilization came to us at the last swap meet we attended when we realized the only precious metal that's recession proof came from Ford in 1932.

But while the price of Deuce vintage tin seems to have investment potential for the long haul, the second part of our program would center on an immediate economic stimulus plan-specifically methods to build an affordable street rod. At this same swap meet we found some real bargains on complete, running Model A's and found bodies for less than a '32 firewall. The fact is that when compared to almost any other early iron, Model A's are bargains to build or buy. We contended that more Model A hot rods are just what the economy needs.

Although they were more sophisticated than the Model T's they replaced, A's lacked the refinement of Ford's latter offerings. However, in some respects that makes them even better suited for our purposes. The frame was a simple ladder design that can be easily modified to make it stronger. That same simplicity also means it is much easier to manufacture new replacements that are much less expensive than '32 and later frames. Virtually every patch panel necessary to repair the sorriest sheetmetal is available as are new fiberglass and steel bodies. Fenders, running boards, splash aprons, head and taillights, and windshields-everything required to build a Model A is available new-and lots of original vintage tin and complete cars can be found as well.

Model A production totaled slightly over 4 million, which isn't huge by most standards, yet the survival rate is quite high. That can be attributed to a number of factors: These were rugged little cars that had an exceptionally long service life with many of them seeing daily service as a "second car" into the '50s; they've always been popular with hot rodders, so rather than going to a junkyard many of them were hopped up and recycled; but the first and foremost reason many Model A's survived is because they were one of the first cars (second only to the Model T) embraced by restorers. Today there are a surprising number of Model A's that had the benefit of restoration by amateurs and professionals in the '50s, '60s, and '70s that can be purchased for far less than the cost of refurbishing one today. That not only keeps the price of parts and project cars reasonable, it also makes buying an older restoration as the basis for a street rod a practical consideration.

For most of us the nation's economy is a concern, but it's the balance in our own accounts at the end of the month that dictate what we can and can't do. Putting together a street rod on a budget can be a challenge, but there are ways to cut costs-and building a Model A is one of the best investments we can think of.