Bill Dell of Central Point shows off his two 1931 Model A cars he restored and drove during more than 50 years traveling the country on road tours. He reconfigured his favorite, the Model A on the left, as a 1932 Model B, altering its grill, bumper and wheels.

If Cars Could Talk

CENTRAL POINT — Bill Dell's garage is a quiet, tidy space, adorned with black-and-white and color photos and newspaper articles detailing a long list of adventures Dell has taken in the more than 30 cars he's owned in his lifetime.

If the three cars parked there now could talk, they'd have stories of movie sets, parades, granddaughters' weddings and cross-country trips.

Two matching green cars, a 1931 Model A Roadster and a 1931 Model A Coupe sit at the center of the garage. Dell's favorites, they look like they would have in 1931 with the exception of a handful of 1932 features added, as was common "back in the day," he says, to make the Roadster look "younger."

In the corner of the garage, a brick-red 1931 Austin Bantam, which Dell describes as "half the size of a Roadster," sits with a slew of its own memories.

The Bantam and Roadster are similar to cars Dell owned in high school.

While fewer than a dozen boys at the 3,500-member student body at Oakland (Calif.) High School at that time had cars, the now 85-year-old would have three by the time he graduated in 1941. Besides the Bantam, he used money from a night job to buy a Model A Roadster and a 1936 Ford.

After high school, he served from 1942 to 1945 in the Marines.

When he started his family, then living in his childhood home of Oakland, he bought another Model A Roadster for $65 as transportation to get to work, at a nearby airport, in the early 1950s.

With his knack for restoration, he couldn't let the old car simply remain the way it was.

"I figured I could pay $500 and let it depreciate to $50 or I could pay about $50 and not worry about it depreciating," Dell says.

That now-green Roadster still sits in his garage, packed with memories from more than five decades.

In his "office," a laptop computer is seemingly the only thing from modern day. The walls are lined with stories and photos from his days as a Marine and his days, which were far more plentiful, as a fan of the automobile.

An article from the Oakland Tribune on Oct. 24, 1972, declares "City Turns out for the A's," referring to the Oakland A's and not Dell's Model A's. Since his car bore the team colors of green and yellow, he drove the team manager in parades during the 1972-74 stretch in which the team won three consecutive World Series.

"Must have been the green and yellow," Dell says with a smile.

In 1963, he took a first-place ribbon at a national Model A convention in San Diego.

The next year, he drove the same Roadster from San Francisco to New York with his wife, Sally, who passed away this July 25, and two sons.

A photo for another article shows Dell, with the San Francisco mayor, fire and police chiefs and Miss San Francisco, posing with his Roadster as the first car to go through the newly adopted Safety Check in 1964.

Two years later, in 1966, he took part in a Model A trip dubbed "Oakland to Albuquerque" in his roadster, driving 24 hours straight.

Dell's prized Roadster, a 1945 military Jeep he still owns and a '36 Ford he had at the time, were featured in the movie, "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1988), which told the tale of automaker Preston Tucker's challenge against "the big four" automakers. Dell says he logged 150 hours for that movie. He and the '36 Ford were also in the movie, "Murder in the First" in 1995.

Now a member of the Rogue Valley Model A Ford Club, and the national organization for 52 years, he keeps up to date on the car hobby around the country.

He enjoys his cars, and gladly pulled them out for recent visitors. The memories of parades, weddings, movie sets, even a hunting trip or two supported his idea that his cars, rare though they may be, were more for going than for showing.

Rather than preserve the old rigs, he asks, why not enjoy them?

"They've sure been a lot of fun," he says.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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