Wolfgang Kuhmann, Germany & Kuno Gross, Switzerland

Ford Model A (1930): Transformation to Almasy's Expedition Vehicle

The Original Vehicle in 1933

Sooner or later all “Desert Enthusiasts” have to come across the desert explorers of the 1930ies and amongst them Laszlo Almasy. such happened to us as well – who wonders?

We were particularily fascinated by the Ford Model A they used. And one day we thought that it would be a good thing o have such car. so the search started…

Here two links to the said expeditions of 1933:

1933 March - May: Almasy-Bermann-Kasparius-Penderell Expedition


1933, October to December: Almasy's "Frobenius Expedition"


The "English Patient" (1996)

The first time in recent years when a modified Ford A was seen driving in the desert was in the famous movie The English Patient in 1996. The cars they used in the movie looked already quite cool and authentic…

Cool they were for sure. But not at all authentic. The cars used in the movie were of the type with the fixed cabin. Those were not used by the desert explorers – the used the type “open cab pick-up”.

Too bad for us. Unfortunately the “open cab pick-up” was just the rarest type of the whole variety of these Ford Model A. A long search started…

Fixed cabin vs. open cab

The difference is learly visible: The fixed cabin version (as used in the movie) and the open cab version as it was actually used in the 1930ies.

The first thought was just to chop off the cabin roof…
…but that would not really provide us with the result we wanted. There were too many small differences still.

The Ford A as we got it in April 2013

After a long drive from Mainz to Pan Industries at Schwaan near Rostok we loaded our Ford A on a trailer and drove back the 750 kilometers. We only arrived late in the night and left the car on the trailer… but early in the morning we had to unpack it and to prepare it for the first drive.

The first drive out

We did not get the Ford started before the 6 Volt battery was empty. Fortunately, Juergen, Wolfgang's neighbour, provided us with a charger so that we could bring the engine to life. But we did not get far until the car stopped – there was obviously a lot of dirt coming from the fuel tank. We had to call Mia with her Landrover to pull us back home.

It starts to take shape...

There was a lot of dirt in the fuel tank. and some other little things had to be fixed as well. But now the old Ford starts to take its “Desert Shape”. The mounting for the small condensator is fixed, the connection hose to the big condensator as well.The mountings for the two big and heavy 9×13 spare wheels have to be very stable. The wheels are not yet fixed but only placed to get an impression on how the car will look like.

The cover has arrived recently. As expected, it did not fit at 100% immediately but some adjustements are required to be done.

The wheels and the other accessories are not yet fixed – but the car starts to look cool:

More work than expected...

The “small things” cause more works and require more efforts than expected. The adapters for the wheels arrived only very late and its seems that they have to be reworked first bofore they can be used. Also the sand ladders were not done in a few minutes but it took a considerable time to complete them.Below photos show the car in its present status – good to see the different size of the tires. One can imagine how the people in the 1930ies must have felt once they got such tires available…

Ready for the Desert! (Nearly :-))

The new wheels with the big tires are now fixed, the roof sits perfect as well and all the required “desert gear' has been added to the car. Now it is ready for the desert!

Abenteuer Allrad 2013

We will present our vehicle to the public during the Abenteuer Allrad at Bad Kissingen in Germany from 2013-05-30 to 2013-06-02.

You will find us at the stand C04 with “Rolling Mia Tours”

Almasy's Vehicle of 1933

The completed vehicle, technical details and historical photographs are presented here:

...the works go on...

After the car looked nearly ready some time ago – naturally there was still a lot to be done on it. To “look ready” and “to be ready” is quite a difference.

  • In the meantime the vehicle is officially in Germany with H-Kennzeichen. That means that it is officially recognized as a historical vehicle. As you may recognize – the number is very close to the one Almasy had on his car in 1933 – the only difference is the “H” which we have instead of the “8”.
  • The canpy is fixed on the back of the cabin. Not yet 100% fine but it will come.
  • Mirrors were added on both sides – without them it is fairly dangerous to drive on roads.
  • The seat had to be lowered. As it was originally I could simply not life with – I am obviously a bit taller than people were in 1933. And – the ugly blue cover was exchanged against a very nice brown one.
  • We have removed the heating. There is hardly a chance that such was installed for Almasy's 1933 expedition.
  • Rust and dirt from the tank was still causing problems. Blocking also the carburettor. It seems that the problem is solved now and the car's not stopping anymore whilst rolling into a roundabout.

There is still plenty to do and the time is running….

The Air Filter

Unfortunately neither Bagnold nor Almasy are mentioning in their books the use of an air-filter for their Ford A. The original configuaration of the car was that it had no air-filter but just the open air intake at the carburetor.

Considered the dusty desert environment and the removed mudguards (which would have provided some protection at least), this looks not to be “healthy” for the engine.

What to do? There is a little air-filter available in the aftermarket. But it is really not what one expects to apply for the desert – and it it looks as it could catch fire at any time when the engine and the exhaust are really hot.

Our solution found was a rather radical one: We applied the biggest filter possible. Such meanst that the engine can “breath” for sure. The location for the filter was chosen so that it is largely hidden, expecially after the casing is painted black.

To calm down enthusiasts who may think that a true oldtimer was “destroyed” for this project: It was not. All modifications we made are done in a way that the original status can be regained with not much work. Something similar was actually already done in 1933: Since Almasy only rented the vehicles he had to give them back to the owner the same way he had obtained them…