“I was telling friends of mine about a car that came out in the 1980’s. It had a Ford Model A skin and a Pinto engine. I believe it was built on a Ford production line. Can you help me find more information?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff had heard of classic auto reproductions, but not this particular one.
Our series of books about the history of the Ford Motor Company and its cars by Lorin Sorensen was published before 1980. Not finding what we needed in the library’s print collection, we expanded the search to online. We searched www.ohioweblibrary.org and MasterFILE Premiere (EBSCOhost) for any full text articles on the subject. We extended to search engines, and found some promising leads. www.RonSusser.com, an automobile sales site, and www.ConceptCarz.com include some history and wonderful photographs of the 1980 Shay Model A.
The best source of information was www.shayhistory.com. It includes history of the original Model A, the Shay, and the Shay Model A Roadster Publicity Brochures and Documents. The latter are very interesting to view. This site also has the Spring of 2002 term paper, History of Shay Motors by Nathan Shay, grandson of Harry Shay. Harry worked for General Motors before being employed by Ford. The Model A & Model T Motor Car Reproduction Corporation was founded by Harry Shay in 1978. Production began in 1979. He changed the company name to Shay Motors Corporation in 1980 and he worked out an arrangement with Ford who waived design patents and supplied the platforms. The cars were sold in Ford dealerships and warranted by them. They were built in a factory in Battle Creek Michigan and were made of fiberglass created from a mold of an original Model A. First built using the Pinto engine and drivetrain; when Pinto production ended, the switch was made to Fairmount parts. Unfortunately due to a multitude of reasons, the company went bankrupt in 1982.