Traveling approximately 500 miles, at 50 mph, over a five-day period, is what the GAMARAI tour is all about.
The tour stopped in Shenandoah on Tuesday, Sept. 10, as Ford Model A’s were seen across town. Some of them were members of the Central Iowa Model A Club, taking their annual GAMARAI (Great Annual Model A Ride Around Iowa) tour across Iowa.
“We mainly travel in Iowa, but we are violating that tomorrow because we are actually going over to Lincoln, Nebraska,” said Clarence Cory, president of the Central Iowa Model A Club.
Cory is from Ames, and they also have people from Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota that participate in the GAMARAI tour. A person does not have to be a member of the Central Iowa Model A Club to participate in the GAMARAI tour. They only need to have a Model A.
This is the 24th year of the GAMARAI tour, with this particular tour starting in Des Moines. Prior to reaching Shenandoah, the tour had passed through Corning, Villisca, and stayed Monday night in Clarinda. Highlights of their visit in Clarinda were the Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum, Glenn Miller Museum and the Nodaway Valley Museum.
From Shenandoah they were headed west to Nebraska City and Lincoln, and then coming back through Council Bluffs, Atlantic, Audubon and Panora before heading home. Along the route they had points of interest in each town.
“Some of our days are very structured, but Tuesday is our leisure day,” said Cory.
While in Shenandoah they all knew the points of interest, the Everly Brothers Childhood Home, the Shenandoah museum and the Walk of Fame, but they were able to do their own perusing.
This year ended up being one of their smaller GAMARAI tours with only about 22 Model A’s. Last year they had around 37 Model A’s.
“We just pick a direction, and this year we said let’s go southwest,” said Cory. Then they sit down and start laying out the travel plans. The GAMARAI tour has gone through SW Iowa previously, a few years back.
Before touring Iowa in a Model A, you first have to learn how to drive it.
“People always ask what the fastest speed is a Model A can go. Let’s talk about the speed we can safely go, and that is right around 50 mph,” said Cory. “Some of these guys have over drive, and souped-up this and that’s so they could drive faster, but your steering isn’t any better, and your brakes are not any better.”
Because of the cars’ typical limitations, the tour route is intentional.
“So, we try to stay off the busier roads. When you get this many cars, even though they are spread out going down the road, if you’re a truck hauling grain or cattle, you don’t want to see those Model A’s,” said Cory.
One of the reasons for keeping the speed down is the Model A’s have manual brakes instead of contemporary hydraulic brakes or disk brakes. It doesn’t make sense to go more than 50 mph.
Most owners of a Ford Model A, have knowledge of the car’s history.
“The Model T’s were made from 1908 to 1927. Then, in 1927 Henry was out of date with his Model T, and he closed the factory, and re-opened it starting over with the alphabet again, with the Model A. So the Model A was made from 1928 to 1931. Then in 1932 they had a Model B, but they also had Ford’s first flathead V8. So, we’re kind of in that 1928 to 1931 era with the Model A’s,” explained Cory.
There were 4,858,644 Model A’s made, and getting parts for them now is not an issue. There are companies that make duplicate parts.
“A lot of the Model A’s have survived for some reason, and it’s amazing,” said Cory.
There are two big differences between the Model T and the Model A. The first is the motor on the Model A has twice as many horsepower. The Model T has 20hp and the Model A has 40hp, even though it is only 4-cylinder.
The second difference is that in the Model T the transmission is a planetary design.
“It was made of bands. So when you pushed on a pedal you were pushing on what was like a leather band, that would wear out,” said Cory.
The Model A has a clutch and a three-speed transmission.
“So, it’s starting to get more modern, but the only problem was the Model A didn’t have synchronized gears,” said Cory.
On the Model A, shifting to the next gear by pushing in the clutch, as on a modern car, the transmission gears would grind.
“You have to take it out of gear, speed up the speed of your motor, push the clutch back in a second time, and then put it in gear,” said Cory. “It’s called double clutching, and you do this in order to get it to mesh, and not grind too bad between the gears. It takes practice to drive them but it’s do-able.”
The transmission design was a step towards modernization, but nowhere close to today’s manual-shift cars.
The Central Iowa Model A Club also participates in the Iowa State Fair parade, and a July 4th parade, that are club sponsored.
“We don’t really do shows,” said Cory. “The Central Iowa Model A Club is more of a driving club, with this being the biggest drive of the year.”
For anyone that would like to join The Central Iowa Model A Club they can go to https://www.centraliowamodelaclub.com for an application. For those just wanting to participate in the GAMARAI tour, they can watch for the announcements in the National Model A magazine.