Traveling through the villages and hamlets of the Northeast, you'll often come across interesting roadside discoveries like Ezold's Model A Garage in Westfield, Massachusetts. If you stop by, chat up owner Frank Ezold. Then ask to see his "secret" garage.
This is really one of those places that once you step inside, you are instantly transported to another era. When you come into the front entrance there is a glass display counter filled with vintage Ford parts, as were the walls behind it. While I was waiting for the proprietor to become available, I wandered throughout the shop. In one area there was a Model A Roadster with a 1950 Oldsmobile 303 V-8 resting between the frame rails. In another part of the shop is a Bright Yellow Model A that was undergoing a mild refresh, while on the lift was a beautiful green (black) model A pickup. In the back of the shop was milling machines, engine blocks, vintage tools, and more that seemed to be haphazardly strewn throughout the place.
Frank Ezold, the owner of the garage, loved the Model A Fords, whether they were stock or modified. He owns and has owned a number of them, and it was during the 1970's he started gathering parts for the Model A as a way of keeping his cars running, as well as a ready stockpile to sell to other Ford enthusiasts. He said he specializes in all Ford engines, right up to the 70's. In all the years he has been rebuilding engines, only two came back to be rebuilt again.
Frank opened his current shop in Westfield in 1996 at what could be called the height of the collector car boom. He estimates that he has over 500 Model A engines in various stages of teardown, as well as about 300 Flathead V-8s. On one wall there are engine manifolds hanging like sculptures, and a bare chassis on stands sitting next to them. But the Model A market is not what it once was, with mint cars only fetching about as much as a new Toyota Corolla. With this in mind, Frank started rebuilding other Ford engines, and he is in the process of relabeling the business by dropping the Model A portion of the company name.
Some of the cars offered for sale were interesting in themselves and include a postwar Chrysler Eight Passenger Limousine with Fluid Drive, two altered early 30's Fords, a good looking Ford F1 Pickup, and a peculiar little black Mustang II Cobra. But my interest peaked at the Vintage 1940 Ford Flatbed Wrecker. This truck lived all of its life in Westfield, Mass, with most of the time sitting in a field since 1955. Frank bought the truck thirteen years ago, added the flatbed unit from a wrecked wrecker (!), Beefed up the chassis, and added a tri-powered 406 CID Ford Engine from the 1961 – 62 time period. This serves as both an Public Relations and Advertising piece, as well as a truck that actually retrieves his customers cars to be worked on at his garage. It was at this point in the conversation that Frank told me he has three complete 428s, and two 427 Cobra Jets in the back of his building. Shhhhh, you didn't hear that from me….
I asked if he has any other toys hanging around, and we proceeded to another section of the shop. When he turned on the lights to the "secret" garage, his bright yellow 1930 Roadster shined like a beacon in the night. This was a beautiful, and entirely faithful recreation of a vintage 50's Hot Rod. In front was a 1946 59A Ford Flathead V-8, bored out to 307 CID, generating a healthy 200 HP. It is connected to a three speed Lincoln Zephyr transmission, driving the rear wheels with vintage looking racing slicks. The look was just right, and extremely well done. I asked how long it took him to do this, and he said about one year.
There's a couple of other projects housed in the same area; A 1956 Crown Victoria Hardtop, and a 1962 Ford Galaxie two-door hardtop that is scheduled to see a tri-powered Cobra Jet transplanted into the engine bay. All of this takes time and energy, and Frank is the only employee on the payroll at this time. The financial meltdown took a toll on his business, confessing that there were times in which he didn't think he would make it, but he persevered. When you are doing something you love, it really isn't work, and there are signs of life in the collector car market. He is starting to ship items again to other garages and individuals who need the parts to keep their vintage Fords running.
Ezold's Model A Garage is a timeless oasis in an era of sanitized big box automotive stores who are run by mindless employees and faceless corporations that push substandard parts onto a clueless public for the pursuit of endless profits. Frank Ezold is a genuine purveyor of classic parts, knowledgeable about engine rebuilds, and an expert in most everything dealing with vintage Fords. If you are ever in the Westfield Massachusetts area, you should step back into time, and visit Frank Ezold and his shop.
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