Passion for the ACar Collectors, Rusty & Rita Gould


Before he even entered kindergarten, Rusty Gould became enamored with the Model A automobile, Ford’s successor to the historic Model T.

Manufactured from 1927-32, the Model A was the first Ford to feature the company’s iconic blue oval logo and the first to use the standard set of driver controls with a conventional clutch, brake pedals, throttle and gear shift, along with a shatterproof safety windshield and hydraulic shocks.

In the early 1950s, Gould’s mechanically-inclined grandfather purchased a Model A fire truck, converted it into a standard truck and began taking his enthralled toddler grandson for rides.

“He kept the siren working and at about three or four years old, I was just amazed by that truck,” Rusty remembers. “I loved the colors and everything about riding in it. I caught the Model A bug right then.”

Gould indeed caught the bug and has never let go.

In 1964, during his senior year at Flint Northern, a 17-year-old Gould purchased his first Model A, a 1931 Tudor. Fellow students did double-takes as he began driving it to school.

During his senior year at Flint Northern, 17-year-old Rusty Gould purchased his first Model A, a 1931 Tudor.

“Safe to say that it was the only Model A in Flint Northern’s parking lot,” Gould says, chuckling.

The car was eventually sold as Gould was drafted and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. After completing his military service, he married Rita, the love of his life, in 1970.

While marriage and starting a family along with a decades-long career at General Motors were certainly fulfilling, Gould felt there was one thing missing and in 1973, began searching for his next Model A.

He found one sitting in a field north of Flint in less-than-ideal condition.

“Well, there was a tree growing through the middle of it and the roof had rotted out, among other things,” Gould says.

Recognizing the vehicle’s potential as only a true Model A enthusiast would, Gould shelled out $600, cut the 1930 Model A Rumble Seat Coupe free from that tree, secured it on his trailer and headed back home to surprise Rita.

Her reaction was rather tepid.

1929 Woody Wagon

“I was trying to figure out why Rusty would pay $600, a huge sum of money then, for such a piece of junk when we had a growing family to feed,” Rita says. “Later, though, I saw how passionate he was about restoring it. He spent five years completely transforming that Model A into a real beauty queen.”

Still, with the Goulds raising three children who were heavily involved in various activities and both managing careers, the shiny black beauty with red wheels sat mostly in storage for the next two decades.

During the 1990s, with their children grown, Rusty was finally afforded more time for his Model A passion and driving the coupe he had so painstakingly brought back to life.

Soon, Rusty decided it was time to add to his collection and found a light green 1929 Tudor in Adrian, MI.

This time, Rita’s reaction was much different when her husband pulled his trailer into their driveway holding a Model A in far better condition. At that moment, the Model A bug truly bit her.

A 1929 Speedster is the most recent addition to the collection.

“I saw Rusty pull in with that car and I told him it was going to be mine,” she recalls with a laugh. “I made it my own by glitzing it up with big eyelashes on the headlights and a large diamond ring gas cap.”

With the his-and-hers Model As, the Goulds began attending Flint’s Back to the Bricks event and caught the attention of fellow enthusiasts who were members of both the national Model A Restorers Club and its local chapters.

In 2008, Rusty and Rita, a retired Davison School District employee, eventually joined MARC and its Script A Region chapter based in Bridgeport.

The next opportunity to add to their fleet came when a Script A member was preparing to enter a nursing home and the family was holding an estate sale in Grand Blanc.

“I knew he had a nice 1929 Woody Wagon (featuring a wooden cab) and told Rusty to go take a good look and hopefully buy it for us,” Rita says.

Rusty varied from those instructions, however.

“Instead, he comes home with a wood-chipper and I’m like, ‘We don’t need that – what about the Woody Wagon?’,” she recalls. “I went back in a couple of days and, luckily, it was still available.”

The Goulds’ most recent addition is a two-seat 1929 yellow Speedster that was quite incomplete when they purchased it from a fellow club member.

“It had no top, fenders, doors or bumpers, among other things,” Rusty notes.

The vehicle was resurrected with parts from several other cars, including a silver Corvette, Chevrolet S-10 pickup and Ford F-150 truck. Rusty even installed steps from an 1894 horse buggy.

“It can go 85 miles an hour if we wanted, is fun to drive and a real eye-catcher, especially if I’m driving it wearing my bomber cap and big goggles,” he says.

When it comes to the MARC and Script A clubs, the Goulds did not simply become active members, both have held several leadership positions through the years, including serving as president of both clubs. No other married couple have both served as MARC president in the club’s 72-year history.

“Rusty and Rita are the reason my husband (Curt) and I became involved with Model As and they were so welcoming,” says current Script A President Wendy Hillman. “They are great organizers for everything from arranging hotel rooms to leading driving tours. Rusty has a wealth of knowledge about restoring and fixing Model As and Rita is our organizer. She even coined a word  – ‘voluntold’ – because she generally won’t take ‘no’ for an answer when asking people to become involved.”

“Taking a drive at 40-45 miles per hour on backroads with our fellow club members is a great way to slow down and enjoy life.”
Rita Gould

The Goulds drive their Model As a combined 1,000 miles per year, attending between 40-50 events with other club members and enjoying peaceful group rides in the countryside. Their six grandchildren and one great grandchild are frequent passengers, as well.

At least two of the Goulds’ Model As accompany them while they spend winters in Florida.

The Goulds drive their Model As a combined 1,000 miles per year, attending between 40-50 events with other club members and enjoying peaceful group rides in the countryside.

“Our world today is so rush-rush, so taking a drive at 40-45 miles per hour on backroads with our fellow club members is a great way to slow down and enjoy life,” says Rita, who also teaches others to drive Model As. “Other than the seven things you have to do before starting to drive, it’s not much different from driving a modern car; but they are stick-shift, of course.”

Added Rusty: “There is just something about taking the Model A down a two-lane, asphalt country road, driving alongside your good friends and their Model As. Our community is close-knit and all the friends we’ve made and people we’ve met along the way have been an incredible part of our experience.”

The couple also takes Model As to young and old alike.

Rusty and other club members give an annual presentation featuring several of the cars at the Bay County Intermediate School District’s vocational center. The Goulds and others from Script A regularly offer rides to nursing home residents, including a 102-year-old Ford retiree in 2019.

While camaraderie and simply getting behind the wheel are what the couple treasures most about belonging to the Model A community, they have collected numerous awards at various events.

“There are probably about 200 trophies in our recreation room,” Rusty estimates.

His coupe earned a perfect score of 500 at a car show in Oshkosh, WI after being docked two points at a previous show for a missing castle nut near the rear bumper.

“Getting a perfect score is not easy because there are, no joke, about 25-28 people judging every aspect of the car,” Rusty says. “They don’t miss anything.”

In 2022, a stunned Rusty was presented with MARC’s Kenny G. Brady Award at the national show in Morgantown, PA. Essentially, it’s the club’s lifetime achievement honor.

“I had no idea I had even been nominated and then my name was being called in front of about 400 people,” he says. “I was just shocked that of all the club members in the country, they picked me.”

Rusty Jr. and Robbie, the Goulds’ two sons, are also MARC and Script A members and will, along with sister Renee, inherit their parents’ Model A collection.

The final resting place for Rusty, who turns 77 in October, and Rita, 73, is a cemetery plot north of Montrose in the tiny community of Burt, featuring a headstone incorporating the likeness of Rusty’s coupe.

“Rita was driving her 1929 coupe with those eyelashes on the headlights and diamond on the gas cap when we first met her and we felt that was a real testament to how she wants to keep our hobby fun and encourage others to get involved,” Wendy Hillman says. “Rusty and Rita have such a passion for Model As and it rubs off on the rest of us.”


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