Okie “A” Model A Club
If there is anything you want to know about Model A cars, just ask Don Burnett. Not only can he tell you every detail about the antique cars and their history, he can also repair them.
The designated mechanic for the Okie “A” Model A Club, Don has a reputation for fixing most anything placed before him. He and his wife, Norma, joined the club about 16 years ago after a road trip to Enid with the group. It is something they both enjoy and can do together.
The road trip was not Don’s first exposure to Model A. Growing up in the 1930s, he was working in his father’s garage by the time he was 10 years old. The Model A was manufactured from 1928-1931, so he worked on his share of the popular vehicles.
After joining the club, Don bought his own Model A, which needed lots of work. He wondered if he would be able to do the repairs. It had been 50 years since he had worked on a Model A.
“It was like opening an old book when I looked into it,” he said. “It all came back.”
Not only was he able to fix his car but a member of the club asked, “Would you work on my car?” Then another and another asked, and Don now has cars waiting for him to repair. He said the hardest thing about owning and working on the Model A is finding equipment and being able to afford the upkeep. “Old cars aren’t cheap” is the motto for the 40-member club.
Don once owned seven Model A vehicles, but he has downsized to a fleet of four. A black sedan with white doors was once used as a sheriff’s car for a movie filmed in Guthrie. A black and white, four-door sedan with a siren and red light was used as a police car in a different movie. Don has had as many as four Model A’s used in the same documentary. Although he enjoys all the antique cars, his favorite is the small, square-back Model A pickup. “It’s a keeper,” he said.
The Okie “A” Model A Club keeps a busy schedule throughout the year, driving in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Oklahoma City, the 89er parade in Guthrie and the LibertyFest and Christmas parades in Edmond, to name a few. Club members also “salute” businesses that advertise in their monthly newsletter by driving to their locations on the first Saturday morning of the month. The business advertises to the public that old cars will be on site and people congregate early to see the Model A.
Don said the club would like to have some younger members come on board, “some new blood.” Having held every office available — more than once — Don is now the permanent membership director. At monthly meetings, a member often will demonstrate something concerning the Model A to the rest of the group. The “old timers” are always happy to help out the younger ones. In fact, Don said he would like to pass on some of his mechanical secrets to a younger person interested in the Model A.
A family-oriented club, the group takes road trips once a month. “We don’t travel the super highway,” Don said. “We can only do 40-45 mph and it is just too dangerous with the high speed limits.” But they enjoy the roads less traveled and the camaraderie of the group.
Born in Oklahoma City, Don grew up in the metro area and moved to Edmond 32 years ago. He worked at Otis Elevator for 40 years, building, repairing and maintaining elevators. Don and Norma, the club’s social director, married 42 years ago, both having been widowed. They raised five children together. “Every one of them turned out well,” Norma said.
Don and Norma live on an acreage in north Edmond where Don has a 5,000-square-foot shop to support his “hobby” of Model A cars. Although he doesn’t give his age, Don jokes that “anything made in the ‘20s has to be old!”
But he shows no signs of slowing down, even after a shoulder injury a few years ago that ripped away the muscle, requiring surgery and extensive therapy. He still repairs cars and is always open to questions. “Many times I can help someone on the phone — tell them what to do to fix the car,” he said.
The Okie “A” Model A Club meets on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Newchurch, 9201 N. Rockwell in Oklahoma City. For more information, contact Don Burnett at [email protected] or call 405-830-4320.