Much of the following information was supplied by Frank Rosin of the Evergreen Chapter
and by Dick and Sam Upton of the Tucson Chapter, MAFCA
The Hubley Company of Pennsylvania made accurate metal replicas of Model A Fords and other cars for many years. There are seven Model "A" Ford body styles available: Four Door Sedan, Station Wagon, Coupe, Roadster, Roadster Pickup, Victoria, and Phaeton.
The kits contain several metal body castings and an assortment of plastic parts. It does take some time to clean up all the pieces and paint them, but the results are well worth the effort. This is a great family participation project for the younger members, as everyone who races a car must be involved in some part of the building of it.
The original Hubley and Gabriel models can still be located in swap meets, antique stores, eBay, and many times sitting on a shelf if you have been a Model "A'er" for some time. The Scale Model version can be purchased in the larger hobby stores. All the parts are interchangeable between Hubley, Gabriel and Scale Model.
One day many years ago, someone got the idea that it might be fun to "race" these model cars down a track similar to the "Pinewood Derby" that the Boy and Girl Scouts use. The Hubley Derby is a gravity race using the die cast 1/24 scale metal models made by Hubley, Gabriel, and Scale Model. Many of our meets now have an event for "the kids" - racing their toy Model A cars. Usually only appearing in local and regional MAFCA events, the "Hubley Derby" came into the national spotlight when it was an official event in at the 1994 Tacoma MAFCA/MARC National Meet.
The race is a great participant and spectator sport. The crowds really get involved in the runoffs and cheer for their favorites. The format is side by side racing on a three-lane track with elimination races until the age group champion is finally crowned. Some of the fiercest competition is in the 18 and over age group.
Technical Tips for Builders
It is very important to make sure the inside surface of the wheel hubs are smooth so they turn freely against the brake drums. The outside of the brake drums are sanded smooth to remove any casting seams so the wheels will spin freely. Dry lubricants such as powdered graphite will help to make the wheels spin freely. This is important because some cars will run as if the brakes are dragging if that step is neglected.
When assembling the front end, insert the screws which hold the tie rod on from the bottom rather than from the top. This will allow the front wheels to be locked in a straight ahead position without having to remove the body. It may take some adjustment to get the wheels pointing straight. This is an option because some fast cars also have the tie rod ends loose so the wheels can turn left and right and follow the rails down the track. Whether the front wheels are locked straight ahead or able to turn easily is up to the individual racer.
If you have any questions you may contact Bob Ward Jr., 909 924-6052
Hubley and toy car Sites on the Internet:
Days Gone - UK.
Lledo PLC, Britain's leading manufacturer of die-cast model vehicles. A Division of Joseph L. Ertl, they began producing models in the late 1990s. They were located at 301 5th St. NW, P.O. Box 327, Dyersville, IA 52040-0327
On April 22, 2002 a phone call to Scale Models got this disappointing information:
Scale Models is no longer manufacturing Model A models. When the current stocks are gone, they will not manufacture any more. They currently have Station Wagon, Victoria, and Phaeton models in stock. Scale Model Supply in St. Paul MN (651.646.8081) have body styles no longer in Scale Models stock.
- Hubley Toy Vehicles, by Steve Butler. 160 Pages. This book details production from 1946 to 1965, when the company was purchased by Gabriel Industries. Information from a complete set of Hubley catalogs and over 500 beautiful color photographs of actual toys make this the most comprehensive treatment of Hubley toys. Charts record every vehicle offered with its variations, and a current price guide makes this a most valuable resource for the collector. $29.95 (BK-2476)
- Collectors Guide to Diecast Toys and Scale Models by Dana Johnson features descriptions, color photos and current values. Send $20.00 check or money order payable in US funds to:
Dana Johnson Enterprises, Dept. DTSM, P O Box 1824, Bend OR 98009-1824