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Easy Riders

No need to go any faster, according to Max, who plans to use the Model A as his primary mode of transportation. Driving around Kaunakakai last week, the car was already building up a buzz.

“I call it the smile machine,” Max said, “because what it does is it brings back memories. People tell you stories like you wouldn’t believe.”

In addition to smiles, the car – named Emily – also brings the couple savings. Equipped with an original four-cylinder Ford engine, the Model A takes regular gas and can achieve up to 48 miles per gallon.

Part of the savings is in the slowness, Max said. Staying below 45 mph means the engine isn’t working too hard, he said, thus saving gas in any car. With the Model A, that’s the only option.

The couple sought the car to replace one Joyce had years ago in California – “I’ve always just ached to have it again,” she said – and named this Model A after her old one. The car was popular with doctors back in its hey-day, and is “just your basic car,” Max said – a stripped-down version of today’s vehicles. It has only six volts of electricity, unlike the 12 volts in most modern cars. Almost everything requires manual action in the Model A; even turning it on is a multi-step process that might confuse most drivers.

The seller wanted to make sure the new owners wouldn’t turn it into a hot rod, Max said, and he and Joyce have no such plans. They like the car the way it is, with its original black steel body, rumble seat in the back, and cable brakes – no hydraulics here.

Their only plans right now are to replace its current 16-inch wheels with 19- to 21-inch wheels, which were the standard in 1930, and to enjoy themselves cruising around Molokai. They’re even interested in helping other locals import antique cars from the mainland, Joyce said.

“There’s no computers, no air conditioning, no heater,” Max said, looking at the car. He smiled, adding, “It’s pretty cool.”

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