In 1955, young Karl Kreutziger Sr. wanted a car so he could end his days taking the bus to high school in Wichita, Kansas.
Little did he know that the 1929 Ford Model A he found a deal on would also serve as a first car for his son, and then his grandsons, as they drove around Villa Park and Anaheim Hills.
He certainly didn’t know that nearly 65 years later, he’d be back behind the wheel of that old Model A driving around Oceanside.
That car, Kreutziger Sr. said, has become a symbol for the memories he has shared with his family. “Time spent with family is the most precious thing to me.”
Kreutziger Sr. used his Boy Scout connections to find the neglected Model A, stashed away in a barn by the widow of the original owner.
He got the car for less than $100, towed it home with the help of his older brother, Ken, and worked with his dad to get it running again.
“It was the hit of the parking lot,” he said. “I don’t want to say it was a date magnet, but a lot of girls liked to take a ride in it.”
The car passed on from brother to brother until around 1963. Then, it sat dormant, covered with a tarp, for nearly two decades, Kreutziger Sr. said.
In 1982, Kreutziger and his sons, Kent and Karl Kreutziger Jr., spent about five days hauling the car more than 1,300 miles from Kansas to their Anaheim Hills home.
The father and sons then spent more weeks getting the now 53-year-old Model A driving again – now it would get the boys to Canyon High.
“I thought it would be fun for my sons,” Kreutziger Sr. said. “It was a chance for them to learn how cars work and take some pride in all the work.”
The Model A was a tight fit for Kreutziger Jr., who eventually grew to be 6-foot-5. But still, he drove the car with his high school sweetheart, Lori, who became his wife. “This thing really got me around.”
Then the Model A sat in the Anaheim Hills garage for another nearly three decades, until it was the time for Kent Kreutziger’s sons, Kohl and Konner, to have their first car. They too drove it to school at Canyon High.
“I saved it because it’s a part of me,” Kreutziger Sr. said. “Why would we want to get rid of it?”
But the car’s motors had overheated, the pistons were stuck and the engine frozen. Kreutziger Sr. and his two grandsons had to take “everything out” of the car, he said.
They spent a lot of hours at an auto repair shop near the Old Towne Orange Plaza, working with a mechanic to rebuild the car.
“The deal we had was in order for them to spend some time, I would not work on the car by myself,” he said. “They had worked a lot of hours and learned a lot. It had become a part of them.”
But the grandsons had moved away to college by 2015, and the car went to rest again in Kreutziger Sr.’s Anaheim Hills home.
A few years later he and his wife were moving to a retirement home in Oceanside and there was no room for storing an old Model A.
Kreutziger Jr. came to the rescue, getting his father-in-law, Gary Calkins, to stow the car, which was again struggling with its age.
Calkins spent several hundreds of hours between August and November overhauling the car, complete with new paint and trimmings.
“He’s a master mechanic,” Kreutziger Jr. said.
And at the family’s Thanksgiving gathering at Kreutziger Jr.’s Villa Park home, he had a surprise for his dad.
“When you left this car behind, you really didn’t want to do that,” Kreutziger Jr. recalled telling his dad as he unveiled the now 90-year-old Model A that looked and ran like new.
Kreutziger Sr. grabbed Calkins in a big hug. “He knew he did all the work,” Kreutziger Jr. said.
Kreutziger Sr. said he had accomplished a lot in his life: He was a Navy officer; he worked in a very large company; his son rose to be president of C.W. Driver, which employs hundreds across California.
But when he looks at his life and what was really fun and important, he said the Model A has been a marker of those memories. “It’s just something I look back on.”
Kreutziger Sr. returned home to Oceanside with that Model A. For the last few months, he’s been showing it off in parades.
“That thing,” Kreutziger Jr. said. “is going to stay with my dad until he’s not around anymore.”
Source: Orange County Register