Car show surprise: Eddie's Model A

Alexandria Randolph/Highland Lakes Newspapers

Eddie Schlegelmilch of Kingsland revels in a dream came true on Saturday, Oct. 1. His family surprised him with his own 1931 Ford Model A, in near perfect condition, at the Kiwanis Club Main Street Car Show. See an albumn of photos from the show and Eddie's big surprise on The-Highlander page on Facebook.

by Alexandria Randolph

Highland Lakes Newspapers


When Eddie Schlegelmilch joined his daughter, future son-in-law and grandson for a morning at the Kiwanis Club Main Street Car Show in Marble Falls, he probably simply expected a day out. What his family surprised him with was a dream come true.

Schlegelmilch, a cancer patient, has been in hospice care in Kingsland for the last six months. His daughter Sara Schlegelmilch and her fiance Jay Reichert moved to Marble Falls to be nearer to him.

On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 1, Eddie's eyes lit up as he scanned a row of antique cars, and saw his own burgundy 1931 Ford Model A.

“We stole it and put it in the car show,” Reichert said. “He had been restoring it for over 15 years… He tried a lot on his own and came a long way until the engine went out.”

The couple took the vehicle out of storage and set about to get it back in shape. Reichert said they found Ross Lilleker, a British engine specialist living in Bastrop, who rebuilt the engine.

“We redid the engine and fixed the fenders,” he said.

When Reichert and Sara Schlegelmilch fired up the engine on Saturday, the only words Eddie managed amidst tears were, “beautiful. Beautiful sound.”

Sara Schlegelmilch said to see the car running again was her father's dying wish.

“I don't think there are words for that,” she said, in trying to describe how it felt to help her father achieve his dream.

“It's a stress reliever too,” she said. “Even above family this is his love. He's given more than most to his country. He kept going back overseas until they kicked him out because of failing health.”

Eddie served four tours in the Vietnam War. His repeated exposure to the Agent Orange chemical used to defoliate the jungle to assist in US Military tactics eventually led to his diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Before moving to Kingsland, Eddie lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he “kicked around a little bit,” and worked for the government until his retirement.

Eddie Schlegelmilch was overjoyed to see the car completed. While Eddie now uses a motorized wheelchair to get around, he was too excited to miss the chance to sit in the driver's seat of his old Model A.

“It floored me,” he said of the surprise.

Reichert said Eddie first discovered the car in a family member's barn.

“It was in a hay barn,” Eddie Schlegelmilch said, laughing. “When we took it out and drove it out, he asked me, 'Is it smoking?' There was too much dirt coming off of it to tell if it was smoking or not.

“It's even got the old keys!” He said to his daughter. “You certainly know how to choke a person up.”

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