Rather than just a much updated version of the Model A, Ford launched a completely new model for 1932. The V-8 was marketed as the Model 18 in its initial year, and commonly simply called the Ford V‑8. It had the new flathead V‑8 engine. The Model 18 was the first low-priced, mass-marketed car to have a V8 engine, an important milestone in Automotive industry in the United States. The 221 cu in (3.6 l) V8 was rated at 65 hp (48 kW) when introduced, but power increased significantly with improvements to the carburetor and ignition in later years. This engine choice was more popular than the four-cylinder, which was essentially a variant of the Model A engine with improvements to balancing and lubrication.
Model B was derived with as few technical changes as possible to keep cost low. Other than the engine, and badging on headlamp support bar (later: grille) and hub caps, it was virtually indistinguishable from the V-8. Its intention was to be a price leader, and as it offered more than the popular Model A, this should have been a winning formula. In fact, the new and only slightly more expensive V-8 stole the show, and finally made it obsolete.
Although there is a certain optical relationship with the predecessor Model A, the car was new. While the Model A has a simple frame with two straight longitudinal members, the new car got a longer wheelbase, and an outward curved, double dropped chassis. In both models the fuel tank was relocated from the cowl as in Model A and late Model T, where its back had formed the dash, to the lower rear of the car, as is typical in modern cars; thus requiring Ford to include an engine-driven fuel pump rather than rely on gravity feed. While the V-8 was developed from scratch, the B just had an improved four-cylinder Model A engine of 201 cu in (3.29 L) displacement producing 50 horsepower (37 kW; 51 PS).
When Ford introduced the Model A in late 1927, there were several competitors also offering four cylinder cars, among them Chevrolet, Dodge, Durant, or Willys. That changed within a few years, soon leaving the new Plymouth the sole major make in the Ford's price class with a four.
Although sharing a common platform, Model Bs and Model 18s came not only in Standard and Deluxe trim, they were available in a large variety of body styles. Some of them, like the commercial cars described below, were only available as Standards, and a few other came only in Deluxe trim. There were two-door roadster, two-door cabriolet, four-door phaeton, two-door and four-door sedans, four-door 'woodie" station wagon, two-door Victoria, two-door convertible sedan, panel and sedan deliveries, five-window coupe, a sport coupe (stationary softtop), the three-window Deluxe Coupe, and pickup. The wooden panels were manufactured at the Ford Iron Mountain Plant in the Michigan Upper Peninsula from Ford owned lumber.
Prices ranged from US$495 for the roadster, $490 for the coupes, and $650 for the convertible sedan. Production totals numbered from 12,597 for the roadster to 124,101 for the two-door sedan. Ford sold 298,647 V8-powered 18s in 1932, and except for the fact Ford could not keep up with demand, the essentially identical four-cylinder B would have been a sales disaster: dealers switched customers to them from the V8, and even then sold only 133,539, in part because the V8 cost just US$10 more.
The B was discontinued because buyers disliked four cylinder models in general, and because of the huge success of the V-8, not for being an inferior car. In fact, it persisted a little longer in Europe, where in many countries the tax system heavily favored smaller-displacement engines.
Today, the 1932 Model B, although always a little bit in the shadow of the V-8, is a highly collectible car and people will pay thousands of dollars to restore one to original specification.
All 1932 Fords—V8-8s and Model Bs—came with black fenders, wire wheels, and a rear-mounted spare wheel (side mount on cars equipped with a tail gate). Options included single or twin sidemounts, luggage rack, clock, in- and outside mirrors, and choice of leather or Broadcloth (closed cars) interior material.
Paints were Pyroxylin lacquer.
The B shared frame, bodies, and even most of the trim with the eight cylinder car. The only technical difference was the use of the slightly reworked Model A engine, thus the designation B. Most body styles were available as Standard or Deluxe variants with either engine offered as an option. Customers could get a deluxe version of the 1932 Model B in three-window coupe (which only came in deluxe model), roadster, phaeton, Tudor and Fordor as well.
Standard trim meant black front window frame, black wire wheels (color optional), black horn (chrome-plated optional), single tail light (2nd optional), painted dash, position lights integrated in the head lamps (Deluxe cowl lamps optional), and less expensive interiors.
When the Model 40 and the new B were introduced February 9, 1933, revisions of the car were substantial, especially considering how important the 1932 change had been. For its second year, the wheelbase was stretched, from 106 in (2692 mm) to 112 in (2845 mm) on a new crossmember frame. The grille was revised, gaining a pointed forward slope at the bottom which resembled either a shovel or the 1932 Packard Light Eight. Both the grille and hood louvers curved down and forward. The overall design and grille were inspired by the English Ford Model Y. Streamlining was further accentuated by the new hood which now covered the cowl, giving an impression of more length. In addition, there were more rounded and skirted fenders and new, elegantly bowed bumpers. Headlamp support bars were no longer in use, and there were new wire wheels. The cars got a new dashboard with instruments set in an oval insert in front of the driver. There was a glove box on the passenger side. Closed Deluxe models received heavy DI-NOC woodgraining on dash and window frames, and there were deeper seat cushions.
There were 10 body styles (14 if standard and Deluxe trim levels are counted separately). Now, all were available for V-8s and the Model B, which thus got Deluxe models, too. Convertible Coupes and Victoria came in Deluxe trim only, and the most expensive car in the line, the "woody", as a Standard only. It cost US$590 with the four cylinder engine.
The cars gained about 3% in weight, compensated for with more powerful engines, as on the V-8 with its 15% increase in power.
Total sales for the model year were up to 311,113and 334,969 for calendar year.
Power from the V8 rose to 75 hp (56 kW) with a revised ignition system. The four-cylinder engine continued unchanged, but was referred to (by some) as the Model C, though Ford never referred to its "Improved Four-Cylinder engine" as a "Model C" engine. There is some dispute over this; some sources say it was a common misconception due to the introduction of a larger counterbalanced crankshaft during the Model B engine production, and the letter "C" casting mark on most, but not all, of the Model B heads. On the other side, this integrally counterweighted crankshaft was first introduced for truck engines only. When they proved superior concerning smoothness and longevity, they were introduced for worldwide four cylinder production. Together with the fact that there were huge quantities of "B" code engines in stock which needed to be used up, this explains why there are "B" and "C" coded engines in some model years. as Canadian-built cars used the prefix "C" on their identification plates, there is another source for errors. Model Bs start with prefix "AB", V-8s with "18-1". (Model A part number suffix was ‑A, Police Special High Compression head part number suffix was ‑b, and there was a fairly large letter "B" casting mark about the center of the head.)
The 1934 Ford (the Model 40B) was not as substantial a model year change as the previous two years had been.
Noticeable changes included a flatter grille with a wider surround and fewer bars, straight hood louvers, two handles on each side of the hood, smaller head lights and cowl lamps, and a reworked logo. The bare metal dash insert was replaced by painted steel.
V‑8 output was again increased, this time to 85 hp (63 kW), and the four-cylinder Model B engine was in its last year, as was the Victoria body style; nevertheless, there were fourteen body options, the Tudor being top-seller. The standard three window coupe was deleted.
Deluxes had pinstriping, again twin (chromed) horns, and twin back lights. Inside, they got more eloborate wood graining.
The 1934 Ford V-8 is infamous as being the vehicle in which the notorious Depression-era bandits Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed. On May 23, 1934, the two outlaws were traveling in a stolen 1934 Ford sedan in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, when a heavily armed law enforcement posse opened fire and riddled their car with bullets and buckshot.
Fords of 1932–1934 are extremely popular with hot rodders.
During the period after WWII, Model Bs and 18s were frequently rodded. This continued into the 1960s on a large scale, as noted in the hit song and as the pivotal street racing car in the film "American Graffiti". Today, the roadster and coupe are the most sought after body styles, as these were popular for street rods and hotrods; unmodified examples have become rare. Since the 1970s, 1932 bodies and frames have been reproduced either in fiberglass or lately in steel, which has helped resolve sheetmetal shortages, and increased the number of rods being created or restored. These are often very expensive, and a typical show-quality car may sell for $60,000 or more.
Deuce coupe is a slang term used to refer to the 1932 Ford coupe, derived from the year of manufacture. In the 1940s, the '32 Ford became an ideal hot rod. Rodders would strip weight off this readily available car and hop up the engine. They came in two body styles, the more common 5-window and rarer suicide door 3-window. After World War II, the iconic stature of the 1932-vintage Ford in hot rodding inspired The Beach Boys to not only write a song entitled "Little Deuce Coupe" in 1963, but also had one of their albums named for the car, from the aforementioned song.
The picture featured on the front cover of the Beach Boys' album Little Deuce Coupe was supplied by Hot Rod magazine, and features the body (with his head cropped in the photo) of hod-rod owner Clarence 'Chili' Catallo and his own customized three-window 1932 Ford Coupe—known amongst hot rod enthusiasts as "the lil' deuce coupe".
Catallo bought the vehicle in 1956 for $75 in Michigan when he was 15 years old. Catallo replaced the original stock Ford engine (unlike The Beach Boys song lyrics, which mention "a flathead mill") with a newer Oldsmobile V-8, and lowered the height of the coupe by six inches. Much of the original customizing work, including the stacked headlights, side trim, and front grille was done by an auto shop owned by Mike and Larry Alexander in the Detroit suburb of Southfield. After Catallo moved to Southern California, additional work, including the 'chopping' or lowering of the roof, was done in 1960-61 at 'Kustom City', George Barris's noted North Hollywood auto customizing shop. This led to the magazine cover and two years later, the shot was featured as the cover for The Beach Boys' fourth album. Catallo sold the coupe a few years later but, urged by his son Curt, he was able to buy it back in the late 1990s for $40,000. The car had since been additionally modified but was restored by Catallo with many of the original parts the coupe had in the early 1960s, so that it now is again virtually identical to the famous photo. In 2000, the hot rod won the 'People's Choice' award at the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance.
Most newly built hot rods use fiberglass or more expensive, newly minted, steel bodies. The classic 1932 Ford lines are closely reproduced with new bodies. Sometimes original bodies are used, but the cost of originals is quite high. Because the 1932 Ford is extremely popular with hot rodders, unmodified versions are becoming rare. Although distinctly different in appearance, 1933 and '34 Fords are also popular starting points for hot rod construction.
The following cars might or might not be Model Bs. Chances are also that either V-8s were used, or that they have modern parts (chassis, complete bodies, or body panels) that are produced for hot rodder's needs. You can build your complete car, using only aftermarket parts.
There were no specific plants for the Model B. It rolled side by side with the V-8 off the line. In 1932, Ford Motor Company had 32 plants in the USA, one in Canada, seven in Europe (one for Fordson tractor production only), four in Central and South America, and one each in Turkey and Japan. Vehicles were manufactured at the Ford River Rouge Plant, then sent to the various assembly locations in "knock-down kits", where they were locally assembled and sold.Atlanta (Georgia)
Buffalo (New York)
Charlotte (North Carolina)
Des Moines (Iowa),
Edgewater (New Jersey)
Kansas City (Missouri)
Long Beach (California)
New Orleans (Louisiana)
Oklahoma City (Oklahoma)
St. Louis (Missouri)
St. Paul (Minnesota)
Dagenham (United Kingdom)
The Ford V8 was also made by Ford in Britain in the 1930s. It was conservatively re-styled and relaunched as the post-war Ford Pilot which came with two V8 engine options.Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Mexico City (Mexico)
Santiago de Chile
São Paulo (Brazil)
As with the previous model A, there were heavier commercial vehicles. They were available with either the venerable four or the more powerful V-8. The four cylinder truck got the designation "BB", following a practice started with the "TT" and "AA" trucks.
The BB had longer wheelbases of 131.5 or 157 in. (3340 or 3988 mm), a reinforced frame, heavy duty transmissions and axles, and bigger wheels. Wire wheels were standard on the light duty cars, the heavier got steel wheels (some of them dual on the rear axle). There was a separate catalogue offering popular body styles, rolling chassis or chassis and cab. Many local coachbuilders offered their coachwork to customers in need of more specific solutions. During the Depression, also ambulances, hearses, or fire trucks found their way to budget-minded communities and organizations.
Other than with the Model B automobiles, BB designated four as well as eight cylinder trucks. V-8 was strictly an option, even for heavy trucks. The bulk of these vehicles came with four cylinder engines.
These trucks may be mistaken for B or V-8 commercial cars built on the passenger car chassis. Sedan deliveries, pickups, and station wagons were the best remembered of these. They had elongated bodies and stiffer springs, and were generally shown in the commercial car catalogue, even if the wagon was the most expensive body style available on the passenger car chassis.