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Have it Your Way: 1932 Ford V8 Cabriolet

The Model T was a rousing success for Henry Ford, but an internal argument was brewing. Competing automakers – particularly Chevrolet – were encroaching on Ford’s sales figures, and more than that, the notion of a motor with more than four cylinders for production cars was taking hold. In an attempt to revolutionalize the automobile via a new transmission and ignition system, Ford brought out the Model A. It sold steadily, but Chevrolet was still performing better. Meanwhile, Ford was in dire financial straits, having ceased production of the Model T well before it sold its first Model A – weakening the company just before the Great Depression nearly finished it off. And then came another thunderbolt, in the form of Chevy’s new six-cylinder engine. Ford finally let go of its four-cylinder romance and began work on a V8 that could be mass-produced. After much trial and error, the V8 was finally ready in 1932, and the first Model 18 rolled off the line. Here on eBay is a 1932 Ford Model 18 Cabriolet, bid to $18,000, reserve not met. This car lives just a few blocks from where yours truly writes, in Eagle Creek, Oregon.

Ford’s V8 motor was a victory of immense proportions for automaking. It was 221 cu. in. of brilliance, light and strong and cheap, producing about 65 bhp. The new Model 18 was so good that it attracted a less savory element – criminals loved it because it ran faster than the police! The seller indicates that this car – owned by a noted Northwest Ford restorer – has just over 68,000 miles, believed correct, and that the motor has been installed but not started. It does turn freely. We aren’t told if it’s been rebuilt.

The interior needs finishing as it is currently clothed in aged upholstery from its last re-do in 1952. The dash could use polishing and the gauge faces are aged. But overall, the interior is ready for a new owner’s creativity.

The underside is almost as nice as the exterior. Speaking of the exterior, we are assured that the body panels are all steel, all original, with great gaps, and completely free of previous repairs. The body has been treated to a PPG DP90 epoxy primer job; DP90 is not completely weatherproof but you can drive it a long time as is without suffering rust. The wheels have been powder coated, and the chrome is fresh. Nearly all the parts to complete this car are included. All told, this is a wonderful start for an original restoration or a hot rod. Which direction would you go?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Only one way to go on a car like this. Finish the restoration. If it was a rusty, beat up piece of junk then the door would be open to make anything you wanted out of it. In this case the “only original once” doesn’t really apply but it’s pretty darn close.

    Like 13
  2. Cadmanls Member

    Got a 59AB with a Merc crank and 60 over would slip right in there along with the Columbia rear. Add some brakes, they have some great discs that look like drums up front. Tube shocks and drive it

    Like 3
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      Had the Mercury engine in my ’32 coupe but solved the shock situation by putting 80-90 gear oil in the lever shocks. Worked well along with the ’48 Ford brakes.

      Like 4
  3. angliagt angliagt Member

    My Dad bought a ’32 Cabriolet (with twin side mount spares)
    in 1972,for $2500 from the private collection of Harvey Harper,
    whose family owned the local Ford dealer.It was a 4 cylinder,in
    near perfect shape,& my Dad only drove it a couple of times.He
    sold it about 25 years later for $24,500 to a guy in Iowa.I wonder
    if it’s still around.
    I need a few car investments like that.

    Like 7
    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      Your Dad had a ’32 Ford Cabriolet with a 4 cylinder engine? I think it would have been known as a Model B. I had a ’32 Chev Confederate RHD with a 6 cylinder engine which was one of my favourite cars ever but due to circumstances beyond my conrol at the time, I had to sell it. Three weeks later the economic crisis had been solved and I tried to buy it back but the new owner wouldn’t part with it. $”it happens sometimes.

      Like 2
      • angliagt angliagt Member

        Yes,it was a Model B.

  4. RoughDiamond Member

    I really enjoyed the backstory Michelle regarding the history of Ford and the development of the V8. IMO this beautiful piece of automotive history deserves nothing short of a restoration.

    Like 8
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      Thanks! I’ve read a couple of books on Henry Ford and learned that he detested the idea of larger motors. He had to be strenuously convinced to give up on a single engine offering. It was rather like the founder of Digital Equipment, Ken Olsen, saying in 1977 that “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”

      Like 4
  5. Terry

    I’d love to own one of these or a 32 Ford roadster pick up.

    Like 1
  6. gaspumpchas

    Legend has it that Clyde Barrow wrote a letter to henry ford singing the praises of the v8. Made great getaway cars, thats the only one he would steal! Somebody save this beauty. It will hit some big bucks I’m sure, plus you have mostly suspect bids. Good luck and happy motoring!

    Like 2
  7. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Rare care there…….

    Like 4
  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    If this came my way there is no doubt about where I would take it. There’s enough hot-rodded Deuces to last several lifetimes so this one should be put back the way Henry built it. You can still have a lot of fun with them in original livery. A change to a 2bbl definitely helps them run more smoothly as the big single tended to lean out the front and back cylinders; but I would keep the original stuff so I could change it right back. I might add that there are a lot of steel reproductions out there so if you’re inclined to want a street rod, go that direction; you’ll likely save a lot of money in the process…

    Like 6
  9. Kenn

    Gaspumpchas, how do you know they are: “..mostly suspect bids”? Because they’re too high considering the engine hasn’t been started? Which I consider odd ’cause every time I rebuilt an engine I also test ran it.

  10. Joe Haska

    Michelle ,I am not trying to be hard on you,but I think you need to research your comments, to more than to a couple of books you have read. Your comment on the 2 reasons for going from a flathead to an OHV ( article on a 40 Ford P/U ) I said that was about the crazyest thing I had ever heard. Now you say you have read a couple of books. I assume you are not very old and have never actually know anything about flatheads, from actual experience. My next birthday, I will be 80. My grandfather was a Ford Mechanic and drove nothing but 40 Fords, until he died. I never knew were he got all of them. My 1st Ford Flathead was a 34 Ford Coupe in 1963. My grandfather was still alive ,I took mim for a ride and he told me all the problems with 33 and 34’s. I wish I could remember all his comments. Of course he is gone now, but I still have the car (almost 58 years now). I have also had allot cars, many old Fords , many with flathears, stock and modified, all driven and I mean driven allot ,af few even raced. Your comments just don’t add up ,do your research or stick to things you actually have had experience with. Its like flying simulated IFR or real IFR ,a big distinction.

    Like 2

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