Original Henry Steel: 1932 Ford Model B

Henry Ford had a knack for knowing what customers wanted long before even they did.  Take for example the three most famous prewar Ford products.  Nearly all cars manufactured at the time that the first Model T rolled off the assembly line on October 1, 1908 were expensive luxury cars, and every attempt to produce an economy car had failed.  It took a lot of courage to assume that millions of Americans who had never been able to afford a car would want a Model T.  When he shut the assembly lines down for six months and spent millions retooling for the Ford Model A, the wait and sacrifice were worth it.  The Model A was a bases loaded home run.  Finally, when the Model A had run its course, Ford’s new development was the Flathead Ford V-8 wrapped in a nearly all new, more modern car initially called the Model 18.  This 1932 Ford five window coupe, found in Cannonsberg, Pennsylvania, is a rolling example of just how well Ford met the needs and desires of automobile buyers in the US.  For sale on eBay, with a current bid of $30,100 that has not yet hit the reserve, this nearly all original coupe is obviously a desirable automobile even today.

When Ford came out with the 1932 Ford, everyone was amazed that he could build a V-8 engine economically enough to place it in an economy car.  Before this, V-8s had only been in more expensive cars.  Chevrolet had tried to make a V-8 work with their Series D, which was produced from 1917-1918, and failed.  However, it would be unfair to call the Series D an economy car, as it was more upscale than Chevy’s other offerings.  At any rate, Ford determined that he wanted a V-8 in his car for a few reasons.  First, with Chevrolet having an inline six cylinder, he felt that coming out with an inline six would make Ford an industry follower instead of being the industry leader.  Second, Henry Ford hated inline six cylinder engines because of past experiences working with them and his belief that they broke crankshafts more often.

When the V-8 came out, there were a ton of teething problems.  People who were obviously not engineers spread rumors that the V-8 pistons would, aided by gravity, slowly wear the bores into egg shapes and the engines would fail prematurely.  That was, of course, not a problem.  The problems came from Ford’s lack of long term development before implementation.  Ford had insisted that the block be cast in a single unit, whereas previous engine blocks on V-8s in production were not built this way.  Ford forced his engineers to find a way, and they did.  Once that problem was solved, a lot of the other parts of the cars were not ready for prime time, and there were constant upgrades to the Flathead in 1932 to remedy the ills that popped up both in production and with customers doing the product testing.

Hedging his bet, Ford also produced a four cylinder version of the new car, called the Model B.  With an engine that was an evolutional step forward from the one in the Model A, these four cylinder 1932 Fords pleased dealers who were leery of the V-8 and all of its issues, and it made Ford customers happy, who, like Henry himself, were resistant to change.  The Model B engine, with its improvements in balancing and lubrication over the Model A’s mill, produced 50 horsepower from 201 cubic inches.  The four lasted in production until 1934, when the V-8 was proven to be the right choice for consumers.  Interestingly, Model A owners who like to drive their cars often covet Model B Ford engines for their reliability and power.  Many swaps have been made as cars with these engines are replaced by hot rodders and sold to Model A enthusiasts.

The car you see in these pictures is a very original 1932 Ford five window coupe powered by the Model B engine discussed above.  These, and their three window brothers, are exceptionally rare to find in unrestored condition.  They formed the backbone of the postwar hot rodding movement due to their light weight and beautiful lines, and many a “deuce coupe” fell under the heat of the torch for chopping and channeling.  So many have been hot rodded that the whole supply and demand thing has raised prices to a point that reproduction steel five window coupe bodies can now be had from a company called United Pacific.  While the price for one of their bodies is $22,999, you can see from the price of this one on eBay that this figure may not be too far out of line.

It would be such a shame to hot rod this survivor car, especially when it could be reproduced for around the same money as it will likely bring on eBay.  You can buy reproduction 1932 Ford frame rails as well, and the rest of the build would depend on what direction you would want to go in making a hot rod.  Some people like cars that are in this condition with a few add-ons to boost power, such as what you see in The Race Of Gentlemen, and that would be OK.  However, to chop and channel this one would be a travesty, sort of like killing a manatee to see what it tastes like.  It is better to leave this one alone, so that all of the features on the car can be documented, and then eventually treat it to a full restoration after the fun of driving it wore off.  I will catch Hell for this in the comments, but not every car needs to be hot rodded.

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Comments

  1. Dairyman

    Whoever hotrods this car should be tarred & feathered and subsequently be run out of town!
    Nice find!

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      He should also be burned at the stake and then shot….

      • Jon

        Well then…. why don’t you buy it so someone else won’t mess with it … really…??

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        I’m more in hopes that someone else takes the project on. I’ve already got three projects that would have otherwise been victims of the torch. Besides this one is a fair distance away from the Chinook belt.

    • Jerry Brentnell

      in this day and edge if you want to build a hotrod why not start with a new metal body instead of pouring money in this as all you want is the body and fenders its to expensive to hotrod it anyways and besides I”d rather have a 32 plymouth coupe way better car than fords or chevs any day!

    • Jon

      You guys really need to get off your restoration high horse. To each his own. Nuff said.

    • jerry guill

      i like stock. but these days. they are just not fast enough for the traffic.thats why i went to hotrods with modern running gear.

  2. txchief

    If you’ve not tried one, manatees are absolutely delicious!

    • Pat

      Just like humans, especially with ketchup. Or gravy. Wrapped in bacon.

  3. Joe Haska

    Jeff, A very nice write up on the car and the history behind the 32 Ford, its nice to read correct information, other than hear-say and folk lore. The only thing I don’t agree with is that it would be a travesty to make it a Hot Rod. I don’t believe that, but let me explain and you also mentioned it. I would build it as a tribute to Hot Rods of the 40’s and 50’s, not what is considered a high end build for the awards, such as The AMBR or the Riddler, also to cut or torch the body or frame, in any way,such as chopping, sectioning, channeling, Z-ing the frame, taking the fenders off, would be almost sac-religious. But, I think a period perfect tribute to early Hot Rods is, and can be as nice as, a 100 point restoration. It is just saving a different point in the history of the 32 Ford.
    The price is interesting as you pointed out a repro would be about the same money.

  4. Tort Member

    A 32 Ford five window coupe is what I think of when I think of a classic hot rod.
    Saying that I agree with Dairyman, if it’s lasted this long in its original state it would be a crime to hot rod it. There’s fiberglass for that.

  5. Rodney

    Totally agree Jeff. A chopped and channeled manatee is not not the way to go.
    A light searing at high temp with a rosemary lemon butter sauce. Perfect!
    Also, anyone laying a torch to this is entitled to the same light searing at high temp. You may, of course, substitute the rosemary lemon butter sauce with a 30 weight of your choice…

    • Rodney

      …delete extra “not”.

  6. EHide Behind

    Am an old rodder and once had one of those sacreligious chopped and channeled 283 powered hot rods, but i agree with most that this one should go into restoration mode.
    When younger we did not have the luxury of just buying a magazine to order, as we do today, a complete rolling chassis and metal or glass replacements.
    We can buy new completely built flatties with over 200 hp.
    The original mills did not last long so instead of buying or rebuilding stock we ripped Olds, Caddies, Chryslers, Packards, or damn near any newer big cube V8s as they were dime a dozen.
    Still a man could keep this rig looking as if it just came out of Ford plant but have up to date running gear and be a tribute to original builders and men who drove them.
    It was not just kids who prodded and circle tracker those old irons, many a man fresh home from WE II or Korea came home without the bread to buy new, so they bought and upgraded oldies.
    TETO!
    Let’s not forget it was those independent minded men, racers, who made Detroit wake up and build fast cars for common man.

  7. Jeff

    Write up was spot on! Though a sentence too long…oops!

    Reread it & found it to be just correct, in every aspect.

    • Rodney

      …the typo was in my comment. Your write up was perfect.

  8. Rick Gaskill

    It’s almost impossible to find one not hot rodded. I was surprised to see that when 4 cylinders are restored they have more value than most hot rods. The bids on this already exceed the price some hot rods sell for. Bids are also within $20,000 of the value of a car with a good restoration. It would be unlikely a return on investment could be expected no matter which way the successful bidder decided to go.

  9. tom

    Bonnie Parker loved her ’32.

    • Fred w.

      Notice the big “V-8” emblem on Bonnie’s. No four banger for her!

    • Rob

      Clyde Barlow was such a fan of the V8 he wrote Henry Ford a letter singing the praises of it. He supposedly made it a point to only steal Ford’s with V8s.

      • glen

        How nice of him.

  10. lee packer

    Were those 32s They looked smaller

    • Loco Mikado

      I wouldn’t question her on that.

  11. Bellvadeer

    Nice to see an original 32. But in all reality, it will eventually be chopped and hot rodded. That’s the odds. But we can dream that’ll be restored original.

  12. Lawyer George

    Yikes! I am slain.

  13. geomechs geomechs Member

    I do admit that a Deuce coupe is an ideal base for a hot rod. But only for one that is NOT complete. I frown upon anything that is as complete as this being turned into something that strays away from the original artifact. That said, I read an article about a guy buying a property that had long been neglected. He was cleaning out a garage that was completely overgrown and found a coupe that had been completely dismantled and abandoned. Further investigation showed that it was a Deuce B, just like this one. The guy wasn’t all that much of a car nut but he decided to take the project on. By the time he was done, he was a bonified gearhead. Did a great job.

    • Bmac Bmac Member

      I agree, when there this complete it’s hard for me to even think about cutting a car that has lasted this long. As I’ve said before there are a lot of alternatives to having hot rod without tearing up an old girl. Just my thoughts.

  14. Del

    Just restore it to like new

  15. JohnD

    It’s all there and probably would be an “easy” restoration for those with the know-how. My opinion: restore to as new condition, don’t chop it up.

  16. Rex Member

    Or, make it a driver with original parts, and drive it.

  17. SinkTip

    I don’t understand why so many people are obsessed with the idea of either/or (restore or rod). I am 100% of the opinion that this should be preserved in driving condition. There are just so few of these survivors left. In fine furniture or other collectible markets, items that have been refinished often lose value over an original, unrestored item. If this one was restored or rodded, it would be “just another 32 5-window”. This one is special just by virtue of never having been messed with.

  18. Pugsy

    I believe whomever buys it should do what he/she sees fit.

  19. stillrunners LAWRENCE Member

    Soooo a original restored V/8 you posted a day or week back was bashed at the asking price….do you see where this banger is going…..price wise ?

  20. Tim W

    How about putting in a chromed out SBC , chopping the top, bobbing the fenders, and painting it a cross between pi$$ yellow and puke green, then go look for a 55 Chevy to race? Just sayin….

    • Dairyman

      Ok Tim W is asking for tar & feathers…

  21. Merrill

    Love those “Port-A-Walls” and recaps!

  22. Nick Member

    With reserve not met, it makes me wonder if the seller is having friend bid it into get it to reserve.

    Like 1
  23. K. carson

    If mine I would make it a safe driver, New top. New factory correct interior, new glass, tires, etc and clean it up and enjoy.

  24. Karl

    I agree with most of you and that is the reason I cannot ever buy a car as nice as this it is beautiful and for that reason I won’t ever buy a car like this because I would have it chopped and there would be a blown LS between the frame rails! NO NO NO! I will build a replica!

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