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  • Jason Chandler

The Iconic 1932 Ford

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

Probably one of the most iconic hot rods of all time, one would be hard to argue that the '32 Ford is the original hot rod. Ford produced three cars between 1932 and 1934: the Model B, the Model 18, and the Model 40. These succeeded the Model A, a model that Edsel Ford had a hard time convincing his father, Henery Ford, to produce. The Model B had an updated four cylinder and was available from 1932 to 1934. The V8 was available in the Model 18 in 1932, and in the Model 40 in 1933 & 1934. The 18 was the first Ford fitted with the flathead V‑8. The company also replaced the Model AA truck with the Model BB, available with either the four- or eight-cylinder engine.


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 banger.

Eliminator is in fact nearly as famous as its owner, having been featured on two of ZZ Top’s album covers, appeared in a handful of the band’s music videos, toured the country alongside Gibbons, along with at least one clone said to have been commissioned by Gibbons just for appearance reasons, and appeared in pretty much every hot rod, street rod and custom magazine on the planet, not to mention dozens of TV shows, movies, and automotive productions over the year. Eliminator is also credited with inspiring two of ZZ Top’s albums, one of the same name as the car, Eliminator, which came out in 1983, and the follow-up album Afterburner, which was released in 1985.


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, such as 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 and four-door sedans, four-door "woodie" station wagon, two-door convertible sedan, panel and sedan deliveries, five-window coupe, a sport coupe (stationary softtop), the coveted 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. One of the more well known and popular models was the two-door Victoria, which was largely designed by Edsel Ford. It was a smaller version of the Lincoln Victoria coupe, built on the Lincoln K-series chassis with a V8 engine; by 1933 Lincoln no longer used a V8 and only offered the V12, with the V8 now exclusive to Ford branded vehicles.


Prices ranged from $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.

Bonny and Clydes 1932 Ford V-8 riddled with bullet holes after the ambush. Picture taken by the FBI on May 23, 1934.

The B was discontinued because buyers disliked four-cylinder models in general, and because of the huge success of the V8, 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 V8, is a highly collectible car and people will pay thousands of dollars to restore one to original specification, which is ironic, as they were once cheap "throwaway" cars popular with hot rodders who would tear them apart and use them as the basis for a "build", which is partly why it is so hard to find an unaltered specimen today. But really, who needs original? We're not running any museums here.


All 1932 Fords—V8-8s and Model Bs—came with black fenders, wire wheels, and a rear-mounted spare wheel (side mounted on cars equipped with a tail gate). Options included single or twin sidemounts, luggage rack, clock, interior and exterior mirrors, and choice of leather or Broadcloth (closed cars) interior material.

1934 Model 40 Special Speedster is an example of the elegance and artistry of Edsel Ford's impact on design and the style revolution of the 1930s.

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