Ford V8 Ushered In a New Era of Automotive History Even as the Great Depression Loomed

1932 Ford V8 8 photos
1934 Ford 40B1934 Ford 40B1934 Ford 40B1934 Ford 40B1932 Ford V81932 Ford V81932 Ford V8
December 2, 2022, will be the 95th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company's introduction of its second automobile – the Model A. It would replace the wildly successful Model T that enjoyed an eighteen-year run dating back to October 1908, with over 15 million sold.
Replacing the Model T was a bold move as it had become the symbol of the rise of the middle class and ushered in the United States age of modernization. In fact, the Model T was the most-sold automobile in history until 1972, when the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed it. Sales of the Model A did not disappoint, and by February of 1929, the company had recorded one million sales and 2 million by July 1929, despite the onset of the Great Depression.

As Americans grew more attached to traveling by car, they also spread their wings in terms of longer road trips on the ever-expanding network of rural roads and interstates. They, in turn, developed a need for more speed and the Model A's water-cooled L-head inline 3.3-liter 4-cylinder engine was not up to the task. Producing just 40 hp (30 kW / 41 ps), its top speed was just 65 mph (105 kp/h).

After selling nearly 5 million vehicles, Ford discontinued Model T production in March of 1932.

Ford would help quench the thirst consumers had for more power with the introduction of the 1932 Ford, which came in the form of three models, made between 1932 and 1934: the Model B, Model 18, and Model 40.

1932 Ford V8
The Model B came with an updated inline 4-cylinder engine and was produced from 1932 to 1934. The Model 18, most commonly known as the Ford V8, was produced in 1932 and was the first mass-production automobile with a V8 engine. The Model 40 was produced with the flathead V8 in 1933 and 1934.

The flathead 221 cu in (3.62 L) V8 was rated at 65 horsepower (48 kW; 66 ps) however in the Model 18, but output increased with improvements in the carburetor and ignition systems in the Model 40s.

The Model B would be discontinued because of the V8 option. Ford sold 298,647 V8-powered 18s in 1932 and would have sold more had they been able to keep up with demand in part because the V8 was just $10 more ($200-plus in today's money).

There was not much difference between the three models produced from 1932 to 1934 with the exception of the V8. All 1932 models came with black fenders, wire wheels, and a rear-mounted spare wheel, in the form of roadsters, coupes, and convertible sedans. Options were limited by the time period and were comprised of interior and exterior mirrors, single or twin side mounts, luggage rack, clock, and leather or Broadcloth interior material.
1932 Ford V8
The two-door Cabrio-coach, a flathead V8-engined B 400 body style, was a convertible coupe with fixed side window frames and is the rarest of the 1932 Fords, with only 842 of them ever produced.

In 1933, the models went from a wheelbase of 106 in (2,692 mm) to 112 in (2,845 mm) on a new cross-member frame. The fenders were redesigned with a curvier profile along with bowed bumpers. Dash instrumentation was improved and a passenger-side glove box was added.

All told, there were ten different body styles and all were available with the popular V8, including the Model B. Changes resulted in a 3% increase in weight and a 15% horsepower increase.

The 1934 model year saw subtle changes with a fatter grille, straight hood louvers, two handles on each side of the hood, smaller headlights, and a redesigned logo. Power increased to 85 hp (63 kW / 86 ps) on the flathead V8.
1934 Ford 40B
Photo: Car Museum
The 1934 Ford V8 was immortalized in the depression-era crime spree of Bonnie and Clyde, which saw it riddled with bullets from a police posse killing both in Louisiana.
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