MotorCities National Heritage Area
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Story of the Week

By Robert Tate, Award-Winning Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of the Robert Tate Collection and The Henry Ford
Published 4.10.2024

Henry Ford with the 1932 V 8 engine The Henry Ford RESIZED 1Henry Ford with the 1932 V-8 engine (The Henry Ford)

Throughout automotive history, the name of Henry Ford (1863-1947) is recognized for manufacturing a low-priced vehicle for millions that “put America on wheels” while also establishing the $5 minimum daily wage that helped create the middle class.

In 1896, while working for the Detroit Electric Company, he built his first car. Later in 1913, he would perfect his first Ford assembly line at the Highland Park, Michigan plant.

1932 Ford sales catalog Robert Tate Collection RESIZED 2A 1932 Ford sales catalog (Robert Tate Collection)

This story, however, is about the 1932 Ford models that became very popular, despite the difficult economy during the Great Depression. This was also the year that Ford introduced its revolutionary new V-8 engine, which Americans thoroughly embraced with strong sales.

Fords popular 1932 Ford V 8 The Henry Ford CROPPED 3Ford's popular 1932 V-8 engine (The Henry Ford)

Henny Ford made automotive history on March 31,1932 when the introduced his company’s new V-8 engine. He also took an active role in the engine’s development. The engine could be purchased with all 14 body styles that available from Ford that year. They also were available in a variety of colors.

1932 Ford assembly The Henry Ford RESIZED 5A 1932 Ford assembly line (The Henry Ford)

The Deluxe Tudor model became one of Ford’s sales leaders in 1932. Another popular 1932 model was the standard Coupe, a five-window vehicle with a trunk only and light accessories that sold for $490. In addition, Ford offered the Model B, a stylized Model A in appearance with an improved four-cylinder engine which many Americans thoroughly enjoyed. 

According to automotive historians, Ford rushed the early assembly of their 1932 models, and many of the engines experienced piston and bearing failures, as well as overheating issues. 

1932 Ford V 8 model The Henry Ford CROPPED AND RESIZED 6A 1932 Ford V-8 model (The Henry Ford)

As part of the introduction of the 1932 models in March, Ford promoted the new line in 6,000 theaters around the country, resulting in more 50,000 purchase orders and millions visiting dealerships. Prices ranged from $430 dollars for the Model B two-passenger Roadster to $650 for the five-passenger Town Sedan.

1932 Ford V 8 model The Henry Ford CROPPED AND RESIZED 7A promotional photo of the 1932 Ford V-8 model (The Henry Ford)

The 1932 Fords had a 106-inch wheelbase and either a 50 HP 4-cylinder engine or the V-8 engine which produced 65 HP. From a styling standpoint, the models introduced a shovel-nosed grille design like the 1932 Packard Light Eight.

Automotive historians have said that Henry Ford had wanted to replace the venerable old Model T with an eight-cylinder car for a long time. The original plan had been to introduce some of these models as early as 1928, but they were delayed.

The 1932 Ford DeLuxe Roadster Robert Tate Collection CROPPED AND RESIZED 8The 1932 Ford De Luxe Roadster (Robert Tate Collection)

In conclusion, the 1932 Ford models made history with their great styling  and the introduction of the new V-8 engine that so many consumers appreciated. Today, these cars are loved by hot rod enthusiasts around the world.

Bibliography

Dammann, George H. “Illustrated History of Ford.” Crestline Publishing, 1970.

Anderson, Stephen K. “Expanding Imagination Since 1932.” Ford Registry, 2024.

Kimes, Beverly Rae, and Clark Jr., Henry Austin. “Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942.” Krause Publications, 1991.

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