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1932 Ford Models B and 18

Production Problems with the 1932 Ford Model B and Model 18

Not everything went smoothly: there were production problems with the 1932 Ford Model B and Model 18. According to contemporary reports, 5.5 million people turned out to see the new Fords upon introduction, and within days the firm claimed 200,000 orders.

The question was, could Henry Ford meet the demand? Perhaps the biggest problem faced by the buying public was the fact that there just wasn't much money around. People were either unwilling or unable to answer Henry's call as they had in 1928 and 1929. Important though this fact was, it only served to disguise the real problem: Ford just could not deliver.

1932 Ford Model 18 station wagon
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Only 568 of the jaunty V-8 roadster version of the 1932 Ford Model 18 station wagon sold. But the 1932 DeLuxe Ford coupe attracted 21,175 buyers.

Thirteen million people saw the car over the first weekend, but many of the 1000 or so cars gracing dealership showrooms were to stay where they were, for dealers were uncertain when replacements would arrive. In addition, it's doubtful they were aware of the problems that would soon follow.

The people who had no trouble obtaining a new Ford were those with clout. Actor Wallace Beery took delivery of two DeLuxe Tudors and one station wagon, while Buster Keaton and Louis B. Mayer both became proud V-8 owners.

Ford obviously didn't foresee the production problems that were to delay the delivery of his new V-8 and thereby allow the other manufacturers, notably Chevrolet, to get almost a five-month lead on him for the 1932 model year. Nor did Henry anticipate the unreliability of the car he had just spent millions developing, and he certainly didn't understand the fact that although he was prepared to risk all to stimulate the economy, it wouldn't be enough in the depths of the Depression. During 1932 Ford lost almost $75 million.

Nearly all of the first 2000 V-8 motors needed to have their camshafts, pushrods, valves, valve guides, and front cover changed. While the next 2000 or so would need at least a new front cover, even then none of the first 4250 cars could be sold; instead, they were to be used as demonstrators.

Many running changes occurred both before and after production began. Early Model Bs had a black-painted dash with only choke and throttle control knobs. The starter button changed position several times and at one point was a T-handled pull-rod. When the V-8 was introduced, it had an engine-turned panel with the throttle on the left, choke in the center, and a switch for the dash light on the right.

By April, the Model B had thorn brown, rather than black, panels with the throttle on the left and the choke on the right. No dash light would be provided until June, a month after the damascened panel was also made standard for all models. The starter button for all American cars was now on the floor between the clutch and brake, and many other minor changes were also seen.

To learn more about the response to the 1932 Ford Model B and Model 18, continue on to the next page.

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