EXPANDED AND REVISED – The 1932 Ford is one of America’s most beloved cars. Using rare facts and original factory photos, here we take a detailed look at the special car known as the Deuce.
Editor’s note — It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the 1932 Ford here at Mac’s Motor City Garage. Hey, who isn’t? Along with the 1957 Chevy and the 1965 Mustang, the Deuce is one of America’s most beloved cars. This feature originally appeared in August 2012, and with more facts and photos available, it’s time for an update. Also, you can find more stories about the 1932 Ford here and here.
The 1932 Ford, known to posterity as the Deuce, is so frequently hot-rodded and reproduced that original and restored examples are relatively rare. In the interest of history (and just to be different) this feature will focus entirely on stock production vehicles. In the slide show gallery below, you’ll find a number of original factory photos, as well as some restored cars that were photographed at the 2012 EyesOn Design car show at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. The show that year included a special exhibit celebrating the 80th anniversary of the 1932 Ford, and since the Deuce was one of Edsel Ford’s most memorable creations, it made a fitting tribute.
While the ’32 Ford is forever associated with the famed flathead V8 engine introduced the same year, roughly a third of the approximately 323,000 passenger units produced in 1932 were four-cylinder Model B vehicles. (The Model B engine was a refined, upgraded version of the venerable Model A four.) The V8 carried the Model 18 designation. However, all the various body styles carry a B prefix in their identification regardless of the engine type; for example, B-40 for Roadster and B-520 for the Deluxe Coupe (aka three-window; body by Murray.)
The chassis number was stamped on the left frame rail in three locations, while the engine number, which also served as the legal serial number in most jurisdictions, was stamped on the transmission bell housing. In the photos below, you’ll see Henry Ford and W.R. Campbell, head of Ford’s Canadian operations, ceremonially hand-stamping the first units.
Although the Deuce is held in high regard today, in 1932 it was a bit of a lemon, at least by today’s consumer standards. The brand new V8 engine was fraught with development problems throughout the model year, including overheating and crankshaft failures. Also, the chassis was insufficiently rigid and prone to flexing and cracking, which in turn produced fracturing and tearing of the body sheet metal. A number of factory dealer bulletins addressed these problems. And in production, the center crossmember was upgraded several times while the frame rails were reinforced at the rear kickup using multiple methods. For 1933, the frame was completely redesigned with a robust X-type crossmember.
The ’32 is that rare thing among early Fords, a one-year model. Unlike the earlier T and A and in contrast to the later ’33 to ’48 V8 models, the Deuce pretty much stands alone. There’s considerable parts interchangeability with other years, naturally, but the bodies, frame, and many other components are unique to ’32. And as early Ford enthusiasts know, Deuce parts sell for 50 to 100 percent more than comparable pieces for other years, and for no other reason than they are Deuce parts.
And Deuce guys pay these prices. The ’32 Ford is just special that way. It has that hold on people. In the lead photograph above of the DeLuxe Coupe in the forest, the young lady only assumes the young man is carving her initials in the tree. More likely, he’s recording his total devotion to the cherry three-window. More photos below.
Note: Lives have been spent and volumes have been recorded exploring the history and lore of the 1932 Ford. If you’d like to learn more about the Deuce, these two books are a great start:
The Early Ford V-8 as Henry Built It by Edward P. Francis and George De Angelis, Motor Cities Publishing Co;, ISBN 0-911383-03-4; $41.95
The 1932 Ford Book: A Production Chronicle and Restoration Guide by David G. Roher, The Early Ford V8 Club of America; ISBN 978-0-615-26201-7; earlyfordv8.org; two volumes; $84.95