A utomotive historians dive into books to determine every facet of an automobile, especially when it was new. Without failure, one of those facts historians search for is production numbers. Usually, this is a relatively simple task, especially when it comes to Ford Motor Co., a company with a well-documented history. But it is not so for the popular 1932 model year.
This DeLuxe Model B Tudor has been owned by Eric Howard for 40 years. A 1959 Ford Research and Information Department production report shows 4,082 DeLuxe Model B Tudors were built in 1932. (Peter Winnewisser photo)
Consider the production figures for the 1932 Ford given in Ford Motor Co. records and contemporary books and articles. You would think that a simple thing like one year of production records should be the same wherever used. But they are not.
The author is not pointing fingers. There are many reasons why production figures vary. For example, does the figure given represent actual production off the assembly line? Does it include both the Model 18 (V-8) and the Model B (four-cylinder)? Is it a domestic production figure only, or does it include Canada? Is it a world production figure? Does it include the station wagons, which are usually listed by Ford under the commercial or light-delivery designation?
Clyde Miller owned this 1932 V-8 Convertible Sedan (B-400) when the photo was taken in 1988. Only 884 of these units were built, according to the 1959 Ford Research and Information Department production report. Note the chrome-plated windshield frame. (Peter Winnewisser photo)
Additionally, authors who quote a number don’t always explain what that number represents. For example, does the figure represent total production, or only those cars sold? Is it a calendar year figure or a model year total? In 1932, there were 12,936 Model A and AA Fords assembled in Ford factories. If the 1932 production figure is a yearly one, are the Model A and AA units included?
One example is E.D. Kennedy’s valuable book, “The Automobile Industry” (1941), which states that Ford “sold only 258,000 passenger cars in the United States” in 1932. We can presume that this figure includes both the Model 18 and the Model B. Does it include the Model A Fords sold that year?
It is interesting to note that the Ford Motor Co. itself lists different numbers, depending on which document is used. For example, the “Ford Motor Company World Production Report 1903 through 1955” lists 1932 passenger-car production as 287,285 units. Does that figure include the Model A Fords built in 1932? The station wagons?
A 1959 report from Ford’s Research and Information Department lists the total as 269,368 and 286,449, if the station wagons and chassis are included. These figures are specifically for the 1932 models.
An earlier “World Production Report 1903-1943” gives the total production figure for 1932 as 338,426. However, that includes Model A and AA units and Model BB units. The Model 18 unit production is listed as 191,084. But that does not agree with the 1959 listing of 192,261 units.
It should also be noted that production numbers quoted for individual ’32 models do not always agree. For example, take the best-selling Model 18 Standard Tudor. The 1959 report lists production as a combined 99,810 units for the Tudor, while a well-regarded contemporary publication lists the figure as 94,483. The DeLuxe three-window coupe in its four-cylinder version is credited with 970 units by Ford in 1959 against 968 in a current catalog.
All of this can get very confusing, so here’s a suggestion: when quoting production figures for the 1932 Ford passenger cars, indicate the source and any information available and exactly what the number includes. In the author’s view, the 1959 report is the most specific. It indicates that the numbers used are for the Model 18 and Model B and that the total of 286,449 units includes the station wagon and chassis for both the V-8 and the B. It also gives the total passenger-car figure (Model 18 and Model B) exclusive of the station wagons and chassis. Finally, it gives a breakdown for the individual models. The 1903-’55 report does not include a breakdown, nor does the 1903-1943 report.
Readers interested in the entire March 12, 1959, Ford Research and Information Department production report should consult the March-April 1982 issue of V8 Times published by the Early Ford V-8 Club. The Henry Ford Research Center can also be of help. Perhaps some readers have additional documentation regarding 1932 Ford production data and would be willing to share this information with the readers of Old Cars.