1932 Ford Model B Pick-Up, Greenwood, Sebastian County, AR
Significance: In the Fall of 1930, almost a year after the stockmarket crash, America was in the grip of the Great Depression. Unemployment was widespread, and as auto sales declined, some automobile companies started to cut back on production. As a leader in the low-price market, Ford Motor Company was not affected to the point of losing money, as some automakers were. Even though sales were down, it appeared to be headed for a $40,000,000 profit for that year. Improvements for the 1931 Model A, due to be introduced in January, were off the drawing board and well into the tooling stage. Ford designers and engineers already were starting to make plans for the 1932 model. The 1932 design, designated by engineering as Model IO, was to be a major face-lift of the 1931 Model A. It would have an improved four-cylinder engine, a new fuel system, a longer wheel base, and a heavier frame, but, in appearance, it resembled the Model A. By September 1931, engineering drawings for the 1932 design were complete, and contracts for new tools were placed with suppliers. Those parts which were carryover from the Model A were to retain the "A" prefix on the part number. But in October, it was decided that the new design would be called the Model B, necessitating the relabeling of all Model IO drawings and the carryover Model A drawings to the "B" prefix number. When this task was completed, the new Model B was ready for production. On December 1, the Ford Motor Company purchasing department was instructed to start procuring parts at the rate of 1,000 units per day. Within a week, the first Model B's were coming off the assembly line, and then, without warning, on December 7, Henry Ford brought everything to a halt and, after a conference with Edsel, announce that in addition to the four cylinder the company would design, develop, and mass-produce a new V-8 engine for the 1932 Ford. Henry Ford was convinced that by casting a one-piece V-8 block, his company could produce a V-8 engine economically enough to fit his customers' pocketbooks. As the Model B was being designed, engineers close to Henry Ford sensed that he was not satisfied with its development. Even though the Model A practically eclipsed the Model T, to him it was an interim design. The thought of the V-8 engine cast "en bloc" (one piece block) had been at the back of his mind for years. Henry Ford has considered a six, but Chevrolet had gone from a four to a six in 1929, and if Ford went from a four to a six it would be a follower, and not a leader. While Henry Ford's precise reasons for going to a V-8 are unrecorded aside from his desire to outdo the six-cylinder engines of Chevrolet and newcomer Plymouth it can be assumed there were other reasons behind his dramatic move. Automobiles were getting larger and heavier in response to the demand of a more sophisticated buying public. A V-8 engine would easily supply the extra power needed for the bigger vehicles and keep Ford Motor Company in a leadership position.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N930
Survey number: HAER AR-61