The first Ford Model B appeared in 1904 – one of the company’s earliest products. The second coming of the Model B was in 1932, when Ford produced and sold around 118,000 of these typical Bonnie-and-Clydemobiles, developed from the Model A.
The lesson of lingering with the Model T for too long – and relying for success on a single car – had finally been learned by Henry Ford.
The Model B made history by being the first to run alongside a concurrent model – the visually identical Model 18 (aka Ford V8) that differed only in that its engine was the awesome V8 destined to serve the company (and its customers) so well over the years ahead – though not before initial teething troubles were ironed out. But – despite relying totally on his trusty four-cylinder motor for decades – Henry Ford had become obsessed with his new engine and the Model 18 V8 was potentially so superior to its sibling (selling 224,000 in its launch year) that the four-cylinder Model B was phased out by 1934 (when the V8 was redesignated Model 40A).
In the meantime, a mighty impressive selection included 18 different models, each with the option of a four- or eight-cylinder engine, making a total of 36 tempting choices for the buyer. The full range included two basic roadsters, three basic coupes, convertible sedan, cabriolet, Tudor sedan (two doors, get it?), Fordor sedan (you got it, four doors), DeLuxe roadster, DeLuxe coupe, DeLuxe phaeton, Victoria coupe, DeLuxe Tudor sedan, DeLuxe Fordor sedan and station wagon.
This serves as a reminder that Ford’s ‘one model’ policy actually concealed a wealth of choice for car buyers. The number produced and availability of spares makes the B/18 an attractive option for restorers, and a large number are still enjoyed by weekend drivers.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1932 (until 1934)
3.3 I (201 cid) Straight Four (B); 3.6 I (221 cid) Flathead V8 (Model 18)
The Model 18 could reach 80 mph (129 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
From the 1940s the Model B/18 became the most popular vehicle in a fashion that swept through America’s testosterone-charged young men like wildfire – hot rodding – and the one customizers coveted above all others was the stylish ‘Deuce coupe’.