Many vehicles built during the infancy of the automobile wore custom coachwork, where manufacturers and buyers relied on body-makers to build bodies to their desired specification. These bespoke bodies were built atop the manufacturer's rolling chassis, and many of these builders were craftsmen who previously built bodies for horse-drawn carriages and coaches.
Ford built their own vehicles and bodies, a process that allowed them to control quality, streamlined the build process, and keep prices extremely low. Ford vehicles were plentiful, and several received coachwork in the period. The reasons were many, such as buyers seeking unique designs or coachwork that would satisfy their particular needs, and the coachbuilt car would certainly have helped the social strivers seeking to differential themselves from the masses. In a similar vein, coachbuilders may have wanted to showcase their unique talents in hopes of landing lucrative contracts. Sometimes they were offered in limited series, as 'catalog customs,' by the original manufacturer.
The cost of coachbuilding was expensive, and could easily eclipse the cost of a fully-built 1932 Ford, often by four or five times that of a production car. Thus, only a small number of cars received this treatment, and most were bodied in Europe.
In Europe, demand was increasing, and to compete with General Motors' new acquisition of Opel, Ford opened a factory in Cologne, Germany to produce cars. The newly established Ford Köln produced 3,535 Ford Model 18s between June of 1932 and February of 1934. In comparison, Ford produced nearly 260,000 vehicles in the United States. Additionally, Ford offered bare chassis on which custom coachwork could be fitted, and 314 bare chassis were built at the Cologne plant.
The list of coachbuilt 1932 Fords includes work attributed to Alexis Kellner A.G. of Berlin (not to be confused with Kellner et Cie of Paris). Since Kellner A.G. had gone out of business in 1931 and its patents sold to the coachbuilder Drauz, the bodies may have been built by Carrossérie Kelsch S.A. of Levallois-Perret, another firm known to have specialized in all-steel bodies.
Beginning in 1929, Karosseriewerke Drauz AG developed an ongoing relationship with Ford of Germany, establishing branch offices in Cologne and Berlin to be able to produce bodies in quantity.
In the United States and Canada, the 1932 Ford products included the four-cylinder Model B and the new V-8 powered Model 18. Fords were being built in England in 1932, but the new V-8 model was not among them. Several British customers purchased the new Henry Ford Model 18 and had them shipped to Europe where they received custom coachwork. One such example was a drophead coupe body built by the Carlton Carriage Company of London, a company that specialized in dropheads during the 1930s.
Another example was bodied by the Farina family in Turin. Battista 'Pinin' Farina, the youngest of the family, had worked at his brother's shop, Stabilimenti Farina, but broke off on his own in 1928. Early work included a Lancia shown in 1930 and continuing with a one-off Cadillac V-16 for an Indian maharajah. Pinin Farina's talents were instantly recognizable and by 1932, his fame had stretched across the Atlantic. The Ford Motor Company commissioned a single car from the Italian coachbuilder as a styling study when they were considering options for the production of 1933 Fords. Beginning with a 1932 Ford Model 18 chassis, it was clothed by Pinin Farina using design cues of the earlier Lancia, with a sweeping beltline and well-tailored roof, yet keeping true to the lines and styling of the production Ford bodies of Dearborn. by Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2021
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1932 Ford Type 18 Special Production Figures
210,824 total vehicles produced by Ford in 1932 Total 1932 Ford Type 18 Special production: 0