The successful Model A Ford came to the end of its life at the end of 1931. Ford replaced it with a completely new vehicle; in the USA, this was 1932 Ford V-8. A smaller-engined car, the Model B, was launched at the same time. To keep costs low, Model B was built with as few technical changes as possible to the V-8. Other than the engine, and badging on the headlamp support bar (later the grille) and hub caps, it was virtually indistinguishable from the V-8. The aim of the Model B was to be a price leader, and as it offered more than the popular Model A, this should have been a winner. In fact, the new and only slightly more expensive V-8 stole the show. While the V-8 was developed from scratch, the B just had an improved four-cylinder Model A engine of 201 cu in (3.29 litres) displacement producing 50 horsepower.
The B was soon discontinued in the USA because buyers disliked four-cylinder models in general, and because of the huge success of the V-8, not for being an inferior car. In fact, it persisted a little longer in Europe, where in many countries the tax system favoured smaller-displacement engines.
The Model B was built in England from 1932, in two versions: the Model B was the 24 HP version, with its 3.29-litre engine, but the BF in our Snapshot was the 14.9 HP, with 2.04 litres. The B and BF were originally similar to the 1932 US Ford Model B, but when Ford in the US replaced their Model B with the modernised 1933 Model 40, the British Dagenham plant continued the Model B body shell with the four-cylinder 14.9 and 24 HP engine. The two- and four-door saloons were named Tudor and Fordor respectively, following the American Ford custom. Later the more British sounding terms Single- and Double-entrance Saloon were used, but advertisements in mid-1933 in The Autocar still used Tudor and Fordor.
The Models B and BF were made elsewhere in Europe, too. A heavily modified version of the 1934 Ford Model B was also produced by GAZ in Gorky as the M1 model. Available only to high-ranking officials, the military, and various institutions, it served as the basis for the BA-20 military vehicle. In Germany a four-cylinder variant of the Model B with a more streamlined back was known as the Rheinland.
Image courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive: www.richardrobertsarchive.org.uk