by Paul Sweeney
The latest addition to the British Car Museum collection is a lovely 1937 Ford Model Y saloon (built 1932-1937).
The Model Y is the first Ford automobile specifically designed for markets outside the United States of America, replacing the Model A in Europe. It was in production in England, where it is sometimes remembered as the "Ford Eight",reflecting its fiscal horsepower rating, from 1932 until September 1937.
The car was also produced in France where it was known as the Ford 6 CV from 1932 to 1934, and in Germany as the Ford Köln from 1933 to 1936. Smaller numbers were assembled in Australia (where a coupé version was also produced), Japan, Latvia (branded as the Ford Junior) and in Spain (branded as the Ford Forito). Plans to build it in the U.S. were scrubbed when a cost accounting showed that it would only be slightly cheaper to build than the Ford Model B.
The car was powered by a 933 cc, 8 hp Ford Sidevalve engine. The little Ford was available in two and four-door versions. In June 1935 a reduced specification two-door model was the only closed-body car ever to sell in Britain for just £100, a price it held until July 1937.
The suspension was by the traditional Ford transverse leaf springs front and rear and the engine drove the rear wheels through a three-speed gearbox which, right from the start, featured synchromesh between the top two ratios. The maximum speed was just under 60 mph (95 km/h) and fuel consumption was 32 miles per imperial gallon (8.8 L/100 km; 27 mpg-US).
Even by the standards of the time, the UK-built Ford 8, like its major competitor the Austin 7, was found noteworthy for its "almost unbelievable lack of brakes."