1932 Ford V-8 Drophead Coupe by Carlton
- Extremely rare and attractive British custom coachwork
- Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance award-winner
- Beautifully and authentically restored for its owner of 30 years
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
- An iconic ’32 Ford that looks like a small Bentley!
While Fords were being built in England in 1932, the new V-8 model was not among them; it was being produced only in the United States and Canada. British customers who desired the latest and greatest Henry Ford engineering had to look across the pond for a chassis, and then would have coachwork produced by their own country’s fine craftsmen. This resulted in a handful of custom automobiles that combined the “Deuce’s” excellent performance with gorgeous European styling.
The car shown here was built at Ford’s Canadian factory with right-hand drive, as signified by its original chassis number. Its chassis was exported to England, where the well-proportioned and attractive drophead coupe body was built by the Carlton Carriage Company of London. Carlton was perhaps the builder of dropheads in England during the 1930s, specializing in very attractive examples of this style on a wide variety of chassis. In particular, they were famed for their work on Rolls-Royce and Bentley, and thus it is no surprise that this Ford wound up resembling a jewel-like “miniature” of one of Crewe’s finest!
The current owner notes that he acquired the car in 1986, from a retired United States Navy captain who had owned it since 1958, when he purchased it in England. “The 1932 V-8 Ford engine had some initial problems since it was the first year of production,” the owner notes. “This resulted in many of these engines being replaced with later models, and this car was no exception. We were able to source and install a correct ’32 engine. Many other parts in 1932 were special to that year, and finding them was a difficult and time-consuming process.”
Nonetheless, several years were spent in the authentic restoration, and all of the correct parts were found to make “the Carlton” as it had appeared in 1932, including new woodwork throughout. The body was finished in a rich, menacing black, with contrasting bright red interior and wire wheels shod, as was typical for a British car of the period, in blackwall tires.
Following completion of the restoration, the Ford was exhibited at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as part of a special class for pre-war Ford V-8s with custom coachwork, where it was awarded 2nd in Class. It returned to Pebble Beach in 2011, receiving another class award. Further, the owner was successful in having the Classic Car Club of America recognize the car as a Full Classic; it was subsequently judged at 96.75 points at the Annual Meeting in 2011.
Very few 1932 Fords were built with custom coachwork, and fewer still remain. “The Carlton” is certainly among the most attractive and most beautifully restored, with lines and a color scheme that evoke the best of Bentley and other sporting British machines of its era. It would be a wonderful addition to any collection of fine coachbuilt automobiles—just as it has been for the current owner for 30 years.