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Ford Model Y

Published: 28th Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Model Y

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What’s the Ford Model Y?

Seventy-five years ago Ford changed the face of family motoring in Europe by unveiling an 8-hp saloon car that combined ultra-modern styling with an unburstable 933cc four-cylinder engine. The prototypes went on show in February 1932, just five months after the project had been given the go ahead by Henry Ford in Detroit. And by August that same year the first Model Y Fords started rolling off the Dagenham production line. Not only did this modestly-priced car save Ford-Britain from bankruptcy, it was the start of a model line that lasted until 1959. In 1935 it became the first (and only) four-seated family saloon to sell for £100 after an adept price-cutting programme by Ford. And it was the very first car that I can remember riding in as a small boy in the late 1940s.

How practical?

Under its streamlined bodywork, the Ford Model Y represented little progress over the old Model T, with transverse leaf springing fore and aft. But that very mechanical simplicity means that it is very easy to work on. Spare are generally easily available and the exemplary Ford Y and C Model Register (which also caters for the Model Y’s big sister, the 1172cc Model C) has a well-organised spares service.


With a simple three-speed gearbox (no synchromesh on first), the Model Y is easy to drive, but performance of the standard saloon is scarcely electrifying, with a top speed of around 50 mph - emphasising the shortcomings of the crude suspension layout! However, it compensates for this with good reliability and a cheeky appearance that will bring back a lot of happy memories to many who rode in these cars as children.


Styled like a miniature V8 (the 1933-34 V8 actually took its looks from the little Model Y, which had appeared the previous year), this is one of the more practical small cars of the 1930s. Some 1500 Model Y and C cars are known to survive, and these cars were also built in Ford’s European, Australian and New Zealand plants. If you yearn for a tourer, these were produced by outside coachbuilders in small numbers and are correspondingly rare. Vans, too, can be costly. Prices have firmed up in recent years and you may pay anything up to £4000 or even more for an outstanding Model Y saloon. Restoration projects are even cheaper!

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