|A bold new grille
identifies this as a 1934 Ford. The Windsor, Ontario-based
manufacturer will sell 14,442 of Ford passenger cars throughout the
Dominion of Canada in 1934.
The Great Depression began in 1929 and seemed to have a monstrous hunger of its own. The economic downturn had taken an enormous toll on every sector of the world's economy. Especially hard hit were the automakers. Small ones simply collapsed and even the giants feared for their futures. Only Nash and GM were safe and that was because of their deep pockets.
Folks in charge at Ford of Canada had watched helplessly as sales slid from 41,399 units in 1929 to a paltry 16,565 units delivered in 1931. Sales were off another 5,000 units in 1932 when the tally reached only 11,447 units. It didn’t appear that things could possibly get worse but the final 1933 sales figure was only 9,177 Ford passenger car units delivered throughout the Dominion. Sales of seven imported Lincolns and ten British Fords did little to pump up the bottom line.
|The magnificent 1934 Lincoln found only seven homes in the Dominion this year.|
Bleak sales figures trickling into the company offices in Windsor, Ontario only served to underscore the horrors of daily life throughout the country. On the Prairies, dust storms so fierce that they blackened the skies for hours at a time, dumped tonnes of silt on everything in their paths. There were no crops; millions starved. There was no market for fish. From Cape Breton to Vancouver Island, tens of thousands of hungry, homeless men wandered the countryside in hopes of work. They looked until they were broken. In Newfoundland, unemployed men were rounded up and marched 16 kilometres to work and back and paid only six cents for the day under a government scheme that was much hated.
|This 1934 Ford Deluxe Fordor Sedan listed for $625 f.o.b. Windsor, Ontario. All Fords featured safety glass.|
Surprisingly there was much innovation by the automakers during these troubled times. The introduction of the V-8 engine in 1932 had been an important coup for Ford. It gave the company a significant edge on competitors who produced six-cylinder products. Ford wisely tested the waters by continuing to sell the four-cylinder Model B alongside the V-8 that year and they did the same in 1933 as well. The Model B became redundant in 1933 when Ford of Canada began to import the thoroughly modern little Model Y from its factory in Dagenham, England. This year, the domestically sourced four-banger was dropped, its place neatly filled with small, duty-free Fords from the UK.
|Ford introduced the Model Y for the European market in 1931. The little car with the 933-cc engine would find buyers in Canada, too.|
Changes to the domestically produced Ford envelope were very minor for 1934. Nonetheless, ad copy waxed enthusiastic about the Ford’s new lines. Champagne was broken out for each modification. Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration, considering the hard times, so it is sufficient to say that a glass was raised to the new Ford. Changes consisted primarily of fewer bars in the grille and the radiator shell was flattened somewhat. Headlight surrounds were flatter. Hubcaps carried painted V-8 emblems rather than chrome embossing. Hood louvres were straightened; they had been curved previously. Though one almost needed a magnifying glass to tell the difference, it didn’t stop advertising from bragging a little. “It was a great car in 1933. A still better car in 1934.”
|Salesmen were trained to steer “the woman motorist” toward the 1934 Ford V-8 Three-Window Coupe because of the car’s unusual grace and style.|
The classy engine-turned panels used on the dash were replaced with paint and wordsmiths drew attention to the new interiors, deeper seat cushions, stronger seat springs, new tufted upholstery choices and the clear-vision ventilation system. This clever system permitted increased air intake by use of a new window winder that moved the glass rearward, this allowing a draft to permeate the cabin. It was pointed out that fresh air could also be drawn from the cowl vent and that could be supplemented by opening up the windshield to let in more of a breeze.
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The virtues of the 2 844-millimetre (112-inch) wheelbased model were sung. “A longer wheelbase is not always more passenger room. The V-8 type engine takes less space, leaves more inside body room. It is not the length of the wheelbase that counts, but the available passenger space.” No item was too small to praise in the dark days of 1934; even something as mundane as the new garnish mouldings and the new cove headliner was front and centre in the headlines.
Mechanically the 3.6-litre (221-cubic inch) mill was fitted with a new air filter and better breathing resulted from installation of a dual carburetor and dual intake manifold. These changes meant that cold weather starting was much improved. Under the hood, all the ballyhoo that could be mustered centred on the increased efficiency and the higher gas mileage. Leaf springs and shock absorbers were tweaked for a more comfortable ride.
|1934 Ford Tudor Sedan tipped the scales at 1 232 kilos (2,717 pounds). The Deluxe version weighed nine kilos (20 pounds) more.|
Consumers throughout the Dominion could choose a Ford in any of fourteen different body styles in 1934. The less expensive models were designated as Standard and the dressier Fords carried the DeLuxe moniker. The DeLuxe models featured new swivel-type sun visors “adjustable to any angle,’ dome lights, floor carpets, an ashtray and a cigar lighter. Upholstery choices were fine Broadcloth or Mohair in the upscale Fords. Fender colours matched bodies on DeLuxe models and the wheels used harmonizing colours. Folks were invited to “ride in this new Ford V-8 for 1934 and see for yourself what it can do. You will find it the most completely satisfying car you have ever driven—regardless of price. And the most economical, too.”
The economy improved somewhat in 1934. The picture was particularly bright in the agricultural sector where farmers had significant new sales outlets for grain now that the Americans had lifted their 15-year ban on the consumption of alcohol with the repeal of the 33rd Amendment.
|The 1934 Ford DeLuxe Roadster V-8 weighed in at 1 116 kilos (2,461 pounds) and rode on a 2 844-millimetre (112-inch) wheelbase.|
Sales figures at Ford of Canada reflected that cautious optimism as they rebounded to 14,442 passenger cars delivered domestically in 1934. A total of nine Lincolns and 43 British Fords sold, too. Things were beginning to look a little better in Windsor. Ford of Canada Limited finished the year in the black. Factories in Windsor and assembly in plants throughout the Dominion all showed a profit for the first time since 1930. The net profit was a healthy $1,878,112.91 for the year and if they could have looked into their crystal balls, they would have been excited to learn that 1935 would be even better.
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Copyright James C. Mays 2006
All rights reserved.