At the RM Sotheby’s auction at Amelia Island this coming March, someone will come away with a singularly rare, invaluable piece of Ford Motor Company history: a one-off 1932 Ford Model 18 Speedster designed by Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie and Edsel Ford himself.
The custom Ford Model 18 Speedster was the first of three unique Speedsters that would be specially designed and built at the behest of Henry Ford‘s son Edsel. It was built by members of Ford’s aircraft division, using the 1932 Ford Model 18 coupe as a base. Although it isn’t the original motor, a period-correct 221 cubic-inch flathead V8 lurks beneath the long bonnet, fed by a two-barrel Stromberg 81 carburetor, and putting out somewhere in the vicinity of 85 horsepower.
According to RM Sotheby’s, this unique Ford Model 18 Speedster was wrecked by its third owner and, for several decades, presumed scrapped. In actuality, it had somehow passed to an auto body repairman from Connecticut who replaced the damaged, hand-hammered alloy fenders with steel ones from a period Chevrolet, and owned it for some five decades without knowing of the car’s significance.
The car has since been restored with aluminum fenders meant to replicate the original pieces, and won the Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie Award for Design Excellence at the 2013 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Talk about coincidence.
The late Edsel Ford’s 1932 Ford Model 18 Speedster represents a singular opportunity for aficionados of Ford Motor Company history. Chances are slim that the opportunity to own such a piece would ever come along again, as the only other surviving Edsel Ford Speedster is owned by the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House – now a museum – in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.