Classifieds Hero: 1934 Ford Model Y Alpine Tourer

This Model Y from the AutoClassics classifieds offers 1930s ‘everyman motoring’ packaged in exceptionally rare drop-top coachwork. Here’s all you need to know…

Currently one of the more modestly priced offerings within the AutoClassics classifieds, this Ford Model Y Alpine Tourer is a far more unusual vehicle than most would guess. Ford never officially produced the ‘Y’ – the cheapest true four-seat saloon on the market in-period – in open-top specification, which means this drop-top with bodywork by Arrow Coachworks of West London is a rare beast indeed.

Powered by an 800cc sidevalve motor and three-speed gearbox with synchromesh on the top two ratios, the Ford wears the deep V-shaped radiator grille characteristic of all Ys built after October 1933 as the manufacturer worked to streamline the car’s styling.

These ‘long-rad’ Model Ys had six louvres on each bonnet side, art deco door handles and centrally located dashboard gauges. The features not only improved the car’s appearance; they also reduced manufacturing costs to the point where the purchase price could be dropped to a mere £100.

This particular Model Y looks handsome in gleaming maroon paintwork, complemented by a black double-duck hood that fits neatly over the Arrow Coachworks body. Being able to drive this Model Y with its hood completely dropped is what specifically defines it as an Alpine Tourer, as well as making it incredibly rare.

Ford’s designers had been concerned that the doors on a Y could fly open while out motoring, thanks to the model being endowed with a ladder-type chassis. The factories therefore produced only full-body Model Ys, relying on the enclosed structure having sufficient rigidity to avoid problems.

However, some customers were unsatisfied with this arrangement, as there was notable demand for open-top vehicles. It made sense to many dealers to provide the low-priced Model Y in drop-top specification, and consequently several coachbuilders were commissioned to fulfil customer expectation. Arrow Coachworks was one such company, and this very Alpine Tourer was one of a small batch manufactured shortly before the coachbuilder closed down.

Having passed from owner to owner during its early years, this example arrived at Burts Motors Ford dealer in Swanage in 1954. It was resident there for 44 years, before benefitting from a full restoration and conversion to 12v electronics via another Ford dealer in Shaftesbury.

The car comes with its original buff logbook, current V5 and catalogued correspondence, as well as articles by the Ford Y & C Model Register and Classic Cars magazine, both of which further detail this particular Model Y’s rarity. Special features on the car itself include art deco sidelights, cream dashboard, folding windscreen, side screens, original starting handle and the Henry Ford signature on the rear panel. It’s a highly attractive example of a humble 8hp car that took the British market by storm in the early 1930s.

Of the total 175,000 Model Ys produced between 1932-1937, approximately 1250 are known to survive. Of these, this 1934 Alpine Tourer is thought to be the only remaining Model Y built by Arrow Coachworks, making it an incredibly rare find.

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