The 1931 Ford Roadster was part of Ford's Model A years which spanned 1927 through 1931. The Model A's followed the highly successful Model T line. The Ford Motor Company had grown fast and by 1931 there were some 32 assembly factories spread across the U.S. The year 1931 was also significant in as much as the country was entering the Great Depression. The 1931 Model A's in general were good sellers for Ford and the Ford Roadsters were a good part of that.
The common definition of a Roadster is a two or three passenger automobile without a fixed top. Another definition is a two seat car without a fixed top (convertible or retractable) with an emphasis on sporty handling. The Roadster was in many ways a sports car. Roadster styles were available on a range of automobiles both higher and lower priced.
The Ford Motor Company sold about 2 million by 1929 and 3 million by 1930. By 1932, Models A's of all styles hit a sales figure of 4.8 million vehicles. Still, by 1930 both Chevrolet and Plymouth were outselling Ford. Ford held a very dominant position with it's Model T's along with it's mass production procedures. By the middle of the 1920's however General Motors caught up with Ford's assembly advantages and became stiff competition. This fact helped spur the new design of the Model A, which as many people knew about Henry Ford, was not real easy. Ford had a reputation for the liking the status quo and as a result some of his competitors were offering many more choices for buyers. As a result of competition, Henry Ford, with urging from his subordinates, offered Deluxe Roadsters whose extra sporty appeal was all over Ford Motor advertising campaigns. In fact, Ford Motor Company launched an advertising campaign targeted to women with a ad headline stating "I've always longed to drive a roadster". The ad went on to claim that deep down every woman really wanted to drive a stylish car like the Ford Roadster. Ford states in the ad that "the dream can now come true". Surely, in the economic environment of 1930-31, an appeal to emotion was a needed selling tool.
Ford Roadsters in 1931 had a price tag of anywhere from $400 to $1,200. The 1931 Model A was considered quite affordable, but if you had the money, the top of the line was there to be had at about three times the lowest price Roadster. The Deluxe Roadster was touted as having leather seats, head lamps and cowl lights, door handles made of Rustless Steel, a folding windshield made of Triplex safety glass and for the truly sporty looking automobile, a rumble seat in the rear for added passengers.
Ford advertising for the 1931 Model A Deluxe Roadster also offered steel spoked wheels and a range of colors to choose from. Ford's ads spoke of the vehicle as being a "dashing sports car". If you look at old ads for the Ford Roadster of the 1931 model year, you can readily see that the emphasis was on "something different". This was necessary to push during an economic depression and because of growing competition that started years before the great depression even arrived.
In 1932 Henry Ford was pushed to redesign the 1931 Roadster. This was the start of the Model B. The Ford Model B had an improved four cylinder engine. At the same time, and uncharacteristic of Ford Motor Company, they came out with the Model 18 which was a Model B with an eight cylinder engine. It was also the lowest priced V-8 on the market at it's time.
The Ford Roadster shown in this article has been beautifully restored. The color combinations of the tan roof and seat go great with the deep green. Sales prices for restored Model A's obviously vary. Modifications make a big difference. Just a sampling of Model A's being offered for sale as of this date....1929 Model Roadster priced at $19,000...1929 Ford Model A at $24,000...a hot rod 1931 Roadster at $28,000....1931 Ford Model A at $31,000 and a 1931 Ford Model A Roadster at $33,000. Other Model A Roadster street rods are in the mid $30,000 range.
(Photos are from author's private collection)