Model AA and Model BB Ford Difference
Question: Hello Greg, I have just been introduced to your informative and well-crafted articles thanks to the internet sites. I am undertaking a retirement project (I am 70) to find a Ford truck as similar as possible to the first vehicle I drove, which was my dad’s Ford truck which I had to wait until age eight to drive. Before we bought it, it was used as a coal delivery truck during the Great Depression. We used it daily for hauling firewood and bagged grain to the local chopping mill. It had a hand hoist with a big crank and took a minute or so to raise the box up high and feel the load slide off.
We called it "The Old Red Truck" and it had dual rear wheels and tires and came with steel wheels all around. The vehicle was either an AA or BB Ford Truck, and I suspect the latter as it had a longer box than most of the AA photos I’ve seen. What is frustrating is that there is no real clear explanation that I have found as to the differences between the AA and BB models.
I suspect our truck was from 1931 or so as it was purchased during the depression, and the engine had more than four cylinders. It also had mechanical brakes and on the point of their unreliability, my brother and I received a short but clear lecture before any on-road driving. It also had the starter on the floor.
If you could give me some guidance on the differences between the AA and BB models it would help. Also, if you have suggestions for leads to such a vehicle in Western Canada, it is much appreciated. Thanks for your time and interest and I enjoy reading your columns. Sincerely, James G. McPherson, Creemore, Ontario, Canada.
Answer: James thanks for your letter and comments about my columns. As for your dad’s truck, it turns out to be at least a 1932 BB Ford dually, as 1932 was a big year for Ford and its Ford BB Trucks.
Specifically, in 1932 Ford introduced its first Flathead V8 which was especially popular and would be utilized through 1954. However, there were some big differences in the cars and trucks of that day, especially the AA and BB truck designations you question.
To explain, Ford replaced all of its Model A cars and model AA Trucks, which debuted in 1927, with the new B and BB models from 1932 to 1934s. The big trucks, meanwhile, always used the double letter nomenclature as opposed to the cars with the single letter. So, B and BB came about with the new Fords of 1932.
Here’s the twist: the 1932 Model B car came only with the four-cylinder engine, while the new and soon to be famous Flathead V8 came in what was called the Ford Model 18. I’m not sure why Ford did this, but they did and then in 1933 and 1934, the V8 car was called a Model 40. Bonnie and Clyde did their nasty deeds and then died via gunfire in a 1934 Flathead V8 Model 40, just as a side note.
Now, since the Model AA trucks were replaced by the new 1932 Model BB trucks, Ford changed things a bit by offering either the standard four-cylinder or the optional new Flathead V8 in the truck line, unlike the cars. The BB trucks had longer wheelbases of 131.5 or 157 in. than the previous AA trucks, along with stronger frames for heavy duty use. The BB transmissions were also beefed up, as were the wheels, springs, tires and axles to carry big loads. And, while the cars still rode on the standard wire wheels of the day, all Ford BB trucks received the reinforced steel wheels, which is the sure fire giveaway that your dad’s truck was at least a 1932 BB “dually” with those steel wheels all around and the Flathead V8 under the hood.
Many BB trucks were sold chassis and engine or chassis and cab. This allowed the many independent coachbuilders to add whatever dress was needed, from ambulance to fire truck to hearse. Notable again is that the Flathead V8 was always an option on the BB Trucks, even in the heavy duty longer wheelbase models.
As for locating one to buy or rebuild, keep checking the noted collector car and truck publications, specifically Truck Round-Up Magazine (sister to Auto Round-Up and Classic Car Round-Up) available either via mail, the internet or on the newsstands.
Good luck in your search, and I hope this all helped. Keep us informed if you buy one.