In introducing the 1937 Ford lineup, the company was determined to regain the sales lead. This time. Ford, too, had a "New all-steel top [that] sweeps back in an unbroken line," though it wasn't -- and thanks to copyright laws, presumably couldn't be -- called a "turret." Styling was completely revised, a "Brilliant new design that strikes the modern note in streamlined beauty," Ford bragged. "A wide roomy car with a low center of gravity -- curves flowing fast from front to back and from side to side."
The year's lineup included a 1937 Ford delivery sedan.
Modernized in a number of respects, it sported a slanting two-piece "V-type windshield that opens in all closed body types," this in lieu of the flat single pane of earlier times. Almond-shaped headlights were neatly integrated into the front fender aprons. Chevrolet, in contrast, would employ free-standing lamps through 1940, and Plymouth wouldn't catch up until 1939.
The sharply vee'd grille was clearly copied from the sensational Lincoln Zephyr, introduced just a year earlier, and the hood was hinged at the rear, opening "alligator" style.
There were mechanical advances for 1937 as well. The steering ratio was lowered, reducing the amount of effort required -- though at the cost of some additional wheel-winding. Even the brakes were revised.
Henry Ford, approaching his 74th birthday by this time, and more stubborn than ever, insisted on "the safety of steel from pedal to wheel." In his mind, hydraulic brakes were simply out of the question. Instead, Ford offered its traditional mechanical binders, self-energizing this time: "... car momentum is used to help apply the brakes. Thorough tests show that about one-third less pedal pressure is required to stop the car."
There was a downside to the new brakes, controlled now by means of steel cables housed in flexible steel conduits. A couple of disadvantages, in fact: In the first place, the sound effects, squeaking and juddering, were unpleasant. And where weather conditions were severe, the cables sometimes tended to corrode -- which, of course, could lead to some dicey situations.
On the other hand, when properly maintained, the cable brakes were substantially more effective than the rod-controlled mechanicals with which the 1936 Ford had been equipped.
The 85-horsepower V-8 engine, a Ford exclusive in the low-priced field, had been improved in a number of respects. Water-pump capacity was increased by nearly one-third to 45 gallons per minute, and the pump was relocated to the upper front of the block where it could push the water through the jacketing instead of sucking it through. Main bearings were enlarged to 2.4 inches, and insert bearings were employed in lieu of the former poured-babbitt type.
Ford also claimed improvements in creature comforts for 1937: "Engineered and built throughout for the quiet you expect of a quality car. The newly designed springs are pressure lubricated for quiet operation. New methods of mounting body and engine, body insulation, new exhaust piping and muffler mounting, improvements in rear axle and drive shaft all contribute to a new standard of quiet. ... Comfort of the Center-Poise Ride is further increased by smoother action of the long-tapering springs. ... New instrument panel is smart and practical, with all gauges grouped for rapid reading. Starter button on instrument panel. Parking brake lever at left under instrument panel. Adjustable driver's seat rises as it slides."
With all these changes for 1937, Ford encouraged prospective buyers to "Examine it in detail -- and see how The Quality Car in the Low-Price Field is more than ever The Universal Car."
Seventeen distinct models were offered, all told, and Ford's practice of offering two trim levels was continued. The base series, which would become known as the Standard line commencing in 1938, consisted of a three-passenger coupe, Tudor and Fordor "flatback" sedans, and Tudor and Fordor Touring Sedans, the last two fitted with built-in trunks.
The DeLuxe series was comprised, in addition to these five models, of the new Club Coupe, a woody station wagon, and no less than five stylish open types: Cabriolet, Club Cabriolet, four-door Convertible Sedan, Phaeton, and a Roadster. The last-named, incidentally, would disappear after the 1937 season, and the Phaeton would exit a year later.
DeLuxe equipment included dual tail-lamps, dual wipers, walnut woodgraining on the window moldings and dash, chrome-plated grille and windshield frame, rear armrests, twin electric air horns, "banjo" steering wheel, locking glove-compartment door, and clock.
Closed models were trimmed in a choice of mohair or broadcloth, while convertible buyers could choose between Bedford cord and antique-finished leather. Leather was used in both the phaeton and the roadster, while rumble seats throughout the line were upholstered in imitation leather.
To learn more about the 1937 Ford design, continue on to the next page.
For more information on cars, see: