Deluxe models, like the 1937 Ford DeLuxe convertible
sedan, offered extra features for a reasonable price.
On December 22, 1937, Edsel Ford announced the appointment of John R. "Jack" Davis as general sales manager, replacing the retiring William Cowling. Evidently the change was a welcome one as far as the dealers were concerned, for while Cowling was an excellent public relations man, Jack Davis was a "salesman's salesman."
Aware that a surfeit of used cars crowded the lot of almost every automobile dealer in the country, not just those holding the Ford franchise, Davis approached Packard's Alvan Macauley, serving at that time as president of the Automobile Manufacturer's Association, with a plan. Thus, at Jack Davis's urging, "Used Car Week" was observed all across the country early in March.
"The result," as Ford historians Nevins and Hill have noted, "was salutary. By agreement, the poorest cars were burned, the conflagrations of these clunks' arousing the interest of many communities. The Ford organization had taught its dealers so much about used cars that it led all companies with a sale of more than 57,000 vehicles, reducing its used car stock by 22,804 units."
No doubt, the disposal of so much of the used car inventory was of some help to new-car sales, but even so, 1938 was not a good year for the dealers or automakers. Ford's production, like that of many of its competitors, was cut by more than half.
There were no major mechanical changes in the new models, but in terms of styling, Ford instituted a two-track policy that year -- probably in hopes of increasing its appeal via a broader model range.
The 1937 sheetmetal, modified by the use of a revised grille that swept the horizontal upper grille bars into the hood side-vent area, served for the Standard (nee "base") series. Up back, the 1937's free-standing taillights were replaced by neat teardrop-shaped taillights. Inside was a mahogany-look dashboard finish.
The Standard models were relatively spartan, featuring only one windshield wiper, one taillight, and, inside, just a single sun visor and armrest. Too spartan -- in January, Ford added a series of chrome bars to the grille.
The DeLuxe cars were "entirely new in appearance," said the brochure. "It looks big and is big -- with more room in the closed sedans, more comfort for passengers and much larger luggage space. The front end is refreshingly new and modern with longer hood."
Seen in profile, the 1937 Ford DeLuxe convertible
sedan captures the new look for the year.
The softly curved "heart-shaped" grille, also featuring horizontal bars, was heavier and more impressive than that of the Standard series. On the sedans, a long, flowing curve extended down the roofline all the way to the rear bumper, relieving the stubby 1937 look. Inside were "Fine Mohair or Broadcloth upholstery. Big arm rests in rear, each with ash tray. Handsome new instrument panel, finished in walnut, with ivory plastic fittings."
In terms of sheer dollar value, the DeLuxe Ford was hard to beat. For a reasonable $60 more than its Standard counterpart, the DeLuxe Fordor was a roomier, more impressive, more completely equipped, and much better trimmed automobile, with the result that it outsold the cheaper car by a three-to-one margin.
For more on the 1938 Ford Lineup, continue on to the next page.
For more information on cars, see: