1937 Ford, Affordable Elegance
Sometimes everyday, inexpensive automobiles turn out to be jewels of design and function. The 1937 Ford was one of those. Created under the supervision of Edsel Ford, it came to life in an era when automobiles were not subjected to design by committee, and thus conceptual purity could be maintained.
There isn’t a line out of place, nor a part that doesn’t harmonize with the whole. Even though the basic design dated back to 1935, the 1937 Fords were smart, jaunty, and still contemporary. They were beginning to take on the look of the streamlined Lincoln-Zephyr, no bad thing. And these were the first Fords with headlights mounted in the front fenders, plus an all-steel top.
Fords were offered in standard and deluxe models with a variety of body styles, including a roadster, convertible, cabriolet, and convertible sedan. People certainly enjoyed open-air driving in those days! Sedans could be had with a “slant-back” or “trunk-back” rear deck, with two doors or four doors. With coupes and “woody” wagons, there were seventeen models from which to choose. Prices ranged from $585 for a base 2-door coupe to $860 for a DeLuxe Convertible Sedan.
In 1932 Ford introduced its milestone V-8 engine, the first to appear in a low-priced car, offering the advantage of requiring less under-hood space than the long straight eights that were then popular. For three years the V-8 was sold alongside Ford’s 4-cylinder engine but in 1935 the four was dropped, making a V-8 the only engine you could get in a Ford.
By 1937, though displacement was still 221 cubic inches, the flathead V-8 was producing 85 hp (a smaller, 60 hp version was also offered), which, with the car’s relatively light weight, gave spirited performance. More weight was in the nose than the tail, though, so understeering was the dominant handling characteristic. Not that the suspension was very sophisticated; Henry Ford continued to reject the adaptation of independent front suspension.
Mr. Ford was equally stubborn with brakes; his cars still depended on mechanical braking when hydraulics were becoming common in the industry. In spite of these drawbacks, the 1937 Fords were lively and fun to drive, while providing a high standard of comfort and convenience for family buyers. For a few dollars extra, you could even order your Ford with, among other things, a radio, heater, clock, dual wipers, and wheel skirts.
Above all, though, this V-8 for the masses was admired, and still is today, for its curvaceous, balanced lines, which artfully blended functionality with the beauty of a new era’s streamlined elegance.
Watch a fascinating inside look at the production of Ford automobiles at the Rouge River plant in Dearborn Michigan below: