Ford De Luxe

The hardships caused by the Great Depression didn't stop the progress of American automotive industry in innovations. Even though the economic downturn had a devastating effect on the middle class creating the "lost decade", wealthy Americans were still doing fine and showed strong interest for luxurious cars.

In 1937 Ford Motor Company introduced De Luxe Ford line alongside existing Lincoln models in an attempt to expand the market and reach more consumers.

The new upscale brand had entirely separate styling and pricing through 1940, for which the foundations were set several years before.

In 1936 Henry Ford introduced a new V8 engine which would become a cornerstone for future models. Like his previous endeavors it was built to last and planned for production in large numbers at a low cost. Edsel Ford, the son of legendary carmaker, had already established a reputation on his own with Lincoln models. The third and final brilliant mind joined the team in 1931 as the head of Ford's new design department.

It was Eugene "Bob" Gregory, who was involved in the design of almost every Ford, Mercury and Lincoln Zephyr design produced up to 1945. As a result of their hard work and skill, the Ford De Luxe was produced from 1937 through 1940.

This magnificent vehicle had a rounded look with fine horizontal bars and hood side grilles in front. Exterior styling was in many aspects copied from the popular Lincoln Zephyr. Power performance was secured with 221 cu in eight cylinder engine that generated 85 horsepower. Hidden deep within the chassis, power from the engine was sent through a three speed manual transmission system.

A larger water pump was installed to increase engine cooling alongside four wheel hydraulic brakes. Henry Ford actually opposed the use of hydraulic brakes until 1939 when he was forced to follow the competitors such as Chevrolet and Plymouth, which set new standards on the market.

The De Luxe model found its way to the market and to the hearts of American consumers. There were not many innovations, just a great combination of existing technology in a modern stylish package. In premium Ford De Luxe models engine was a small bit upgraded to have a smoother overall performance. Improvements consisted of larger radiator frontal area, larger bearings and a heavier crankshaft.

Previously proven concepts mostly remained the same, in example 112 in wheelbase was used since 1933. In comparison basic Standard series was powered by the unpopular 60 hp V8 engine connected with a three speed floorshift transmission. Most popular 1939 De Luxe Ford was the two door sedan called the "Tudor", produced in 144,333 units. The basic price was $742, a quite costly number in those days.

Nowadays, estimates at auctions for Ford De Luxe model range from $65,000 to $75,000. Additional reason for the popularity can be found in hot rod community. Early racing drivers preferred this model, as well as for style of dirt racing tracks. The Ford De Luxe will surely remain one of the iconic classic cars in the American automotive history for years to come.

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