Ford’s 1938 Breakthrough: The Introduction of Standard and Deluxe Models

In 1938, Ford made a subtle yet impactful change to its product lineup by differentiating between its Standard (82A) and Deluxe (81A) models. This strategic move gave each model a distinct appearance, making them easily recognizable on the road. The primary aim was to pit the Standard models against the base offerings from Chevrolet and Plymouth while positioning the Deluxe models to rival those of Pontiac and Dodge.

Distinctive Design of the 1938 Deluxe Model (81A)

The 1938 Ford Deluxe (81A) was a visual standout. It featured a redesigned grille with a pointed, downward-sloping hood. The grille itself was tall and sharply vee-shaped and included horizontal elements that extended up and back along each side of the hood. Despite these changes, the headlights retained their classic inverted teardrop shape, set into the fender catwalks as seen in the 1937 models.

The Competitive Edge: All-Steel Welded Bodies

Ford heavily promoted its all-steel welded bodies, a groundbreaking feature first introduced in 1937. The slogan “The safety of steel from toe to wheel” highlighted their vehicles’ robust construction and safety advantages. This innovation was coupled with Ford’s mechanical brakes, which had undergone significant improvements.

Enhanced Mechanical Brakes

In 1937, the mechanical brakes in Ford vehicles received a notable upgrade: cables replaced the original rods. This change greatly improved the brakes’ performance, balance, serviceability, and overall feel, making driving a Ford a more reliable and safer experience.


Ford’s 1938 introduction of the Standard and Deluxe models marked a significant evolution in their product lineup. By giving these models distinct identities and enhancing their features, Ford improved their competitiveness in the market and set new standards in vehicle safety and design.

Source: Bonhams Cars


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