Wonderfully-Kept, Strong Performing Example of Pre-War American Automotive Design. Incredible Value, and Open-Air Seating for Four!
1937 Ford V8 (Model 78) Convertible Sedan
Burgundy with Red Leather
By 1937 Ford had evolved their styling and engineering to rather impressive levels. When looking back on Fords from only a decade earlier, it is surprising to find how radically different these fully streamlined designs were. These cars created a critical turning point for Ford, and sales certainly reflected it. The all-steel construction (no longer requiring the former fabric roof insert), integrated headlights, angled grille, and clean trim all resulted in one of the most handsome looking cars of the decade. Of course it was outfitted with the Ford V8, sporting a robust 90hp and improved ride dynamics. A wide range of body styles was available, but the top of the line (and most expensive) was the “Convertible Sedan”. The Phaeton, which had removable fabric side curtains, was less expensive partially due to the convertible sedan having wind up windows – a very nice feature for all weather driving.
The new Ford was such an impressive car that, despite his policy differences with Henry Ford, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt purchased a few of his own four door convertible sedans, converted them to hand controls and enjoying them at his Warm Springs, Georgia retreat. Roosevelt also purchased a 1937 model, which remained with him in Washington, DC throughout his presidency. Continuously recognized as one of the hallmark designs of prewar automobile history, Ford sold over 309,807 model 78 Deluxe models, of which a mere 4,378 were convertible sedans. Today it is believed that fewer than 100 preserved or restored (non-phaeton) examples survive today, making these four door convertibles more desirable than when originally sold new.
This particular example has resided for several years in the private collection of one of Northern California’s most respected automotive historians and enthusiasts. Purchased several years ago from the state of Massachusetts and delivered to California, the car had previously been on display at a museum in Georgia for roughly fifteen years, where it had been preserved with careful attention to originality. At some point, the car was smartly converted to 1941 Ford hydraulic brakes. This professional conversion allows for much better braking, greater comfort and safety while driving on modern roads, delivering far more reliable use than the earlier series brakes. In preparation for sale, the brakes have been adjusted and the ignition system has been checked and serviced for smooth starts.
Today the car presents as a nice quality older restoration with correct finishes and features appropriate for enjoyable driving and casual shows. The paint has nice luster throughout with good gloss and smooth coverage. Some evidence of road use appears in a few areas particularly in the lower front and fender areas, but overall the exterior paint is nicely applied and appears to have been properly maintained. Fit and finish are quite nice along the hood and grille area. Black fender piping is crisp and tight to the bodylines. Doors open and latch properly and fit very well, showing even door gapping, not often found especially in these four door models. The trunk opens and closes smoothly showing mild but typical variation in gap along the bottom edge. The belt line door details smoothly trace the entire perimeter of the car elegantly flowing from the beautifully sculpted grille. Headlight lenses are in very nice shape with no major cracks or significant road chips. The grille is particularly nice with all finely trimmed grille bars lined up and spaced very evenly. The rubber running boards are in very good condition, showing no warping or notable evidence of heat damage. The canvas convertible top is clean and without tears, raising and lowering easily, latching in place against the windshield frame, creating a taut fit over correctly spaced original top bows. The near-new black vinyl top cover snaps in place when driving with the top down. The chrome throughout the car is very good on the bumpers, headlight trim, wheel covers, dual side view mirrors, and accent strips. The whitewall tires are in good condition, showing good tread on all road tires and matching spare.
The interior has been correctly refinished using high quality materials, following proper piping and stitch lines on the door panels, seats, and interior trim. The dashboard has been repainted using simulated wood finish reflecting the original color and texture. The front floor is covered in a correctly formed rubber mat with proper ribbing and fitment over the gear selector. Pedals have correct rubber padding showing little to no wear. Various other trim in the interior has been correctly finished including the rear passenger compartment, which is finished with matching red carpeting, adding a touch of “limousine” flavor to the rear seating area. The instruments are very clear with the Waltham speedometer appearing almost like new and the matching other instruments showing a nice patina. Door handles, knobs, and various levers are all in place and properly functioning. The famous Ford “Banjo” wheel has been correctly painted to match the exterior finish, accenting against the painted wood trim and dash. Overall the interior presentation displays a nice combination of handsome materials and correct finishes one can truly enjoy without the fussiness and responsibilities associated with perfection.
Under the hood the Ford V8 shows correct finishes and fittings as they were when original. Though the engine compartment had been properly restored some years ago, time and enjoyable use have engaged the finishes. Correct air cleaner and filter, proper 6-volt battery, proper radiator and hoses, and correct style ignition wires decorate the purposeful and reliable engine and compartment. The trunk houses a full sized spare tire, and is tidy but not fully restored. In keeping with the rest of the car, the underside shows no evidence of significant damage despite evidence of having covered several joyful miles since restoration.
The car starts easily and settles into idle via manual choke. Once warmed, the car is easily engaged in gear. Once underway, shifting is smooth and even through all gears. Power is generally good with plenty of pull considering the robust construction of these prewar Fords. Highway speeds are quite good, smooth and comfortable, in part due to the tall white sidewall tires, but also in tribute to the ride engineering of the era. The updated hydraulic brakes make a big difference when slowing the car from highway speeds. Pedal is firm and takes a bit of leg strength but braking power is solid and straight.
This 1937 Ford V8 Convertible Sedan has much to offer for an enthusiast of prewar cars. Whether you are leisurely driving around town, along majestic coastline roadways, or on your way to a park-side picnic - these are the outings invite that this four-door convertible to truly shine. With the convertible top and side windows down, and the open road ahead, one is reminded of simpler times, when automobiles were something beyond transportation appliances – an invitation to adventure, open air, and the expanding highway.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
Fantasy Junction • 510-653-7555 • 1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608