The Ford line of cars was updated in 1937 with one major change — the introduction of an entry-level 136 CID (2.2 L) V8 in addition to the popular 221 CID (3.6 L) V8 unit. The model was a refresh of its predecessor, itself based on Ford's V8-powered Model 40A and was the company's main product. It was redesigned more thoroughly in 1941. The cost was $850 ($13742 in today's dollars) in the beginning of production.
The 1937 Ford featured a more rounded look with fine horizontal bars in the convex front and hood-side grilles. The front grille was V-shaped, rather than following the fenders into a pentagon shape, as on the 1936 model. Faired-in headlights were a major modernization found on both the Standard and DeLuxe trim versions, though much of the rest of the design was shared between Ford's two lines. A larger water pump was used to help aid in cooling. 'Slantback' sedans gained a rear trunk door, though space was limited, and 'Trunkback' versions continued gaining sales. The station wagon had seating for eight passengers.
The 1938 recession hurt sales, as did Ford's continuing of the 1937 cars, including most body panels. 1938 DeLuxe models were differentiated with a heart-shaped grille, though standard models retained the 1937 look. The fading Slantback sedan design was cancelled for good. Only a V8 was offered, either a 60 hp V8 or a 85 hp V8. A new dash was used, with recessed controls for safety.
The 1938 trucks were finally updated, having continued with 1935 looks. Changes included a vertical oval grille and substantial fenders and bumpers.
The Ford's look was again modernized for 1939 — the De Luxe used a low pointed grille with heavier vertical slats, while the standard Ford had a higher grille with horizontal dividers. The headlights (the example illustrated has been converted to '40 Ford sealed beam headlamps - '39s used bulb and reflector lamps, the last year for these) were moved farther apart, now sitting almost in front of the wheels. The side grilles and louvers were removed in favor of chrome strips on De Luxe models. The "alligator" hood opened deep from the top of the grille back, eliminating the side panels found on previous models.
The phaeton, club coupe, and convertible club coupe models were discontinued. The engine was also revised for 1939 with downdraft carburetors widening the torque band but leaving power unchanged at 85 hp (63 kW). Hydraulic brakes were a major advancement across the Ford line.
Ford's upscale Mercury line also bowed in 1939, filling the gap between the De Luxe Fords and the Lincoln-Zephyr line.
A high flat-topped hood dominated the front look of the 1940 model, as the grille spread out to reach the fenders to differentiate the De Luxe line and the headlights were pushed wider still. The standard Ford inherited the grille of the 1939 model with blackout on each side of a heavy chrome center; heavier headlight surrounds serve as another major differentiator from the 1939. 1940 was the last year of the 1937 design and its smaller V8 engine, with a straight-6 to be reintroduced the following year. Sealed-beam headlights were one of the few major advances for 1940, though a hydraulic top was new on the convertible.