1937 Imperial Airflow / See This Vintage Beauty

The beautifully restored automobile featured in this article is a 1937 Imperial Airflow. Airflow models were built by Chrysler from 1934 to 1937. Airflow was the name Chrysler attached to their newly designed streamlined cars. The iconic Air Flows are probably the most Art Deco American cars built. More on this later.

1937 imperial


The 1937 Imperial and Other Luxury Automobiles

Chrysler's Imperial model was obviously a luxury automobile during the Depression Era 1930's. Buyers were few in relation to the pre depression years. With that said, prices for luxury automobiles were lowered where they were closing in on the mid priced range models. Both Cadillac and Packard had been building lower priced models. Imperial in 1937 was still somewhat below the Cadillac and Packard standard and what was being offered with the Imperial at it's 1937 price tag was considered a bargain. Large automakers who also sold mid and economy priced vehicles could lower price and still stay in the game. On the other hand, the depression years certainly had their share of bankrupt independent luxury automakers such as Auburn, Pierce Arrow and others.

In 1937 the C-14 Imperial line offered six models. The highest priced model was the convertible with a new car price tag of about $1,395. A great big luxury car, superb in beauty and performance, amazingly priced in the thousand-dollar range was it's allure. If you had a bit over $1,000 during the Great depression you could own an out-and-out luxury car that was relatively economical to buy and drive.  It's said that only 325 of these convertibles were produced so when you see one you'll know it's very rare.

imperial airflow

1937 Imperial Airflow

1937 Chrysler Advertising

When you take a look back at an automakers advertising you'll get a good idea of what they thought was important at the time.

The entire 1937 Chrysler line, Imperial included, was touted that it's engineering and design efforts had the goal of making Chrysler automobiles the safest on the highway. So what were some of these safety features? Included were a toughened chassis, all steel body, hydraulic brakes that had equalized pressure, safety glass windshield, elevated dashboard to prevent knee injuries, a defroster and a recessed instrument panel.

Chrysler Airflow

The introduction of Chrysler's Airflow automobiles got off to a rather slow start. During the first model year, 1934, total sales for both Chrysler and Imperial Airflows totaled just over 11,000 vehicles. This was not a good figure and unfortunately sales for the Airflows declined in each of the next three years.

What exactly caused the Airflow to fail? Most feel that the stalled introductory during the 1934 model year didn't help and others say that the concept itself was too much too soon. Perhaps introduced before it's time. You also have to consider the fact that the Airflow came out during the middle of the Great Depression which certainly didn't help. Consider one other theory. Luxury car buyers at the time had this belief that a long hood with a large hood ornament (think Packard and Duesenberg) meant prestige. Others thought that plus spare tires mounted on the side of the vehicle meant prestige. If either of these can be a a barometer of luxury car prestige, the Imperial Airflow had neither.

Even though Chrysler's Airflow didn't prove to be a mid 1930's success, the Airflow did influence other auto designs which you may be familiar with. The 1936 Lincoln Zephyr is one example.

chrysler imperial airflow1937 Imperial Specifications

Engine for the 1937 C-14 Imperial was a 273 cubic inch L-head straight eight delivering a rated 110 HP. The engine was considered state of the art in it's design. Included were aluminum alloy pistons and forged manganese steel connecting rods. The engine and transmission were also mounted on rubber in what Chrysler called it's patented "Floating Power".

Transmission was a three speed manual Synchromesh.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic with cast iron drums.

Suspension was built for a very smooth ride. The 37 Imperial featured double acting Aero shocks all around the car. Also independent coil springs on the car's front and steel leaf springs on the rear.

The 37 Imperial's wheelbase was 121.0 inches and the car weighed a heavy 3,850 lbs.

You may enjoy the Auto Museum Online articles on the links below...

The 1955 Imperial Specs and Photos

The Rare 1941 Cadillac Convertible

Where to Find Serial Numbers on Classic and Vintage Cars

The 1937 Imperial Collector Car

All 1930's Imperials are popular collector cars. Relatively speaking, not a great number were built during these years and the number of survivors is small.

imperial dashboard

37 Imperial dashboard

Condition, model, degree of restoration are all factors on current values. Convertibles usually are valued highest. One sale of a 37 Imperial Coupe Convertible garnered about $150,000. As of this writing e also see a 1937 Imperial Airflow, fully restored, priced at $45,000.

References for this article include the Imperial Car Club...Standard Catalog of Chrysler, 1914 -2000 by James T. Lenzke (Editor) and Ron Kowalke (Editor)...The Birth of Chrysler Corporation and It's Engineering Legacy, by Carl Breer.

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)


1946 Ford Half Ton Pickup / Photos and Specs

The 1946 Ford Half Ton Pickup, produced immediately after World War Two, had total production of 78,088.

1946 ford half ton

1946 Ford Half Ton

The New 1946 Ford Pickup

A significant design note regarding Ford Pickup Trucks was that by 1942 the company's cars and trucks had different styling. Prior to that time the passenger cars and trucks shared the same overall design.

Like most auto manufacturers busy re-tooling for post-war consumer production, Ford retained the basic design of the 1942 model year with some minor alterations.

The 1946 designed truck came out with a new heavy grille with horizontal bars. Although there was a new design, parts from the 1942 model Ford trucks were employed in this model which explains many of the similarities between the 42 and 46 models. The truck's hood was widened and had red accents added. Aside from the above, the trucks resembled in many ways the previous pre war model. The 1941 and 1942 models also had many similarities.

1946 ford pickup

Ford's distinctive grille

The bed of the 46 Ford Pickup had wood planks framed by welded steel. The wood bed had steel strips between each board.

Many options were available on the 1946 Ford Half Ton. These included a windshield wiper on the passenger side...an interior heater and a sliding rear window. There was also a wide selection of paint colors.

Ford Motor Company Pre and Post War

The Ford Motor Company was on somewhat shaky ground prior to World War Two and wasn't in much better shape immediately after the war. Civilian car production was halted in February 1942 due to the U.S. entry into the war. Civilian production officially resumed in July of 1945 after the war's end however some civilian production was resumed earlier in the year.

During the war, Ford Motor Company was very involved in building aircraft bombers, tanks and other war vehicles and armament. Many other things happened with Ford during the war years. Edsel Ford, Henry's son, unexpectedly died in May 1943. Edsel Ford was recognized as Ford's mover and shaker for many years and is credited with many advancements and innovations to Ford automobiles including the introduction of the Mercury brand in the late 30's.

Henry Ford Sr. assumed direct operation of the company after Edsel's death until he retired in 1945 leaving Ford's management to Henry Ford II. The elder Ford would pass away just two years later in 1947. One year later, Ford unveiled the first of the F Series pickups. These were the first entirely new designed trucks since prior to the war. This was all the result of Henry Ford II putting the company on a new path.

Henry Ford II had his work cut out for him. The company had been battling against General Motors for a long time and particularly against the Chevrolet Division. As an example of this tight truck competition between the two large automakers, for the 1941 model year, Chevrolet produced 65,500 total pickups. Ford Motor Company produced some 70,000 units.

1946 ford half ton dashboard

46 Ford Half Ton dashboard

1946 Ford Half Ton Pickup Specifications

There were two engines available for buyers of the 1946 Ford Half Ton Pickup.

These were a 226-cubic-inch in-line six cylinder or a 239-cubic-inch V8. The six delivered a rated 90 HP and the V-8 put out 100 HP.

Transmission was a three speed manual on the floor. Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

Suspension included hydraulic double acting shock absorbers.

New truck price for this vehicle in 1946 was about $1.050.

See these additional Auto Museum Online articles on the links below...

1941 Chevrolet Half Ton Pickup

The 1950 First Generation Ford F-1 Pickup

Nicely Restored 1941 Cadillac Convertible

post war ford trucksPost War Ford Half Ton Pickup Collector Vehicles

The Ford Pickup featured in this article represents a milestone vehicle. Here was a truck that came out immediately after the end of World War Two that had a basic design similar to the 1941 and 1942 models yet was given some modifications.

Since civilian vehicle design was essentially non existent during the war years, changes for the 1946 Ford truck were quite modest. As mentioned above, the first totally new Ford truck design came out in 1948 with the introduction of the F-1's.

As of this writing, prices asked for 1946 Ford Half Ton Pickups are in a very wide range. Depending on condition, originality and degree of restoration if any, you'll likely find asking prices from $5,000 to $40,000. You'll also likely run across 1946 Ford Half Tons converted into Street Rods.

References included Ford Trucks 1946-1959 Standard Statistics...Classic Ford Trucks...Ford Motor Company Archives.

(Articles and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)