In 1938, Ford introduced a pivotal yet subtle change to its product lineup by distinguishing between Standard (82A) and Deluxe (81A) models, giving them distinct external appearances for easy identification. The primary objective was to position the Standard models in competition with base Chevrolet and Plymouth offerings, while elevating the Deluxe models to compete with Pontiac and Dodge.
The 1938 Model 81A Deluxe featured a revamped grille with a pointed, downward sloping hood and a tall, sharply vee-shaped grille characterized by horizontal elements extending up and back on each side of the hood. The headlights retained their inverted teardrop shape, set into the fender catwalks, as seen in the 1937 models.
Ford actively promoted its all-steel welded bodies, a feature introduced in 1937, emphasizing “The safety of steel from toe to wheel” in conjunction with their mechanical brakes. Notably, cable operation had replaced the original rods in 1937, significantly enhancing the performance, balance, serviceability, and feel of Ford’s mechanical brakes.