Plymouth was the #3 brand in 1937; it was the only American company to post gains every year during the Depression, so far — indeed, the only automaker to post any gain at all in 1932.
Plymouth’s 1937 lineup consisted of three cars, along with a new truck chassis. The cars were the P3, P4, and PT50. The P3 was the business model, with a removable pickup box on the business coupe. It did not have vent windows on the front doors, used painted dashboards rather than woodgrain, and had cheaper trim in general. Sheet metal was painted black unless the customer paid for a different color.
The P4 was one inch shorter in wheelbase in 1937 than the 1936 P2, yet was one inch longer overall (193 3/8 inches), and three inches wider; the cars were styled to look “plumper” than the narrow 1936 models.
The P4 (Deluxe) had an all-steel roof stamping, replacing the prior cloth inserts. A new hypoid rear axle let the company lower the driveshaft and, with that, end use of the “transmission hump;” gears were still helical cut to reduce manual-transmission effort (there was no automatic). The front suspension included a sway bar connected to the axle.
New shock absorbers, the same type used in airplanes, helped cornering; and simple triangle windows were put into the front doors. A considerable amount of effort was put into making all controls safer. As with all Plymouths, the 1937s used hydraulic brakes; new for 1937 was an altered steering gear which the company claimed resulted in both faster response and less effort.
The first commercial car, the PT50, was brought out in response to dealer demands; styled to look like a passenger car, it was a thinly disguised Dodge, riding on a truck chassis, with a wide variety of bodies. It could be had as a sedan delivery, pickup, wooden wagon, seven-passenger taxi, and even as a chassis cab.
All engines used the “Floating Power” system with insulated engine mounts, carefully placed, keeping vibration from the cabin; they also had air and oil filters (still not standard on all low-priced cars) and full-length water jackets. The compression ratio was 6.7:1, relatively high for the times. Rubber-insulated body mounts also helped reduce vibration inside.
The base engine for the cars was a 201 cubic inch L-head straight-six with 82 horsepower at 3,600 rpm, 145 lb-ft of torque at a mere 1,200 rpm, and a 6.7:1 compression ratio. An economy six was optional, with just 65 horsepower, to save on fuel.
The PT50 used a similar 201 cubic inch engine with 70 horsepower, also rated at 145 lb-ft of torque; while a small number of export models had a 170 cid engine. As was true of all Plymouths up to 1940, the engine, bell housing and transmission could be painted either silver or black.
Jim Benjaminson wrote that 1937 was the best year for most of the industry since the all-time record year of 1929. “Following the terrible years of the Great Depression, it had everyone smiling. Plymouth had built and sold a record 566,128 vehicles, setting a record that would stand until 1950.”
Text and photos from Chrysler’s movie, Sailing Along, produced by Wilding Pictures.
The 1937 Plymouth ... there it is sailing along to new records for appearance, economy, safety and performance, sailing along the highways of the nation, the greatest value in all Plymouth history — a history replete with value.
Plymouth was the only car, at the time, that built a million units in the first six years of its existence. Then in a little more than 2 years, the second million mark was achieved. Look at the record of Plymouth triumph during the Depression and since. There is only one way to attain this skyrocketing popularity and that’s by building extraordinary value.
Proof of that value is seen in the scarcity of Plymouth in the used car market. Used car specialists will actually pay more for a Plymouth than for the other two low priced cars. Plymouth popularity stands securely on its history of building longer life, greater safety and more style and luxury into its car year after year. And this year’s automobile is a creation of such beauty that Plymouth stands out in any company.
Look at it from any angle and it’s impressive. See how the lines of the massive fenders are joined with the swelling curve of the smoothly rounded radiator shell. Body lines flow along the sleek hood with its modernistic louvers over the solid one piece steel top and then down the handsome built in trunk. The rear end is harmoniously balanced with those twin tail lights and a centered license bracket with a light below it.
Plenty of room there and it’s all usable room too for the gasoline filler pipe has been removed from the trunk. It’s bigger than the ordinary low priced car in every way. Inches wider from door to door this year, which means a wider windshield for safety.
Three persons sit comfortably in the front seat with ample shoulder room. The rear seat is more than four feet wide, no crowding in this commodious car. Of course the new Plymouth still has chair height seats that permit a normal sitting position. More leg room than ever before because the expensive new hypoid rear-axle makes possible a low floor without any hump to accommodate the propeller shaft. Two big rear windows this year and a convenient reading lamp between them one of many thoughtful details of design. It’s a great big package of value this 1937 Plymouth.
And beneath the beauty is steel for safety. Plymouth has had a steel body for 7 years. Steel pillars, steel panels, and [a] steel floor, [all] sturdily braced and reinforced throughout with still more steel.
Then to crown this masterpiece of body construction there is a solid steel top formed from one piece of steel and then electrically welded to the sides to form one solid rigid unit.
The body builders were thinking of your comfort too, so they provided a wide, deep-dip molding that carries off the rain.
For your protection the new Plymouth introduces safety styling. Door handles have been redesigned, curving inward so they won’t catch your clothing.
The instrument panel combines luxury with safety styling. All knobs and controls on the new Plymouth are recessed, including the ignition key. Nothing protrudes. See how cleverly the windshield controls have been folded away.
Now, this seat back is padded to soften the bump in case of a quick stop. Note too that safety styling makes this arm rest of soft sponge rubber.
Plymouth gives you complete ventilation, not only does the windshield open but also there is a screened ventilator in the cowl. Ventilating wings are operated with a simple lever and when the rear half of Plymouth’s ventilating window is lowered there is no metal bar to obstruct the view or to get in the way when giving hand signals. Rear quarter windows are hinged so they swing outward on pivots. Here again the protruding crank has been eliminated.
Your Plymouth windshield will not be obscured by snow or clouded by steam. Through vents in the bottom of the windshield frame, warm air from a connection with the heater can be directed over the glass.
For added comfort in cold weather, Plymouth uses complete insulation to seal the body against the winter winds as well as to keep out dust, gas fumes and noise.
The story of Plymouth engineering to conquer sound is a thrilling account of scientific achievement that would require a motion picture all to itself to tell.
First a body of steel in all one piece so there can be no body squeaks or rattles. Plymouth was a pioneer in the use of all steel bodies in the low price field. This new car has actually been silenced like a radio studio. The result is the quietest ride of any low price car.
Plymouth was the first of the low priced cars to have hydraulic brakes. Every Plymouth ever built has had them, which means every Plymouth comes to a quick smooth stop.
You go sailing along in a Plymouth completely at ease and confident in the security of hydraulic brakes. It’s a safe stop without skid or side sway because Plymouth’s double acting hydraulic brakes assure an equal pressure on all four wheels. Self-energizing hydraulic brakes used by other manufacturers do not provide that soft smooth stop for through their very principle of wrapping action they have uncontrolled pressure that results in jerky stopping. The development and use of the equal pressure principle for years by Plymouth engineers has perfected the brakes so that the brake shoes take hold evenly on all surfaces of the drum. Plymouth leads the field in steel body and hydraulic brakes.
The superiority of its engine is just as outstanding. Super high compression means economy. Plymouth owners enthusiastically report as high as 24 miles to the gallon of gasoline. Floating power engine mountings with Plymouth calibrated ignition make possible this high-compression economy with smoothness. Patented floating power suspends the engine in perfect balance, and by permitting it to rock on its natural axis, it dissipates vibration and provides the smoothest engine in the industry.
The rigid Plymouth crank shaft revs on 4 main bearings instead of three usually found in low-priced cars. Four bearings mean longer life and economical servicing. The Plymouth camshaft has a special quiet cam design and rests on four large bearings, all pressure lubricated and it’s chain driven which adds to manufacturing costs and at the same time adds to owner satisfaction.
Not only cam shaft bearings but also connecting rod bearings and main bearings in the mighty Plymouth engine receive oil under 35 pounds of pressure. That makes for economical operation and long life. And even today, not all low-priced cars have full-pressure lubrication.
All air that goes into the engine passes through a filter that removes dust and other might damage cylinder walls and bearings.
Not all low-priced cars have an oil filter but Plymouth has one to keep engine oil clean and make it last longer.
Rings of a special hard, heat resisting metal are inserted in the cylinder block to form seats for the exhaust valves and thus postponing the necessity for valve grinding many thousands of miles.
Here’s more economy, Plymouth pistons are of aluminum alloy for finer acceleration and lighter bearing load. Four rings on each piston make possible perfect compression and oil conservation.
Plymouth cools the cylinder bores for their whole length lowering the temperature of the crank case oil as much as 50 degrees. Full length water jackets mean important savings in oil.
But don’t imagine that Plymouth’s amazing economy has been obtained at any sacrifice in performance and certainly not in luxury. In the low price field there simply isn’t another ride like Plymouth. No other low priced car has achieved balance weight and balanced springing that contributes so much to the even smooth ride with front end bounce eliminated.
This 1937 Plymouth has thin leaf springs at the front just as flexible as those at the rear made of a special steel alloy; they contribute to the new ride sensation, Plymouth’s famous floating ride.
To realize what these big aero-hydraulic shock absorbers give you in comfort you must ride in the car. You must go sailing along in the Plymouth to get the feel of it. Plymouth places one of these low pressure, direct acting shock absorbers on each wheel, both front and rear. There are four of these husky fellows at work, saving the springs, smoothing out the road, smothering the shock of a rough road so it seems a boulevard.
Now look at it in slow motion, see those wheels dance but the car and the people in it are cushioned against road shock. The Plymouth irons out a detour. Notice that the car takes the bumps but the passengers never know anything about it.
Here’s another exciting contribution to your comfort. On the rigid X double drop frame are Plymouth’s sensational rubber poised body mountings. Floating power engine mountings keep engine vibration from reaching the body. Now these float the body free of the frame thus the body is completely insulated against road shocks and noises. Now both the engine and the body are floated on live rubber. No longer is there any metal-to-metal contact between frame and body.
Here’s more comfort, more luxury, more reasons why it’s fun to go sailing along in a Plymouth. A steering shock eliminator absorbs road shock that might otherwise be felt in the steering gear. Silent U-shackles are placed on both front and rear springs for silent shackle action, thus greatly improving the steering action.
Plymouth always rides on an even keel because this sway eliminator is connected directly to the front axle, where a change in the car’s forward motion first affects its stability. Travel the roughest roads and you'll find that Plymouth’s steering gear is virtually unaffected by any up and down travel of the axle. Wheel fight is eliminated, while the wheel keeps straight ahead whether you drive in gravel, heavy dust or snow. All together Plymouth’s shockless steering means new steering ease where the going is rough and particularly in city parking.
... Get behind the wheel of that automobile, go sailing along in the new Plymouth. Discover for yourself why the motorists of America agree that Plymouth builds great cars.
In-depth looks at other years - including Dodge and Chrysler. | 1935 Plymouths | 1938 Plymouth cars
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