1949-1959 Full Size Ford
The 1949 models debuted at a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in June 1948, with a carousel of the new Fords complemented by a revolving demonstration of the new chassis. The new integrated steel structure was advertised as a "lifeguard body", and even the woody wagon was steel at heart. The convertible frame had an "X member" for structural rigidity. From a customer's perspective, the old Custom, De Luxe, and Super De Luxe lines were replaced by new Standard and Custom trims and the cars gained a modern look with completely integrated rear fenders and just a hint of a fender in front. The new styling approach was also evident in the 1949 Mercury Eight and the all-new Lincoln Cosmopolitan. The styling was influential on many European manufacturers, such as Mercedes Benz, Borgward, Austin, Volvo and many others. The all-new 1949 Ford was said at the time to be the car that saved the Ford Corporation. Competition from GM was surpassing the old Ford designs. In some ways the vehicle was rushed into production, particularly the door mechanism design. It was said that the doors could fling open on corners. In the 1950 model there were some 10 changes in the door latching mechanism alone.
1950 saw a new Crestliner "sports sedan"—a 2-door sedan with 2-tone paint intended to battle Chevrolet's popular hardtop coupe of 1950. Another new name was Country Squire, which referred to the 2-door wood-sided station wagon. All wagons received flat-folding middle seats at mid-year, an innovation that would reappear in the minivans of the 1990s. The 1949 and 1950 styling was similar, with a single central "bullet" in the frowning chrome grille. In the center there was a red space that had either a 6 or 8 depending if the car had the six-cylinder engine or the V8. The trim lines were renamed as well, with "Standard" becoming "Deluxe" and "Custom" renamed "Custom Deluxe". The new Fords got the now-famous "Ford Crest" which appeared on the division's vehicles for many decades in one form or another. A Deluxe Business Coupe was also marketed.
The 1951 Fords featured an optional Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission for the first time. Ford finally answered the Chevrolet Bel Air and Plymouth Belvedere charge with the Victoria hardtop in 1951, borrowing the term from the victoria carriage. The car was an instant hit, outselling the Chevrolet by nearly 10%. The Crestliner continued for one more year, however. All 1951 Fords sported a new "dual-bullet" grille and heavy chrome bumpers. This year Ford also added a new "turn-key" ignition. Front suspension is independent coil springs. Head room was 36.1 inches.
For 1952 the model lines were again reshuffled, with the base model now called "Mainline" and mid-level called "Customline". The top "Crestline" included the "Sunliner" convertible, and the "Victoria" hardtop, a tradition going back to 1932 with the Ford Victoria 2-door coupe. The station wagon continued with the "Country Squire". Inside was a "flight-style" control panel and new pedals suspended from below the dashboard. A voltmeter, gas gauge, temp. gauge, and oil pressure were standard. The clock and radio were in the center of the dash. The grille sported a single center "bullet" surrounded by a chrome ring as well as "jet intake" corner markers. New trunk hinges were used that would not crush the contents of the trunk. The brake and clutch pedal were now suspended. Wheelbase was 115 in (2,921 mm).
1953 was Ford's 50th anniversary. The big news for 1953 was the availability of power-assisted brakes and steering, which had previously been limited to the Mercury and Lincoln lines. The center grill bullet lost its ring and was now flanked by vertical black stripes, while the corner markers were plain rectangular lights rather than the circular "intakes". All 1953 Fords featured commemorative steering wheels marking the company's 50th anniversary. Mechanical changes included two-inch wider tread, and a k-bar frame with five cross-members. William Clay Ford paced the Indianapolis 500 in a Sunliner convertible with a dummy Continental tire kit (Coronado kit). This was also the last year for real wood trim on the Country Squire wagon. Toward the end of the year, Ford added "Master-Guide" power steering as an option on cars with V8s. Full instrumentation was still used. An unusual service provided by Ford was that the radio preset buttons would already be set to local stations by the dealer. The heater was $74.00.
The long-lived flathead V8 engine was replaced for 1954 by a 239 cubic inch overhead valve Y-block unit, marking the end of an era. This engine produced 130 hp (97 kW) with a two-barrel carburetor. An impressive 160 hp (119 kW) 256 CI version with a Holley four-barrel was available in the official-use-only law enforcement model. The six-cylinder was up to 223 cu in (3.7 L) and now produced 115 hp. Another new addition was the "Crestline Skyliner" two-door hardtop, which featured an acrylic glass panel over the front half of the roof. Also added was the new "Astra-Dial Control Panel" speedometer, which has a clear, plastic covering on the top, which let sunlight illuminate it in the day-time. New power accessories included a four-way power front seat. The "woody" Country Squire wagon now used artificial fiberglass panels but remained the most expensive Ford.
The American Ford line of cars gained a new body for 1955 to keep up with surging Chevrolet, although it remained similar to the 1952 Ford underneath. The Mileage Maker I6 was bumped up to 223 CID (3.7 L) for 120 hp (89 kW) and the new-for-1954 Y-block V8 was now offered in two sizes: Standard Fords used a 272 CID (4.5 L) version with 162 hp (121 kW) with 2-barrel carburetor and single exhaust or 182 hp with 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, but the large 292 CID (4.8 L) unit from the Thunderbird was also offered, boasting 193 hp (144 kW). Apart from the engine changes, customers were sure to notice the new Fairlane, which replaced the Crestline as the top trim level, while a new Crown Victoria-style featured a chrome "basket handle" across the familiar (and continued) "Victoria" hardtop roof, which originally appeared on the Mercury XM-800 concept car. This use of a styling feature to visually separate the front of the passenger compartment from the rear reappeared on the 1977-1979 Ford Thunderbird, the Ford Fairmont Futura and Mercury Zephyr Z-7 coupes. The company now marketed three different rooflines on its two-door models; the tall two-pillar Mainline, Customline, and Fairlane sedans, pillarless hardtop Fairlane Victoria and the chrome-pillar Fairlane Crown Victoria. The Fairlane Crown Victoria was also offered with a transparent "skylighted" top. New brakes were used 11-inch (280 mm) drums. Also, Fords had a new frame, but still with five cross members. The Fords introduced for 1955 also featured the panoramic windshields found on Oldsmobiles, Buicks and Cadillacs the previous year. With this panoramic windshield the A-pillars have a vertical angle. This gives the driver more panoramic visibility. For the first time, Ford offered seat belts as a dealer option (not factory installed, with instructions provided by a Service Bulletin). Also new for 1955 was Ford's first factory installed air conditioner. This “Select Aire” option featured an integrated heater core and evaporator coil unit within the dash and cold air discharge vents located on top of the dash on either side of the radio speaker. The "Select Aire" design was carried over to the 1956 models with slightly different cold air vents in the same location as on the 1955 models. The condenser was mounted in front of the radiator as in later cars. The 1955 Fords were marketed under separate names for each of the three trim levels: Ford Mainline, Ford Customline and Ford Fairlane. Station wagons were offered as a separate series for the first time for 1955. The Ranch Wagon and Custom Ranch Wagon were 2 door wagons while the Country Sedan and Country Squire models were 4 door wagons, the latter featuring wooden appliqué side mouldings. A sedan delivery variant was marketed as the Ford Courier.
The eggcrate grille featured on the 1955 cars was widened into a series of rectangles for 1956, but this subtle exterior change was nothing compared to Ford's adoption of a 12-volt electrical system across the line. The Crown Victoria Skyliner's sales were plummeting with just 603 made, and it would be replaced by a convertible the next year. A new addition at midyear was the "Town Victoria" 4-door hardtop model which, along with the new Customline Victoria 2-door hardtop, were meant to compete with the Chevrolet Bel Air and Plymouth Belvedere. The Parklane, a Fairlane trimmed Tudor station wagon, was added to compete with the Chevrolet Nomad. There were new convenience options, such as a new air-conditioner system, a new heater, and a nine-tube signal-seeking radio. Instead of gauges, instrument cluster warning lights for oil pressure and ammeter were standard. Victoria hardtop coupes now adopted the lower, sleeker roofline used by both 1955 and 1956 Crown Victoria, sans the wide chrome roof trim. The Lifeguard safety package — consisting of seat belts, a padded dashboard, a deep-dish steering wheel, and a breakaway rearview mirror — was introduced. The option was a slow-seller. The optional air conditioner, which remained expensive and thus a slow seller, was totally revamped; the compressor was now housed beneath the hood and the cooling vents were moved to atop the dashboard (it could not be ordered on the Thunderbird.
The 1957 models retained a single-headlight front end like their predecessors, but were unmistakable with their long flanks and tailfins. A plethora of trim lines was introduced, starting with the base "Custom", "Custom 300", "Fairlane", and top-line "Fairlane 500". The two Custom lines used a 116 in (2946 mm) wheelbase, while the Fairlanes had 118 in (2997 mm) between the wheels. A new car/pickup truck hybrid based on the short-wheelbase chassis was also introduced, the Ranchero. The 223 CID (3.7 L) OHV Straight-6 continued, now with 144 hp (107 kW). The V8 lineup included a 272 CID (4.5 L) Y-block making 190 hp (142 kW), a 292 CID (4.8 L) Thunderbird version making 212 hp (158 kW), a 312 cubic inch V8 making 245 HP and a supercharged 312 CID (5.1 L) Thunderbird Special making 300 hp (224 kW), and designated "Police Interceptor" on the glove box. Two dual 4 barrel versions of the naturally aspirated (non-supercharged) 312 cubic inch V8 rated at 270 and 285 HP were available. The 270 HP version had the same cam as all the other V-8's but had vibration dampers on the valve springs. The 285 HP engine had a racing cam and was only available to NASCAR and possibly other racers. This option was dubbed "E code" and was available in all body types. It came standard with the deep-dish steering wheel. The radio had a transistorized audio output stage for the first time. There were lights for the generator and oil instead of gauges. The controls became recessed for more safety (the Lifeguard safety package was still available). A new frame was used for the 1957 Fords. It moved to perimeter rails out, so that they would fully envelope the passengers. In a survey of 1957 Ford owners in the March, 1957 issue of Popular Mechanics, only 6.2% of owners ordered seat belts. This model was very successful, being the best-selling car in America, overtaking arch rival Chevrolet for the first time since 1935.
In 1958 the line was freshened with a simulated hood scoop and dual-headlight front clip. The rectangular grille openings gave way to circles, and a simulated hood scoop was added. A new 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic was optional along with the 2-speed Ford-O-Matic and manual transmission. Engines were also updated, with the 272 CID dropped, the 292 CID making 205 hp (153 kW), and a new-generation 332 CID (5.4 L) FE V8 rated at 240 HP in 2 barrel form and 265 HP in 4 barrel "Interceptor" form. The new 352 cubic inch V8, also dubbed "Interceptor" and rated at 300 hp (224 kW) made its debut. Galaxie production was started in Lorain, Ohio at Ford's Lorain Assembly plant for 1958 and continued through 1959 with 102,869 Galaxies produced there. Air suspension became optional. The convertible version of Ford Fairlane 500, Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner (also called Skyliner Retractable Convertible), had been sold for three years - 1957, 1958, and 1959. It was the most expensive vehicle offered by Ford. The 1958 Skyliner sold for $3,163 while the standard convertible sold for $2,650 and the sedan went for $2,055. A total of 14,713 units were produced in 1958. Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner weighed 4,609-pounds.
The top-line spot for 1959 was the new Galaxie, positioned above the continued Fairlane 500. The Custom line was dropped, with Custom 300 the lowest rung on the ladder, and all 1959 Fords used the long 118 in (2997 mm) wheelbase. New for safety was fully padded armrests and rear door locks that were child proof. American prices ranged from the mid-1,000 to the low 3,000s. This version was also assembled in Australia, beginning in late 1959. Local models were the luxurious Fairlane 500, the lower-priced Custom 300 (both sedans), as well as the Ranch Wagon. The Australian models were powered by the 332 cu in (5.4 L) "Thunderbird" engine, producing 204 hp. For 1960, the range was updated with the grille and trim from the 1959 Canadian Meteor.
1949 Ford - This was the first all-new automobile design introduced by the Big Three after World War II, civilian production having been suspended during the war, and the 1946-1948 models from Ford, GM, and Chrysler being updates of their pre-war models. Popularly called the "Shoebox Ford" for its slab-sided, "ponton" design, the 1949 Ford is credited both with saving Ford and ushering in modern streamlined car design with changes such as integrated fenders and more . The design would continue through the 1951 model year.
Retractable - The Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner was produced by Ford in the United States for the model years 1957, 1958 and 1959. In 1959 the model name changed to Ford Galaxie Skyliner very shortly after the production of 1959 models had started. The retractable roof mechanism also known as "Hide-Away Hardtop" was unique to Ford branded products.
Galaxie - The name was used for the top models in Ford's full-size range from 1958 until 1961, in a marketing attempt to appeal to the excitement surrounding the Space Race. For 1962, all full-size Fords wore the Galaxie badge, with "500" and "500/XL" denoting the higher series. The Galaxie 500/LTD was introduced for 1965 followed by the Galaxie 500 7-Litre for 1966. The Galaxie 500 part was dropped from the LTD in 1966, and from the XL in 1967; however the basic series structuring levels were maintained. The "regular" Galaxie 500 continued below the LTD as Ford's mid-level full-size model from 1965 until its demise at the end of the 1974 model year.
Country Squire – The Ford Country Squire is a full-size station wagon that was marketed by Ford Motor Company from the 1950 to 1991 model years in North America. Throughout its entire production run, the Country Squire was the premium station wagon model of the division, sold only in the full-size car range. In use for 41 years, it was the third longest-used car nameplate used by Ford in North America (behind only the Thunderbird and Mustang).