Hello fellow Ford Addicts, welcome to another edition of our Throwback series. This is a segment where we discuss the classic Ford vehicles that have had an impact on the legacy of the brand we love most. Today’s Throwback: the 1949 Ford.
Now while some might look at this year and think “oh its just another old car,” its actually a lot more than that. This “old” car was one of the first all-new cars to be built after the war. To put this into perspective lets go on a brief history lesson. The 1930s and early 40s were very exciting times for the automobile. Innovative engines, new technologies we still have today, and different models representing what seemed like an unlimited vehicle lineup for some brands were the highlights. But then on December 7th, 1941 things changed. The attack on Pearl Harbor sent our nation to war. Car companies all around shut down production at their factories and began to re-make them to assemble necessary items to send to our troops. Ford’s factories shut down all civilian automobile manufacturing in February 1942, and went on to make B-24 bombers, jeeps, engines for tanks, and other various bits of equipment.
After the war, things had changed at Ford. Henry Ford II took over as president of the company in 1945 and one of the first things he did was plan for all new Ford vehicle assembly. Production started again on July 3, 1945 and the first vehicle was given to President Harry Truman. The 1945 models were mostly made of leftover 1942 parts, as materials to build were hard to come by. But by 1949, a change had come for the better.
Henry Ford II, eager to prove himself at his new position in the company, wanted to make sure this car and his new management styles were successful. The actual design for the car was based on a mix of a design competition and Ford’s in house team. This new model was sleeker, lighter, lower, and slightly shorter than the outgoing models, which were becoming very dated looking designs. New coil spring front suspension, a new steering layout, and ladder frame with an “X” member, which increased rigidity by 60%, were all added to the new model. The total weight of the car was reduced from the older Fords, and the ride was better thanks to the seats being placed forward from the rear axle by 5 inches.
When the models were introduced at a gala in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in 1948, the new design was a hit. The new Standard and Custom trims showed off the new streamlined modern look that set the Ford lineup apart from the crowd. The slab-sides, integrated fenders, chrome trim, and spinner center grille proudly displaying the Ford name were styling techniques that were completely new to the industry and are taken for granted in some ways today. For just $1,425 for the base Tudor model, the new Ford’s were competitively priced against the competition. New engines also made the 1949 models more appealing to buyers as they came standard with a base 6-cylinder engine, or the optional 100 horsepower V8.
With over 1.1 million Ford’s sold in 1949 alone, Henry Ford II had the hit he needed to show he was now in control of his grandfather’s company. This model is significant in the fact that it showed a comeback not only for the American automobile industry after the war, but also for Ford as a company under new management. But lets not forget the lasting styling effect this model has had on vehicles made in the not so distant future. Chrome trim, integrated fenders, and plenty of options to personalize, helped the 1949 Ford become one of the most innovative cars of the 20th century, and certainly an unforgettable one for the company.