The ‘49 Ford marked the beginning of a new era of leadership and direction for Ford Motor Company. The ‘49 Ford became a postwar classic that helped revitalize the company, which sorely needed a boost.
With life finally returning to normal after World War II, 1949 was a time for fun and celebration. Prosperity was back, and the latest craze was customizing vehicles. Enthusiasts would spend countless hours tinkering with engines and body styles to create the perfect car for cruising along "the strip." The '49 Ford was all the rage among those enthusiasts, who loved its sleek and radical design, which they could modify to fit their personal styles.
Knowing the next car they produced could make or break the company’s future, Henry Ford II wanted to design a car that looked like no other car on the road. The task required tremendous skill and imagination. After several internal design attempts, Henry Ford II boldly hired outside styling consultant George Walker.
Walker was up to the challenge, and after three months of nonstop work by Walker and his team, the car was sent to production.
With its evocative aesthetics and improved performance, the ‘49 Ford was a new breed of car. It featured a modern, slab-side design, which meant that the front fenders, body sides and rear quarter panels all formed a clean, unbroken line from front grille to taillight. At the time, this design was revolutionary, since most cars featured bulging side lines, especially around the fenders and side panels. Its design was so remarkable that it won the prestigious Fashion Academy Award for Styling two years in a row.
Unlike other cars, the ‘49 Ford had a silhouette that was long, low and sweeping. The car brimmed with elegant styling cues like horizontal taillights and distinctive bullet-nose front end, which featured heavy chrome molding that curved down from the top of the grille. Inside, the car had more room, new comforts and a sleek new airplane-inspired dashboard design to match the airplane-propeller motif of the bullet-nose grille.
The ’49 Ford came in a range of body styles, including station wagons, convertibles, coupes and sedans.
With something for everyone, from young families raising the baby-boom generation to the teenagers and car buffs looking for a customized ride, the ‘49 Ford was a big hit. Because the public loved it, it also moved the company along the road to postwar prosperity.