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Bryan
Hagerty Employee

The shoebox that saved Ford remains affordable today

Long before Henry Ford II kicked Enzo Ferrari’s butt at Le Mans, he saved the family business.

 

The son of Edsel became president of Ford Motor Company in 1945. He wasn’t even 30 at the time. The war had finally come to an end, but the company was bleeding badly. In early 1946, its longtime chief stylist, Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie, blew the dust off some designs he had penned before America entered the war, but The Deuce and his young team of executives weren’t impressed ... Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

 

https://www.hagerty.com/media/magazine-features/the-shoebox-that-saved-ford-remains-affordable-today...

 

18 REPLIES 18
PTLSimpson
Pit Crew

I can't imagine an organization that went through more challenges and changes than Ford did in the decade of the 1940's. The list is huge. Willow Run, B24's, Edsel's passing, Henry II called back to lead at 25, John Bugas, Harry Bennett leaving with his coffee cup, and then post war challenges to bounce back. Here's to the Shoebox that drove the renaissance just in time for a new decade and the future. Make mine a 1951 convertible. When my father was young he owned a 1951 Vicky. I love these cars.

jonZ
Instructor

I love this car!!!! It's been on my hit list for many years but can't seem to find one within my budget. The shoebox pictured is my ideal. Flat/satin black, period wheels etc... The custom options are limitless. I can see me now....Cuffed jeans, slicked back hair (grey now), pack-a-smokes rolled up in my tee shirt sleeve, tooth pick in my mouth, (remember Jim Croce HOT ROD ROY). Yeah I know he drove a 57 Chevy but this would put it to shame. Just sayin'. 

RickD
Passenger

During High School in the late 50's and early 60's I bought about five of these which were rough around the edges and drove them till they blew up. You could buy a used motor for $7.00 at a junk yard and swap it out or sell the blown up car for $25.00 and buy another one running for $100.00 I'd love to have any of them back today blown up motor would be no problem as there were a ton of these with small blocks running around town.
PorshaBoyLee356
Pit Crew

The 1950 Ford two-door black and white Custom got some national attention -- when 23 year old Donald Turnupseed failed to yield while turning left to the oncoming Porsche 550 Spyder of 24 year old James Dean -- at the Cholame 466/41 Junction on September 30, 1955.  

MrKnowItAll
Detailer

If I recall, Bob Bourke and Virgil Exner did the initial sketches for the ‘49 on Bourke’s kitchen table.

Kim826
New Driver

And who can forget the 1951 Ford 2 door sedan (with a 1950 front end) and a triple carbureted Ford y block in the 1958 movie "Thunder Road"!

nvonstaden
Passenger

I had a1951 Ford custom..blue in 1962...it was getting thin so gray primer was the color all through huh school..put 57 Mercury skirts on it for awhile..great car ..loves the overdrive on the 3 speed transmission..that engine was bullet proof an never failed to start in cold northern winners...wish Ford would of followed through on there custom “forty Niner”they had on the circuit one year it was beautiful and fit well with anything out nowadays.
merlebalke
Detailer

I hate to see customizers remove the wind splits from the rear fenders. That's a defining characteristic of the cars not to be removed.

GoFast
Detailer

Coil springs were used in the front only.  The rear axle was supported by two semi-elliptic leaf springs running longitudinally. As part of Walker's independent design team, Richard Caleal deserves most of the credit for the shoebox's distinctive shape.

Mrides
Passenger

The 1951 Ford Victoria Hardtop was the first Ford designed by Gordon Beuhrig

,of Auburn Cord Duesenberg fame, after he joined Ford in 1949

Charlie
Pit Crew

Great car.  I had a 1950 Club Coupe that I put a 1956 Olds engine and 1937 Cad-La-Salle 3 speed floor shift transmission in for drag racing.  It also had cut down 1951 Mercury rear fender skirts, spinner wheel covers and a set of Traction Masters to keep the rear tires planted when I got on the loud pedal.

Faro
New Driver

This one, doesn't have the Bullet center piece grill, and it has a 1951 Dash.

warrene
Intermediate Driver

The one pictured is a '50, same car but not quite the same grille.  The '49 bullet is longer, the park lights are different, I tried to use '50 grille parts on my '49 but this did not work well, I found more changes than I bargained for.   The '49 is the shoebox you want, it is the classic, the one that led the way, the one the Whiz Kids built.

farna
Detailer

There is a story in Nash/AMC history that is centered on the 49-50 Ford. It was supposed to be the 1950 Nash Rambler!  Maybe some Fordophile can refute or confirm this...  The story is that George Mason, CEO of Nash (didn't become AMC until 1954), was talking to an outside designer (forget the name) who had come to show them a new car design. Mason sort of kept him hanging while the internal Nash guys (styling was part of engineering back then) showed their own idea. Mason was about to go with it when the 49 Fords came out, and there was the design! The designer got discouraged with Nash and peddled his idea to Ford (maybe talked with others?), who bought it. Mason was furious, as he had given the go ahead to use it for the 50 Nash Rambler, but hadn't told the guy yet. So Nash had to go with an internal design that of course had to look different, but retained some of the proportions of the outside design (and the 49 Ford). Look at both from the front, and forget that the Nash Rambler is smaller, and you can see some resemblance, but then a lot of late 40s (the new post WWII designs, not the rehashed 40-41 models first produced in 46) and early 50s cars have similar proportions/looks.

SilentBoy741
Advanced Driver

Proof that my brain is wired up a bit "differenty":  I read that headline and thought this was a story on how you can suddenly afford to buy a shoebox with Henry Ford's remains saved in it.

JohnZiraldo
Intermediate Driver

I grew up in the 50s in a car-crazy small town in southern Ontario where everyone old enough to drive would spend their Saturdays washing their or their parent's cars and looking for a date for the drive-in on Saturday night. On Sundays we cruzed the main drag, all day.

The baddest ass in town was the son of a preacher man who drove a white on green Ford shoebox convertible. His car was always full of friends looking really tough. It was the envy of everyone in our town. A buddy and I got to ride in it one day and all I could think about while sitting in the back seat was that I was surely going to go to hell, especially if my mother saw me. 

Some 30+ years later I finally bought my first convertible which I still have after almost another 30 years. Often when I go cruising with it I remember that historic shoebox and think of myself as a 77 year old badass.  That car helped shape who I would become.

pbologna
Passenger

I had a 49' a 50' and a 51' (was my first car)

Guitar74
Gearhead

I love these cars and the 49-50 Mercury. I just don't have any more room.