The 1949 Ford Custom, often called the “Shoebox Ford”, is a symbol of American prosperity and ingenuity. Advancements in design, technology, and performance were all found in the 1949 Ford. One could argue that the 1949 Ford Custom was a representation of what was happening in America after recovering from The Great Depression and World War II. Cultural movements like hot rodding found a form of expression in the 1949 Ford.
Unfortunately, the modern world has mostly forgotten about this iconic classic car. So if you’re looking to get caught up on the history of Ford, or trying to learn more about your favorite hot rod, here are 10 things everyone forgot about the 1949 Ford Custom.
10 The Ford Custom Was Produced From 1949 To 1951
The 1949 Ford Custom wasn’t just produced in 1949 but until 1951. It wasn’t uncommon for many car makes to just be named by their model year, even if there were no major changes from one year to the next. So when one refers to the 1949 Ford, they’re likely referring to all three years of its production.
The 1949 Ford saved the Ford Motor Company, which is probably why Ford sold the car for three years with little to no changes. The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” must have been believed at Ford.
9 The Ford Custom Featured The First Ford Automatic Transmission
One of the greatest advancements in cars throughout the 1940s and early 1950s is the automatic transmission. The Ford-O-Matic was the first automatic transmission used by Ford and was first featured on the 1951 Ford Custom.
Early automatic transmissions lagged behind their manual counterparts, but some of the components and engineering found in the Ford-O-Matic are still used today. So you can thank the 1949 Ford for the ridiculously fast cars with automatics today.
8 The Ford Custom Used A Flathead V8
Most people associate the Flathead V8 with the Ford cars of the 1930s; or with the getaway cars of Bonnie and Clyde. The Flathead was still used postwar though, being found under the hood of the 1949 Ford for all three production years.
The Flathead V8 in the 1951 Ford makes 100 horsepower – not too shabby for 1940s standards. Ford finally upgraded to an overhead-valve design in 1954, keeping the Flathead in production for over 20 years.
7 The Ford Custom Was The First New Car Post WW2
When America entered World War II in 1941, car manufacturers repurposed their factories to build bombers, tanks, and firearms for the war effort. Ford specifically built bombers and Jeeps throughout World War II.
When the car was over manufacturers picked up where they left off, building models from the 1941 model year. Ford became the first American manufacturer to produce a lineup post-war; building coupes, wagons, convertibles, and sedans of the 1949 Ford model.
6 The Ford Custom Was The First Model Produced After Henry Ford’s Death
Henry Ford is one of the most important figures in car history and the founder of the Ford Motor Company. He retired in 1919 but was called back to help Ford after his son Edsel died in 1943.
Henry Ford was replaced by his grandson Henry Ford II in 1945, and he passed away in 1947 at the age of 83. The 1949 Ford was the first new model lineup to wear his name after his death; marking a major change in Ford’s history.
5 The Ford Custom Did 0-60 Mph In 17 Seconds
The 100 horsepower Flathead V8 is by no means a performance beast, but it made ample power and moved the car along just fine for 1940s standards. Despite the lackluster performance, the Flathead V8 is easily one of the most important V8s every gearhead should know.
The 0-60 mph time was 17 seconds for the 1949 Ford Custom V8, though performance improved some in the 1950 and 1951 model year.
4 The Ford Custom Is The Perfect Hot Rod
The Hot Rodding movement was in full swing by the mid-1950s, and the 1949 Ford was one of the cheapest used cars anyone could buy at the time. Speed-crazed hot rodders were soon buying them up and modifying them.
The 100-horsepower flathead V8 was usually thrown out and exchanged for a small-block Chevy V8. Pinstripes, chrome trim, and great drag-racing performance were all hallmarks of the 1949 Ford Hot Rods.
3 The Ford Custom Had The First Crest Emblem
Ford’s blue oval logo is one of the most iconic logos in the world and is associated with America as much as it is with Ford cars. America was moving towards more complicated and loud design in the 1950s though, so Ford changed their logo to match the trend.
The crest was first featured on the 1950 Ford Custom. The crest was also a marketing gimmick, trying to create some distance between Henry Ford and Henry Ford II. The logo never quite caught on, and Ford went back to using the blue oval entirely in the 1980s.
2 The Ford Custom Was An International Success
Ford was founded and is still based in America but has become a global brand, particularly finding popularity in Britain and other Commonwealth markets. The 1949 Ford Custom helped launch Ford’s global market and makes it one of the most important cars in Ford’s history.
The 1949 Ford is one of the Blue Oval’s cars that became a hit across the world. They were sold in Canada as the Mercury Meteor. Ford even built factories in Malaysia and Australia to build the car for the Asian and Oceanic markets. The Aussies even built a ute version.
1 The Ford Custom Was The Origin Of Crown Victoria Namesake
We’re sure many of you have been pulled over by a Ford Crown Victoria, but you might be surprised to learn that the Crown Victoria borrowed its name from a luxury version of the 1949 Ford Custom.
The Custom Deluxe Victoria was Ford’s luxury offering for 1951, featuring a plush leather interior and convertible top. The name was revived in the 1990s when Ford launched their full-size Crown Victoria sedan; mostly known for its police work today.