One of the most famous cars in automotive history is the Shoebox Ford.
This iconic car from the Blue Oval boys was introduced as a 1949 model and built until 1951.
The car represented a giant step in the post-war automotive era because 1949 was the first year for new car styles in North America.
World War Two ended domestic civilian vehicle production because manufacturers turned factories into military production facilities to win the war. They made the right choice and North America continues to enjoy the freedom earned on the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific.
The result was an automotive industry that encountered a large post-war demand for cars and produced cars that were similar to the early 1940s models in terms of style. 1949 was a pivotal year for the auto industry because the Big Three offered new car styles after a long hiatus dictated by a war effort.
Ford models became an instant legend because they checked off all of the right boxes in the style department for their customers. The new-for-’49 Ford design was a radical departure from the past because the cars had a completely different look.
For example, the bulging fenders on the previous Fords were almost wide enough to host a dinner party for the Waltons. The ’49-51 Fords got rid of the wide fenders and introduced a sleeker, slab-sided front fender design that pointed the car directly toward a new era in style.
The sleeker design extended down the length of the new Fords so the rear quarter of the car was melded into the overall look of the car.
The result was a spectacular style change from the earlier post-war Ford models and the 1949 Ford was the trailblazer in the new look. The cars were a complete departure from the past and eventually earned the “Shoebox” nickname in the car hobby because of their squarer design.
The sheet metal was completely different on the ’49 Ford-but it still had a flathead engine under the hood. In fact, the V-8 versions of the famous flattie retain their legendary status in the hot rod scene and remain popular in their circles.
However, the ’49 Fords also had some new features hidden underneath from the public eye. These cars now sported a conventional driveshaft system that replaced the torque tube found on 1948 (and earlier) Ford models.
Basically, a torque tube design consisted of a smaller driveshaft largely hidden by a protective tube from the transmission to the rear end. The torque tube was also supported at the rear end of the car by two support struts that helped stabilize the entire system.
Most car guys will agree the torque tube drive system on earlier Fords was a nightmare on wheels when the cars needed clutch repairs. The driveshaft system change on the 1949 Ford made this task easier for the repair guys.
The new-for-1949 coil springs on the Ford models also made the cars more comfortable on the road.
As mentioned earlier in the title, the Shoebox Ford is still a legend in the car hobby even after all of the decades that have passed since the last one left the factory. Cool is a timeless concept.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.
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