MotorCities National Heritage Area
Vintage_Car_Side_Mirror-cropped.jpg

By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of Ford Motor Company Archives
Published 12.23.2020

1951 Ford sedan and convertible Ford Motor Company Archives 11951 Ford sedan and convertible (Ford Motor Company Archives)

Some of the most popular Fords during the early 1950s were the great looking 1951 models. Even today at various car shows, the 1951 Fords still generate a great deal of conversation among automotive enthusiasts. They also have a huge following among custom and hot rod car collectors as well.

1951 Ford ad Ford Motor Company Archives 21951 Ford ad (Ford Motor Company Archives)

The 1951 Ford models were introduced to the public on November 2, 1950 and became so popular that consumers were signing up for waiting lists just to purchase the cars at dealerships across the country. Some automotive historians have said the cars’ front end double-spinner look created a huge sensation. The 1951 models shared some styling features with their 1949 and 1950 counterparts that also became popular among consumers in later years.

One of the Ford automotive designers that helped style the 1951 models was Joe Oros, who was under the direction of George Walker, leader of the Ford Design Center for many years.

1951 Ford assembly line Ford Motor Company Archives 31951 Ford assembly line (Ford Motor Company Archives)

For 1951, Ford introduced an optional “Fordomatic Drive,” which provided easier handling for many drivers and was part of the new automatic transmission. They also offered a key-turn mechanism start which was located to the left side of the steering wheel. On the exterior, a lowered hood design along was included with that new dual-spinner grille and a wider wrap-around bumper, which created a more massive appearance to the front-end design.

1951 Ford Illinois State Police vehicle RESIZED 41951 Ford Illinois State Police vehicle

That same year, Ford introduced a Deluxe line, which included a Business Coupe, Tudor model and Fodor models as well. In the Custom line, models included a Club Coupe, Tudor and Fodor and a great looking convertible. A popular wood-side trim station wagon, the new Crestline series, and the new Ford Victoria models were also available.

1951 Ford convertible on test track Ford Motor Company Archives 51951 Ford convertible on test track (Ford Motor Company Archives)

The 1951 Ford Victoria models offered a great looking design combining a sport hardtop and convertible look that the public thoroughly enjoyed with a price tag of $2,060. The Victoria name plate was first used on the popular Ford Model A in 1931. Some automotive historians called the 1951 Victoria models an all-purpose touring car. The interior was upholstered in durable Ford “Craftcord” fabrics. The Victoria also contributed to Ford’s big sales in 1951.

1951 Ford ad Ford Motor Company Archives 61951 Ford ad (Ford Motor Company Archives)

The Ford V8 Crestliner was introduced in 1950 and was again available for 1951. This limited-edition two door model was distinguished by a vivid contrasting color sweep on its sides and a padded vinyl top design. Only 26,304 units were sold before the model was canceled for the 1952 model year. However, these vehicles have become popular among collectors.

1951 Ford Country Squire wagon ad Ford Motor Company Archives 71951 Ford Country Squire wagon ad (Ford Motor Company Archives)

Ford offered the name Country Squire for its top wagon line in 1951. The model was only available in a Custom series and sold for $2,255. Today, these wagons are also popular with collectors, but they are exceedingly difficult to find because of the deterioration of the exterior wood. Ford introduced an all-new steel body for the next year’s model.

1951 Ford Crestliner brochure page Ford Motor Company Archives 81951 Ford Crestliner brochure page (Ford Motor Company Archives)

In conclusion, Ford Motor Company produced over a million units for the 1951 model year, and these vehicles will always have a place in our automotive history.

Bibliography

Dammann, George H. “Illustrated History of Ford.” Crestline Publishing, 1970.

Sorensen, Lorin “Ford’s Golden Fifties.” Silverado Publishing, 1997.

Langworth, Richard M. “Encyclopedia of American Cars 1930-1980.” 1984.

Miller, Ray. “The Nineteen Fifties Fords” The Evergreen Press, 1974.