How the 1949 Ford Saved the Ford Motor Company

Typically, some companies resonate quite well with consumers, and Ford is one such company. For many, the multinational automaker is an icon of American exceptionalism, but they tend to forget that there was a time when Ford was associated with producing military vehicles during World War II, not performance cars. . The history of this legendary brand changed with the arrival of the 1949 Ford, which was the first post-war vehicle built by the company with an all-new aerodynamic design.


Before the Ford of 1949, cars had a different look and style. But those were sober times, as the 1949 Ford came at a time when America was waking up from World War II as the undisputed leader of the world, and rapid social change and a sense of vibrancy came from it. to define the era. Obviously, this was reflected in the design of the 1949 Ford, which was modern, revolutionary and more practical than previous models. Additionally, the different body styles, four-door sedan, two-door sedan, club coupe offered options for different consumer segments.

Related: A look at the 1949 Ford, America’s first major postwar lineup


The smart “kids” who saved Ford

Under the leadership of Henry Ford II, the automobile company embarked on a new trajectory. Ford II understood that to be successful he had to reorganize the company and completely restructure it. Unsurprisingly, Ford II arrived not only with a new corporate vision, but also with an all-new design and management team. As such, he recruited very talented young people from the ranks of the Air Force. These people had senior management and leadership experience, which enabled them to pull the company out of crisis and back into profitability.

Charles B. “Tex” Thornton led the veterans who were dubbed Ford’s “Whiz Kids.” Another famous member of the team was Robert S. McNamara, who later became the president of Ford Motor Company, then the United States Secretary of Defense and, in 1968, the president of the World Bank. Ben D. Mills, Arjay Miller, George Moore, WR Anderson, CE Bosworth, JE Lundy, Francis C. Reith and James O. Wright were also on the team. Needless to say, thanks to them the company was saved and Ford introduced the 1949 model, which became an instant success and emblem of the company’s rebranding efforts.


The Ford of 1949: Henry Ford II takes the reins of the company

Old Henry Ford had become a controversial figure with his anti-war and anti-union views, at a time when everything around him was changing rapidly. Despite his earlier successes, Ford was ready to retire and hand over the management of the company to young Harry Bennett, his right-hand man. But Clara and Eleanor Ford had other plans for the business, so in 1945 the two Ford ladies got together to pressure old Henry Ford into giving up his idea of ​​bringing someone from the outside the family at the head of the company.

According to his wife and Edsel’s widow, either Henry Ford would leave management of the business to his grandson or Eleanor would auction off her stake in the business. Evidently the old Ford agreed, and the ladies got rid of Bennet and inducted the younger, visionary Henry Ford II as the company’s new head. It was a key moment for the American automaker.


Related: This Is How Much A 1949 Ford Custom Costs Today

The 1949 Ford broke sales records

It didn’t take too long and Henry Ford II and his new team understood that the cars on the market were outdated, so they came up with a vehicle with an original design. This new car underlined the company’s aerodynamic efforts. Unlike the full-size vehicles that were on the road at the time, Ford released a body style that looked lighter and more compact. The grille and fenders have become one of the vehicle’s most iconic features, giving it a rebellious look. According to Motor Cities, News Week magazine even claimed that “the new car was certainly, as advertised, Ford’s most radical facelift since the Model A. It was definitely modern and definitely slinky.”


Unsurprisingly, when Ford displayed the vehicle at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on June 10, 1948, the public went crazy. Not only that, but the Fashion Academy Award also honored Ford for his design efforts, and in the end, he gave the 1949 model the top prize for overall styling. Over the next few months, Ford continued to sell the wildly popular car, breaking sales record after sales record. Ultimately, over 1.1 million 1949 Ford cars were built, proving to the world that with determination, best management practices and a great team, organizations can grow and innovate. Today, industry experts consider the 1949 Ford to be the model that saved the legendary company.

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