Henry Ford was a bit of a dour guy and certainly no slave to style or fashion. GM beat Ford to the punch by opening the first automotive styling department in 1927. Ford got with the program after WWII and produced some of the most memorable designs the U.S. auto industry had yet seen. Here are the top five from FoMoCo:
- 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback Coupe: The convertible Mustang was the glamour ride but the fastback was the real beauty. As hard as Ford tried in 2005 to recapture the magic of the first-generation Mustang, park a ’65 next to the ’05 and it’s clear that the granddads of the people who styled the latest Mustang knew a thing or two themselves about car design.
- 1955 Ford Thunderbird: The 1955-57 T-Birds are generally regarded as the classic Thunderbirds, and even among those years there’s a definite pecking order. Among design geeks, the ’55 is usually the favorite because it is the simplest and the least adorned. The ’56 grew a rear mounted spare tire and the ’57 got bigger fins and a larger grille. The ’55 however, was just right in every respect. A true classic.
- 1949 Ford: The ’49 Ford was the first all-new design from Ford after WWII. It was worth the wait. Ford stylists clearly knew how much was riding on this all-important first new car since 1941, and they delivered. A smooth, modern envelope design that dispensed with the separate fenders of the 1941 Ford, it was clean and very attractive.
- 1941/1961 Lincoln Continental: OK, we cheated: These are really two separate cars, but we couldn’t decide between them. The ’41 was probably the apex of elegant pre-war design for Ford (the lovely waterfall grille is still a design feature on modern Lincolns) and the ’61 might just be one of the greatest pieces of post-war automotive design. In fact, the influence of the ’61 still shows up from time to time in Ford concept cars, and customizers never seem to tire of it.
- 2005 Ford GT: Granted, this wasn’t a new design; it was actually based on a race car that was already 40 years old at the time. Nevertheless, the sheer gumption of launching a state-of-the-art supercar with the styling of a classic race car was about the nerviest thing that the blue oval people have ever done, and we salute them for it. So, for that matter, does the collector car market. Ford GTs became instant collectibles.
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