Article: 27 Stunning Photos That Prove Your Next Project Should Be a Ford: HowStuffWorks
27 Stunning Photos That Prove Your Next Project Should Be a Ford
By: Dave Davis
Image: Unsplash by Stan Diordiev
About This Article
There are only a few companies that become true household words — and fewer still that have become icons for generations. The Ford Motor Company is one of those organizations. The modern automobile age began with Ford in 1903, and it is still one of the best-known, best-regarded companies in the world. If you're looking for a rebuild project in your garage, a focus for your automobile collection, or are in the market for an "everyday" vehicle, we've collected 27 reasons why you should turn your attention to the Blue Oval.
For decades, Ford has managed to construct vehicles that are both beautiful and practical and has been rewarded for that effort by an intense fanbase and an enduring presence in the automotive market. The F-150 is a prime example of this: Not only is it one of the best-looking pickups in the marketplace, but it has been the best-selling vehicle (not truck — vehicle) in the U.S. since the 1980s. You don't get that kind of market share by chasing trends; you get those results by creating trends.
Do you see yourself finding a classic Mustang that needs some love and coaxing back into being the thing of beauty it was created to be? Or would you rather start with a Ford GT and keep it in racing shape? Maybe you want to find that Thunderbird you learned to drive with and bring a bit of your past into the present. Whatever the case, here are 27 Fords that will make your garage one of the favorite rooms in your house!
Enter the Mustang
When a car creates an entire class of automobiles, the automaker has done something right, and that certainly describes the Ford Mustang. Entering the field late in the 1964 model year (these first models are generally referred to as the "1964 1/2 Mustang"), the vehicle created what would be known as the "pony car." It had a long front, short rear and a lot of heart. When the Mustang first hit the market, Ford expected to sell fewer than 100,000 the first year. But in the first 18 months, more than 1 million 'Stangs were sold. Ford had a winner, and other car companies rushed to follow the leader.
The (Modern) GT
The Ford Motor Company hadn't had much luck in racing until a blown merger deal with Ferrari angered the top boss, Henry Ford II, into spending the money to make a legend — The Ford GT40. This car would go on to beat Ferrari four straight times in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race from 1966 through 1969. Built as part of the company's 100th-anniversary celebration in 2004, the Ford GT was built to honor that classic racing car, using very similar lines but making it street legal and consumer-friendly. The GT was built through 2006, and then again from 2016 to the present.
Few vehicles evolved more in their production cycle than the Ford Thunderbird. Beginning life in 1955 as a convertible built for two — and no more — the line was redesigned as a four-seater when the 1958 model year began to increase sales. And it worked; the four-seat model sold four times more than the two-seat edition and brought to life an entirely new market: the personal luxury car. Over the years, the T-bird was redesigned a number of times, until only the name connected the later models to the first. The model was also used as Ford's NASCAR offering for a number of years.
The Little Deuce Coupe
The Beach Boys immortalized this Ford in 1963 in their song, "Little Deuce Coupe," and it's easy to see why. The 1932 version (the "2" in the year is the "deuce" in the name) was already a classic by then, and it has only become more so in the years that followed. The Coupe — technically named the Model 18 — has been a favorite of hot-rodders. In fact, those who build new hot rods use the body style, even when the new body is made of fiberglass. The 1933 and 1934 Fords also became popular with the hot-rodding culture, but there will always be only one "Little Deuce Coupe."
Ford in Pop Culture
Because it has been a vital part of the everyday lives of generations of Americans, Ford often shows up in popular culture. In addition to 2019's "Ford v Ferrari," Fords have been featured in films like "Jurassic Park," "Gran Torino," "Gone in 60 Seconds," "Men in Black" and countless TV shows. Perhaps one of the best representations of a Ford on the silver screen was in the 1968 Steve McQueen movie, "Bullitt." The green Mustang GT Fastback, seen here, was the "hero" car used by McQueen in the film's almost 11-minute chase scene. This car was definitely ready for its close-up!
The Model A
It was going to be hard to avoid the "sophomore slump" when it came time to replace the Model T; after all, the Model T, which had been in production for 18 years, was the car that started the automobile age. The Model A, however, was up to the challenge. Built on the "A"-style chassis (thus, its name), the Model A was nothing if not adaptable — it was released in dozens of body styles, ranging from a deluxe coupe to a panel truck. The A would only be made between 1927 and 1931 until it was replaced by the Model B, but the A proved that Ford was more than a one-trick pony.
The Cobra Strikes
The vehicle that put automobile designer and legend Carroll Shelby on the map, the AC Cobra is the product of outside-the-box thinking. Shelby had the idea in 1961 of taking the lightweight Ace frame made by AC cars in Britain and incorporating a V8 engine into it. He first approached Chevrolet for the engine, but they declined, not wanting to make a competitor for their Corvette. Ford, however, had an engine that fit the bill, and the rest is automotive history. The Mark III Cobra, pictured here, is powered by a 427-cubic-inch, or 7.0-liter, V8 and has a 425 braking horsepower rating.
The One that Started It All
The Ford Model T was the first automobile built on what would become Henry Ford's biggest legacy — the moving assembly line. Instead of workers moving around the car as it was being built, the line instead moved the evolving car to the workers, allowing them to focus on their part of the assembly process. In this way, workers could be more easily trained and the time to build each vehicle was slashed. The Model T would be built from 1908 through 1927, and 15,007,033 rolled off the line in that time — a production record that lasted until the Volkswagen Beetle broke it in 1972.
The Ford F-Series pickup has been the go-to truck for generations of drivers who need their vehicle to do work (or just want to be able to haul an occasional load). Started in 1948, the F-Series offered the F-1 (a half-ton pickup or panel truck) through the F-8 (built for heavy-duty jobs). The second generation of trucks, like the one pictured here, were built from 1953 through 1956 and started the naming conventions (F-100 through F-700) that Ford still largely uses to this day. The most popular vehicle on U.S. roads today isn't a car — it's an F-150.
A classic from the 1950s, the Ford Fairlane was named after Henry Ford's Michigan estate, Fair Lane. Built between 1955 and 1970, the first generation Fairlane, pictured here, offered six body styles, including hardtops and convertibles, and offered straight-six V8 engine options. Restyled through seven generations, the Fairlane would mirror some of the automotive fashions of the day, with model styles incorporating tailfins and fastbacks. The Fairlane would be succeeded by both the Galaxie and the Torino, but would never leave the hearts of those who had fond memories of the line.
Ford was the first thread in what became the American automotive tapestry. Although it wasn't the first car manufacturer — not even in the United States — it was the first car line made to be affordable to the middle class. That ability to open up the world of automotive travel to almost everyone made Ford a household name. The Ford family of cars comes in all shapes and sizes, and because of its long history and millions of vehicles produced, entire aftermarket industries have been created to cater to those owners who want to do something special for their Ford.
Powered by Ford
The engine is the heart of the car, and Ford has never been shy about adding power under the hood. The powerplants started out small — the Model T engine was an inline-four that produced 20 horsepower and could get the vehicle to a top speed of 45 mph. Bigger engines, however, soon followed. The V8 engine started appearing in Ford vehicles in 1920, but in 1932, this powerful option started appearing in mass-produced Fords. In modern cars, Ford's EcoBoost technology allows smaller engines to have the power of a big plant without sacrificing fuel efficiency.
Vehicles for the Post-War World
Like other automakers during World War II, Ford ceased making passenger cars and starting producing military vehicles and other items for the war effort. Once that was done, the returning troops, their families and the rest of America wanted to get back to the business of living, and Ford ramped back up to making consumer vehicles in 1946. While these vehicles weren't setting the world on fire with dynamic designs, they did have one attraction that was hard to top: They were new. The 1947 Super Deluxe Convertible, pictured here, was similar to the '46 with some slight evolution.
A Tale of the Tailfins
One of the most distinctive — and strangest, looking back — automotive trends was the age of the tailfin. The style, which started in the 1950s, really peaked between the mid-'50s and the early 1960s. While Ford didn't have the biggest, wildest tailfins in the industry (that honor probably goes to the Cadillacs of that time), certain models, like the Thunderbird pictured here, were proud participants in the game. Although some companies justified the fins as more than fashion — Plymouth said the fins helped to "stabilize" the vehicle — fins largely faded by the mid-1960s.
Going the Distance
In the U.S., most of the attention goes to NASCAR and IndyCar racing, but endurance racing is the preferred motorsport of many. The demands of a race that requires the car to race 12 or 24 hours straight are different than those of shorter races where speed rules all. In endurance races — the "Triple Crown" races being 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans — the car must travel not only fast but far. A recent Le Mans winner, for instance, traveled 3,264 miles during the 24-hour race. Ford won that particular race with the GT40 model from 1966 through 1969.
Crazy 'bout a Ford Truck
The Ford F-Series first hit the road in 1948 and has gone through many different looks throughout its production life. The series of light- and medium-duty trucks has gone through 13 generations, with a 14th soon to be released. The truck has evolved from a special-use vehicle to the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. since 1986. The fifth-generation F-Series, pictured here, was built between 1966 and 1972 and offered a slightly larger cab than its predecessor and several different engine options, ensuring that there was one model perfect for every driver who wanted a Ford truck.
The Mach 1
To make the most of a vehicle as popular as the Mustang, Ford decided to release different versions of the car, including the Mach 1 performance package. Built between 1969 and 1978 — the vehicle here is a 1970 — the Mach 1 was released with a fastback body (that Ford called a "SportsRoof") and offered a 428-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) V8 powerplant. The cars also had beefier suspension options and other styling that separated them from the rest of the stable. Three generations of Mach 1 vehicles were released during that period, with a fourth offered between 2003 and 2004.
A Global Brand
Although the Ford Motor Company will forever be considered an American brand, the automaker has developed vehicles to meet the needs of drivers in other countries as well. The Ford Capri pictured here, for instance, was built for the British market (notice the placement of the steering wheel). The Capri was built in three generations from 1968 through 1986 and was also released in the European, Australian and South African markets, designed to reproduce the success of the "Mustang" in those areas. The design and nameplate were also used for a time in the United States.
For most car buyers, the car they get off the showroom floor will be the same car they trade in when it's time for a change. For a dedicated group of aftermarket enthusiasts, however, the car they buy is only the starting point. "Hotting up" a "roadster" — or "hot rodding" — is typically a case of taking an older car (Fords from the 1930s often make the most iconic hot rods) and modifying or replacing the engine and other parts for better power, speed and handling. The body of the car is usually refinished, redesigned or otherwise modified to complete the package.
Designing Cars for the Marketplace
It takes a lot of work to design a car. The mechanics are critical, of course, but the look of the vehicle also has to resonate with buyers. If the car doesn't sell, all the engineering in the world won't matter. This isn't a one-time effort, either. The car must evolve with the changing whims of the public, and looks can become dated. The Ford Thunderbird, for instance, went through eleven generations, and the car's appearance changed each time. Some were more fine tuning — this fourth-gen T-bird isn't that much different than the third generation — while others were more radical.
One Size Does Not Fit All
In order to make a model attractive to as large an audience as possible, different trim levels are used to sell to people with different tastes and price points. For instance, this third-generation Cortina GXL (for Grand eXtra Luxury) made for the British audience had five different trim levels: the base Cortina, the XL (for eXtra Luxury), the XLE (eXtra Luxury Edition), The GT (Grand Touring) and the GXL (Grand eXtra Luxury). The Cortina XLE was available only in Australia and South Africa, adding geography to the list of reasons a properly established trim line can make a difference.
The March of Technology
If Ford had rested on its development of the moving assembly line, the company's name would be an answer to a trivia question but would remain only a footnote in history. Ford, however, has often been on the cutting edge of automotive technology, design, safety and engineering. The Thunderbird, for instance, was the first mass-produced vehicle with a supercharged V8 engine, the 1957 Skyliner had a retractable hardtop, the Lincoln Mark III was the first vehicle available with antilock brakes, and so on. It's easy to fall behind when it comes to tech, so Ford works to stay in front.
Mustang + Shelby = Magic
Say the words "Shelby Mustang" to anyone with an automotive appreciation and more than likely a smile will come to their lips, even if they're not a "Ford" person. The classic Shelby Mustang was a performance variant of the Mustang built by auto design legend Carroll Shelby and his team from 1965 through 1969. Often known as "Cobras," these cars resembled Shelby's original AC Cobra design, only this time realized in the Mustang frame. The second-generation Shelby Mustangs were made between 2005 and 2014, and the name shows up on various Mustang variants to this day.
Making a Collection Connection
For those with a love of all things automotive — and the money and space to make it happen — there's nothing like building a collection of cars that speaks to their appreciation of engineering and mechanical beauty. Because so many have been made, and there are so many iconic examples, Ford cars and trucks have become a mainstay for many collectors. Besides the obvious — Mustang! — there are several makes for which collectors search, including older F-Series trucks, classic Thunderbirds, Capris and, of course, getting their hands on a classic GT40 is the holy grail of collecting!
Generations of Fans
The Ford Motor Company has produced the "first" car for generations of drivers over the past century. For a lucky few, they bought a new Ford as their first car and drove it off the lot. For many, their first Ford was new to them, if not anyone else. Used cars, hand-me-downs and others have been many drivers' first road experience, and for them, the brand has a special place in their heart. Entire families describe themselves as "Ford" families and are, shall we say, quite adamant about that. Whatever the case, for millions of people, the love of Ford runs deep in America — and around the world!
The Face of Ford
The Ford Motor Company logo is one of the most recognizable in the world. There are questions about when this logo first appeared on the company's vehicles (a different logo was used in the beginning), but the image we all know today hasn't changed much over the last century. The typeface isn't, as some believe, Henry Ford's writing; it was written by Ford's long-time friend Childe Harold Wills. The oval appeared in 1912, giving the logo the iconic shape it has to this day. The company has almost redesigned it a number of times, but in the end, tradition won out.
A Ford for Every Occasion
One of Ford's biggest strengths is finding a way to develop vehicles for almost any use a driver would have. The company isn't known strictly for its cars or its trucks or its SUVs; it's a master of all forms of automotive design. Whatever the customer has needed, Ford has historically been there with a vehicle that will help them get the job done, whether it be hauling families or cargo. With a range of vehicles, from the inexpensive to the top-of-the-line racing machines built only for a select few, Henry Ford's company has produced vehicles for every use and for all walks of life.
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