January 8, 2001

Ford Forty-Nine concept
Click for larger image

Detroit Auto Show
Ford’s 40’s retro concept:
Ford Forty-Nine!

At a media preview January 7th, Ford
introduced the Ford Forty-Nine custom coupe concept
car, a concept based on the ’49 Ford with its
radically new “slab sides,” integrated body and
fenders, independent front suspension and rear quarter
windows that opened. Ford says the Forty-Nine concept
harkens back to the romance of a Friday night at the
drive-in or bowling alley, listening to rock-and-roll
and cruising “the strip” in a chopped and channeled
custom car.

“The inspiration for the Forty-Nine concept comes from
the passion and excitement of the original, combined
with the imagination of people across America who
customized the car and turned it into what they
thought a really great car should be,” said J Mays,
Ford Motor Company vice president of Design at the
vehicle’s introduction on Sunday.

“The concept melds together many of the custom car
designs from the 1950s as well as elegant cues and
shapes from some of the great Italian designs, such as
Ghia.” As soon as it was introduced in New York City
amid much fanfare in June 1948, the ’49 Ford became a
runaway sensation. As the first all-new, postwar Ford
design, the car attracted 1.3 million orders even
before it officially went on sale at dealerships. The
design was so acclaimed that it won the prestigious
Fashion Academy Award in 1949 and repeated the rare
honor again in 1950.

Ford Forty-Nine concept
Click for larger image

Back to the Future – all-glass upper body structure

To create the all-new concept Forty-Nine, Ford
designers went back to the car’s roots – simple
shapes, clean body panels and modern conveniences.

The Forty-Nine concept’s hyper-smooth appearance is
achieved by an all-glass upper body structure with
totally concealed pillars and windshield wipers. The
exterior finish is velvety black with bright chrome
wrapping around the greenhouse and modest chrome
accents elsewhere, such as its badging and 20-inch
chrome wheels.

Clean, simple, design cues are conveyed in the rounded
high intensity discharge (HID) and projector-beam
front lighting. In the rear, sleek, narrow,
wrap-around LED tail lamps make a distinctive

A Cantilevered, bench-style front seat is

Ford Forty-Nine concept
Click for larger image

The interior also is a modern interpretation of the
original car’s simple design cues. A cantilevered,
bench-style front seat is power-actuated. A floating
center console runs the entire length of the interior,
giving the impression of four-passenger bucket
seating, while also serving to stiffen the vehicle’s
structure. The floating console houses the five-speed
shift lever and ventilation for both front and rear
seat passengers.

The interior color theme is two-tone: black and
sienna. The black leather seats have sienna leather
seat backs. Sienna leather also accents the upper door
trim panels, instrument panel and package tray. The
armrest is wrapped in charcoal leather. The lower door
trim panels are finished in satin metallic silver. The
silver carpet inserts are accented with chrome rails
running the front to rear.

The car’s primary gauges are contained within a single
round instrument binnacle – similar to the production
’49 and hot rods of the era. The analog tachometer
takes centre stage and is surrounded by the electronic
speedometer. Audio and climate controls are presented
in a flip-out panel located in the instrument panel,
just ahead of the shifter. Their respective readouts,
along with temperature, oil and fuel gauges, are
displayed on either side of the centrally mounted
clock, at the base of the windshield.

Primary gauges

Ford Forty-Nine concept
A two-tone, leather-wrapped steering wheel features
cruise and radio controls on a metal ring, reminiscent
of the “horn-ring” popular in the 1950s. The rear view
mirror is positioned along a prominent “wind-split”
rod, which extends from the instrument panel to the
front header. The mirror can be adjusted up or down
along the length of the rod, which serves multiple
purposes. It adjusts to the needs of drivers of all
sizes and also looks striking. The rod also serves to
house the radio antenna, which extends through the

The audio system features a multi-disc CD changer and
a strategically placed speaker network, anchored by a
massive sub-woofer, all driven by a 200-watt power

Under the hood

The engine bay is finished in satin black, stainless
and chrome metal finishes throughout. The radiator and
its associated structure have been re-oriented to take
full advantage of the design opportunities on the
engine itself. The intake manifolds are finished in
satin metal and valve covers in gloss black and
accented with polished stainless steel. Filtered
interior air inlets are located at the trailing edge
of the front wheel opening, and dual stainless steel
exhausts penetrate the rear bumper fascia.

Ford Forty-Nine concept
Click for larger image

The engine bay is not only cosmetic: The chrome
“Powered by Thunderbird” badge on the side fender
gives a hint at the powerplant under the hood. The
Forty-Nine concept is powered by a Thunderbird
3.9-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V8, tuned to fit the car’s
appearance and refined muscle.

“Like the Thunderbird, the Forty-Nine reminds us of
the love affair that generations have had with the
open road and the automobile,” says Mays. “Both of
these cars remind us of a romance and a passion of the
American touring car that is just as thrilling today
as it was 50 years ago.”




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