Ford Customline

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Ford Customline

1952 - 1956
Straight 6 and V8
3.9 - 4.8 liter
to 193 bhp (144 kW)
3 spd. man and auto
Top Speed:
Number Built:
3 star
Immediately following the war most manufacturers, understandably, continued with the manufacture of designs dating back to the previous decade.

Ford’s first and much anticipated new model line up arrived in 1949, however the 1952 revision, while based heavily on the 1949 design, heralded a new design direction.

Immediately evident was the use of a one-piece windshield, although the introduction of the straight 6 “Mileage Maker” was arguably an even bigger advance in technological innovation.

Joining the 3.9 liter “Flathead” V8 (110 hp / 82 kW), the new 6 introduced an overhead valve arrangement, and while slighly down in cubic capacity to the engine it replaced (3.5 vs. 3.7 liters), the new engine boasted more power, more torque and, best of all, better fuel consumption.

The model line-up was changed in an attempt to clearly identify the model placement of each. The base model was now called the “Mainline”, the mid-level the “Customline”, and the top of the range model known as the “Crestline”, which included the Sunliner convertible, Victoria hardtop and Country Squire wagon.

The interior featured what Ford referred to as a “flight style” control panel, with new pedals suspended from below the dash. The grille sported a single center "bullet" surrounded by a chrome ring as well as "jet intake" corner markers.

In 1953 Ford introduced power steering and power assisted brakes across the range, options previously reserved to the more up-market Mercury’s and Lincoln’s. The center grille bullet lost its ring and was now flanked by vertical black stripes, while the corner markers were plain rectangular lights rather than the circular "intakes".

All 1953 Fords featured commemorative steering wheels marking the company's 50th anniversary. William Clay Ford paced the Indianapolis 500 in a Sunliner convertible with a dummy Continental tire kit. This was also the last year for real wood trim on the Country Squire wagon.

The long-lived Flathead V8 engine was replaced in 1954 by an overhead valve “Y Block” unit, marking the end of an era. This engine produced 130 hp (97 kW), and was fitted with a 2-barrel carburetor, however there was a Holley four barrel carby made available to law enforcement agencies, and this bumped up the performance of the Y Block V8 to an impressive 160 hp (119 kW).

Another new addition was the "Victoria Skyliner" sedan, which featured an acrylic glass panel over the front half of the roof. A snap-in sunshade was a desirable option. The woody Country Squire wagon now used artificial fiberglass panels to bring about a reduced manufacturing cost, however it remained the most-expensive Ford. Two more desirable options were offered for the first time in 1954: power windows and a four-way power seat.

In 1955 Ford again updated the range, something required if they were to continue to compete with Chevrolet. The underpinnings were pretty much taken from the ’52 Ford’s, however the wonderful “Mileage Maker” straight 6 engine was bumped up to 223 ci (3.7 liters) for 120 hp (89 kW) and the new-for-1954 Y-block V8 was now offered in two sizes: Standard Fords used a 272 ci (4.5 liter) version with 162 hp (121 kW), but the large 292 ci (4.8 liter) unit from the Thunderbird was also offered, boasting 193 hp (144 kW).

Apart from the engine changes, customers were sure to notice the new "Fairlane" top-line trim, while a new "Crown Victoria" style featured a chrome "basket handle" across the familiar (and continued) "Victoria" hardtop roof. The company now boasted three different rooflines, the tall two-pillar Mainline, Customline, and Fairlane, lower chrome-pillar Crown Victoria, and pillarless hardtop Victoria.

The "Skyliner" acrylic glass roof was still offered, this time only on the Crown Victoria model. For the first time, Ford customers could purchase their new cars with air conditioning. The system included a condenser unit in the trunk, plus a pair of air ducts in the trunk and clear tubes which run from the rear package shelf into the headliner, where one found the air ducts. The system was very costly and few units were sold.

The egg-crate grille featured on the 1955 cars was widened into a series of rectangles for 1956, but this subtle exterior change was nothing compared to Ford's adoption of a 12-volt electrical system across the line. The Crown Victoria Skyliner's sales were plummeting with just 603 made, and it would be replaced by a convertible the next year. A new addition at midyear was the "Town Victoria" 4-door hardtop model which, along with the new Customline 2-door hardtop, were meant to compete with the Chevrolet Bel Air. For Australian's however, the lineup was restricted to the four-door sedan, locally designed Mainline utility and station wagon.

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