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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Yank Tank: 1959

Yank Tank: 1959

In 1958 my father worked for Ford and our family was transferred from Windsor, Ontario, to Geelong and Melbourne, Australia, for five years. Ford Australia cars were mostly British models, such as Zephyrs and Consuls. The Falcon was introduced and it took direct aim at General Motors Holden products. There were a few "Yank Tanks" around, and the 1959 Fairlane 500 would have been in that category. This Kodachrome was taken by my father on what appears to be a tour of Ford dealers, as Coates Motors was located in Bairnsdale, 280 km east of Melbourne. There is a rain deflector on the driver's side window -- Victoria state law still required hand signals. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5


Rain deflector, but no outside mirror? The things we take for granted!

My grandad's 57 Chevy had maual turn signals - you had to turn them off by hand! Automatic turn signal canceling was an optional extra.

59 Ford

I have a pale blue 59 Ford that I have been driving for many years


My dad had one of these. Two tone pink of all colors.
We drove across country in it in 1960, the longest driving vacation of my life.

He PAID to have the air conditioning removed.
All I can think is insanity.


The car on the right, closest to camera GSF-777 is a 1957 Customline, the second one GYW-910 is a 1958 Customline. Most the Fords that made it out here were the Customline model and they proved very popular both as a daily drive and on the race track; a 56 model is still seen in the historic class. First car I owned was a 56 model, bought it for $300, used to squeeze 9 in it on a Saturday night; great fun.

Re: The world's most beautifully proportioned car

I'm quite sure the gold medal award from the Comité Français de l'Elegance, indeed given at the Brussels World Fair, was aimed at the '58 model.

For one thing, the Brussels World Fair lasted from april 17 till october 19 in 1958. Typically, the new Fords were introduced in early to mid October (in the USA), and up to January elsewhere. I'm sure they would not have shown a car that no one was supposed to see, and before its true introduction date.

And furthermore, I have an old Belgian newspaper from 1958, with an ad from Ford showing a '58 model along with a caption boasting the gold medal award from the fair.

[A quick Google shows that the 1959 Fords were similarly honored. - Dave]

1955 Meteor = 1958 Australian Ford

Trivia: At first I thought that tri-toned white/pink/pink model to the right was a 1955 Meteor--the Canadian equivalent of Ford, which had its own grille and trim. Turns out that the 1958 Ford was "facelifted" with (presumably) leftover 1955 Meteor grilles.

Taking a Grille-ing, 1959 Canadian Meteor

Must be the lighting that makes the 1959 Australian grille inserts look like they could be pot metal castings, rather than stamped aluminum.
The US example is clearly stamped aluminum.
The 1959 Australian grille insert matches it in that it has four vertical rows and 21 stars across the first row. Probably the same.

But we have one more fine Ford family member now, that has to be examined.
The 1960 and 1961 grilles come from the Canadian Meteor. (Not a huge stretch to understand how that happened since the parts to assemble the Australian Fords were shipped from Canada, to Australia, not from the USA).

Not the Edsel

The Ford Zephry as used in the seminal British police show 'Z Cars' 1962-1978 which incidentally has one of the best theme tunes in TV history.

Fords Down Under/Up Over

Here's what I've been able to glean from the net.

Time Machine, pleeeease?

Oh how I long to climb into a time machine and just go visit there, even for only one afternoon. The colors, the cars, those globe top gas pumps...

As for the difference between the US and Australian "tank Fairlane": In Australia, 1959 was a very long year.
In the United States there were entirely different bodies on 1960 and 1961 full sized Fords. In Australia that same body was made for all 3 years. There are 1960 and 1961 versions of that same car.
I know that the grille insert of the 1960 and 1961 versions has a different pattern than the four pointed stars of the 1959, but I can't tell if this grille insert is entirely the same as on the US car, from just this distant shot.

One probable difference in Australia

The rear turn indicators of some American cars of that period used to flash the red brake light. In Australia they added an amber flasher. I have seen in years gone by a number of truly awful added-on turn indicators on the underside of the tips of the gull wings of 1959 Chevrolets. Truly tragic.

The world's most beautifully proportioned car.

According to The New York Times obit section of July 3, 1993, it was Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster and Francis Muldoon, among other roles) who came up with the slogan "the world's most beautifully proportioned car," for the 1959 Ford. He was working for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency at the time, as a copywriter on the Ford account.

The model did win an award for exceptional styling from the Comite Francais de l'Elegance (whatever that was) at the Brussels World's Fair, presumably in 1959. Alex Tremulis of Tucker fame was at Ford during the period the '59 was designed, and offered a different take: it was a worse mistake than the '58.

Am wondering if the right hand drive was the only thing that distinguished the car from its American counterpart.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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