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Cars & Stripes: 1946

Cars & Stripes: 1946

Dearborn, Michigan, 1946. "Ford Rouge B-Building. Cars leaving assembly line." Ansco color transparency from the Ford Motor Co. photographic archives. View full size.

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Worst car

My dad went in the service before the United States entered the war. When he got out of the Navy in 1946 he bought a new 1946 Ford. It was the only new car he ever bought, and he told me it was the worst car he ever bought.

My eyes were drawn to the incandescent lighting on that assembly line. That would be really dim in there when the sun went down.

What's The Difference?

The obvious difference between the 1946 and the '47 & '48 Ford is the location of the front parking lights; but can does anyone know how to tell a '47 from a '48. I also agree with the above poster that the 1949 Ford was the first modern car.

Before the first new car

My dad, born in 1941, has said many times over the years that the 1949 Ford was the first "new" car that he ever saw, the warmed-over 1942 model being sufficient to satisfy pent-up demand until then. Of course, I know that the 1947 Studebaker was also new, but that fact doesn't compete with childhood memory, and he was 6 then, rather than 8, which is significant.

A couple of years ago, I got behind an Acura with a Bush-Quayle '88 sticker on it, and my first thought was, even though I'm a lifelong Democrat who voted for Dukakis, if I bought a vintage Acura with that sticker, I'd be inclined to keep it.

My second thought was, "Wait, there's such a thing as a vintage Acura?" Yes, indeed there is. I couldn't remember what year Acuras were introduced, so I looked it up, and realized I have friends with advanced degrees who were born into a world that already had Acuras in it.

The only parallel I can imagine to my own generation is that of a Studebaker being a new car. They ceased production 17 months before I was born. My first awareness of Studebakers was of Fozzie Bear driving one in the Muppet Movie. Wait, no. I had the Matchbox Lark Wagonaire a few years before the Muppet Movie came out.

Totally irrelevant side note: looking at those weak bare incandescent bulbs, and the generous daylighting windows, it's not hard to see why people thought Daylight Savings Time would save energy. It makes absolutely no sense now, in this era of windowless workplaces.

I'll take it

Color and style probably meant little to returning GIs in 1946. Fords, and their low-priced competitors from Chevy and Plymouth, sold like nickel beer.

For 1947, Ford changed to round parking lights and moved them down below the headlights. The grilles no longer wore red painted highlights as seen in the photo. These were running changes, not strictly linked to the model year.

No change until 1949

The 1946, 1947, and 1948 Fords all looked quite the same, except for some minor grille changes that only an expert could identify. But then came "The New Ford" for 1949, and body styles changed forever and for better.

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