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Driveway Drama: 1954

Dearborn, Michigan. "1954 Ford Mainline two-door sedan." A thrifty ride for the suburban bride. Color transparency from the Ford Motor Co. photographic archives. View full size.

Dearborn, Michigan. "1954 Ford Mainline two-door sedan." A thrifty ride for the suburban bride. Color transparency from the Ford Motor Co. photographic archives. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Missed something

Did the photographer intentionally leave the weeds in the driveway cracks, or was this left intentionally to show this is a real home?

[This was back before the Internet and "comments," when nobody cared about crack weeds. - Dave]

Not to nitpick

... but the dormer needs to be scraped and painted. Just sayin'.

Dad had two

My father had both 1955 and '56 Fords. I have no idea why, but the two were completely different. I think that neither had power steering but the ‘55 took serious muscle to guide. It was also almost impossible to start in a Missouri winter, while the ‘56 took only a couple of foot pumps to roar to life.

Not so random locations

TimeAndAgainPhoto's publicity shot locations map shows a suspicious clustering around golf courses. Nice job if you can get it.

Like a beautiful blank canvas

What an appealing photo! I really am surprised by how attractive the car is in this color and minimalist trim. I also love the brickwork on the visible corner of the house. It resembles the Georgian style buildings on the campus where I work. The car also beckons as a sort of canvas upon which a modern day owner might put some fetching details or mechanical modifications. I find myself wishing I could just step into the scene.

Where's the bonfire

That car looks like a great big marshmallow. Excuse me while I get a stick. But good call by davidk: The driver's fingernails should be varnished blood red.

Re: White car paint

Myself, I'd be tempted to paint the fingernails bright red for contrast with those whitewalls and the main body color.

White car paint

... was a really new thing in 1950, as plain as it looks to us now. Still, I'd be tempted to paint the wheels bright red for contrast with those whitewalls and the main body color.

It's a Wonder!

As a died-in-the wool motorhead, even I have to admit: That's the most white-bread car I've ever seen.

[Psst. "Dyed." - Dave]

Correct, Dave! I'll never read Ngaio Marsh again! Thanks!

One of 123,329

Mainline was the entry level Ford for 1954. Since two passengers are set to embark and the car has been tarted-up with whitewall tires ($27 extra), I will assume that the vehicle shown is a two door sedan rather than a business coupe, which has no back seat. The basic six cylinder, three-speed manual two door sedan was priced at $1651 from the factory; the front seat only version was $103 less. Very few options were available for the Mainline. Overdrive, Ford-O-Matic transmission, heater/defroster, passenger-side sun visor and armrest, etc., were available at extra cost.

You could shop upmarket in the Customline or Crestline series. At the top of the heap was the Sunliner V8 convertible at $2241. Plus options, of course. If you want to stay one step ahead of the Joneses, see your local Lincoln/Mercury dealer.

[Like the caption says, it's the two-door sedan. - Dave]

Power of the Purse

This ad photo, populated only by women, reveals Ford's understanding of the role of women in major purchase decisions. Meanwhile, Packard was still crowing "Ask the Man Who Owns One."

Look at what happened to them.

[Strictly speaking, these were promotional or publicity photos -- distributed with press releases, etc. -- and not used in advertising. - Dave]

Bottom of the line

... was Mainline, as louJudson mentioned he'd never heard of. It had identical drivetrains as the more trimmed up models all the way up to Crestline. This one has the base six cylinder engine as there is no "Y"-8 emblem at the front of the front fender just above the decorative trim. This was the first year of a redesigned overhead valve V-8 engine to replace the 30 plus year old flathead V-8 and it was described as being in a "Y" configuration for greater durability. This one makes do with the third year of a redesigned overhead valve six cylinder that was leagues ahead of both Chevrolet's ancient Stovebolt and Plymouth's flathead six. As for transmissions, the trunk tells the tale. No script means standard, but Ford-O-Matic and Overdrive get their script on the right side of the trunk handle. There's a certain beauty to the trim-free lines that the higher line models don't enjoy. The only model lower than this one would have been a Mainline Business Coupe which had no back seat.

[That black rubber windshield molding does have a certain minimalist charm. - Dave]

Publicity Shot Locations Map

I thought I'd try to determine if Ford's publicity folks favored a specific neighborhood for their shots by mapping them out.

If so, it might be possible to determine the location of the elusive Ford Customline's backdrop. No dice.

Regarding stains

I did the same thing when my older cousin brought over his brand new 1956 Thunderbird with the hard top, and took my brother and me for a ride. I tossed my box of crayons on the rear window shelf. It was a hot day. I am sure that was the last time he took us for any rides.

Good looking Ford in '54!

I have always liked the design of the 1954 Ford. Thanks for posting this color photograph. I noticed Ford used Firestone tires at that time.

Mileage Maker Six

Devoid of V-8 badging this bare-bones Mainline appears to have been equipped with Ford's Mileage Maker Six. Introduced in 1952 in form, and with a 3.62 x 3.60-inch bore and stroke, a 7.2:1 compression ratio and a one-barrel Holley carburetor, 1954's updated version made 115hp at 3,900 rpm and 193-lbs.ft. of torque at 2,200 rpm. This six-cylinder was noted for its economy, averaging 25.1 mpg, and despite being down two cylinders on the optional V-8, their performance was very similar, making the six a viable engine choice for the frugal minded. (USA average retail gasoline price in '54 was 29 cents a gallon)

My only quibble

Both that cutie and the car she’s in would look a lot better if she had bright red nail polish.

Driveway reality

What a dose of gutsy reality, those weeds in the cracks! Ford was really pushing the boundaries here. The bright, sharp clarity suggests it's a large format transparency.

[8x10. - Dave]

A stain in my memory

My Army officer dad had a 1949 Dodge when I was born and we took that one to Germany in 1951. He sold it before we left in '54 and picked up a 1954 Ford two-tone (blue and white) two-door when we got to New York. Like an idiot, I left an 8-crayon Crayola box on the shelf behind the back seat and it melted completely in the summer sun on our trip down to Georgia. That stain in our days-old car was there for the rest of time that we owned it and I was never allowed to forget it.

Attention to Detail

They may not have removed the weeds from the concrete joints, but they paid attention when it might make a difference. The made sure the hubcaps were aligned so FORD was horizontal and could be read easily.


Thanks, JW Wright - the house got even better, being on a coveted corner lot, AND a trip around that corner shows the rodent-themed weathervane on the cupola of the neighbor's garage that appears over 3640 Eastham's breezeway.

Flawed but Fabulous

Advertising, regardless of the era, always has a distinctly staged appearance, and is too often edited to a surreal and, for me, uncomfortable perfection. This house, rather than the car, invited close inspection, which revealed blistered paint on the dormer, weeds growing in the concrete joints, and the top of a weathervane over the breezeway roofline. The image is better for the presence of flaws.


I've never heard of a Ford Mainline! Nor seen one until now. Seems they go for 9k to 19k today, restored. They looked good back then. Today, not so much.

3640 Eastham Road

Well preserved.

[But a Chevy in the driveway -- horrors! - Dave]

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