The 1941 Ford and Mercury got all-new styling and some engineering
improvements. The two now shared the same bodyshell for reasons that
have never been made entirely clear, but probably to raise Ford quality
while lowering Mercury production costs.
The 1941 Mercury wagon greatly resembled
the styling of Ford.
A few years later, Tom McCahill, road tester for Popular Mechanix magazine, quite correctly noted that "the Mercury has always been the Ford that Ford would have built if there hadn't been such a thing as price competition."
Ford's wheelbase expanded by two inches to 114, Mercury's to 118. The 1941 Ford and Mercury now shared the same frame that had been developed earlier for the Mercury. Its main advantage was that it virtually eliminated Ford's famous body flexing and rattling, making any Ford car built on it as quiet as anything coming out of General Motors or Chrysler, at least for the first few years.
There were many chassis refinements for both makes, including spring lengths, rates, and deflections, plus changes in shackling, shocks, and an improved stabilizer bar -- but still transverse springing. It is important to remember that when you are talking about Fords and Mercurys from this period, you are talking about the same car under slightly different trim.
Ford's 1941 bodies remain controversial to this day. Some would call them "fat" (they were larger and wider than before), and few could say that the front-end design was an improvement over the classic look of 1939 and 1940. However, at the time it was designed, Ford stylists thought it quite attractive.
The interior of the 1941
Mercury wagon was
The 1941 Mercury in retrospect was infinitely better looking due primarily to the sharper grille, more in keeping with 1939-1940 styling than Ford's approach. One reason the designers could put a more attractive front end on the Mercury was because they had an extra four inches to work with -- Mercury's longer wheelbase rode from the firewall forward, allowing for a longer hood and front fenders. Bodies were identical from the firewall back.
It's not hard to figure out who designed the 1941 Mercury because there were only about 20 people in Ford styling at the time. E.T. "Bob" Gregorie was the boss; Martin Regitko did body surface development; John H. Walker worked on instrument panels; Bruno Kolt designed grilles and sheetmetal; Willys P. Wagner shaped the bumpers, lights, and exterior hardware; Walter Kruke concentrated on interior trim; and an incredible old German, Dick Beneicke, served as the head clay modeler.
All of them are gone now except for Gregorie and apprentices Ross Cousins, Tucker Madawick, and John Najjar. Lawrence Sheldrick was chief engineer. Gregorie refused to work under him -- he worked for Edsel Ford and nobody else.
Some of the body features (again shared with Ford) were door bottoms that flared out over the running boards, allowing for wider seats and interiors; two inches more headroom; two-piece front fenders (three-piece at first); and more glass area. The front pillars were made slimmer and the windshield was widened, deepened, and angled more steeply.
Parking lights were separate and set atop the fenders for greater visibility. Headlight bezels were redesigned. In all closed Mercurys, including the two-door Sedan, the rear-quarter windows opened out. In 1940, the Club Coupe rear windows had rolled down, and there had been no rear-quarter vent windows in the two-door Sedan. Front vent wings were now crank-operated in both the Mercury and Ford, and in closed cars the ventilation wing support bars rolled down with the windows.
On the next page, learn more about the complicated relationship between Mercury and Ford.
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