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1950-1959 Ford Country Squire

1950 Ford Country Squire

Sales brochures proclaimed that the 1950 Ford station wagon was "50 Ways Finer." Some of the improvements were extremely minor, but given the success of the 1949 model, they could afford to be.

The station wagon incorporated many of the engineering refinements and minor styling alterations ordained for the 1950 model year, but otherwise, it picked up pretty much where the previous year's wagon left off.

1951 Ford Country Squire side view
Starting in 1950, the lower tailgate on the Ford
Country Squire was metal, despite its "woody" look.

At introduction time, the car was advertised as the Custom DeLuxe station wagon, a member of Ford's top-rung model range. But come spring, advertisements began touting "The new Ford 'Country Squire' station wagon" (though the name did not appear anywhere on the car).

This move toward giving the Ford wagon a separate identity had a little more going for it than just a copywriter's whim. The debut of the name accompanied an important change in the car.

Up to then, station wagons had a fixed front seat, plus middle and rear seats that had to be unbolted and removed when more cargo space was needed. This obviously took time and limited passenger capacity until the seats could be reinstalled.

With the Country Squire, Ford switched to a fold-down center-seat arrangement. To attain the largest possible floor space, the third-row seat still had to be fully removed, albeit without the use of tools. Then, the middle-row seat cushion was pivoted on its base and rotated forward before the seatback was lowered to fill the gap. (Ford claimed the whole process took less than three minutes to complete.)

With the seats laid flat and the tailgate lowered, a linoleum-covered cargo floor 109 inches long was achieved. Maximum width was 62.5 inches, but there was a loss of a full 18 inches around the rear wheelhouses. The Country Squire could hold up to eight people, the same as before the switch.

Like most other 1950 Fords, the Country Squire was available with a choice of standard 95-horsepower 226-cid inline six-cylinder engine or an optional 100-horsepower V-8, both L-heads. The only transmission choice was a three-speed manual, but it could be ordered with extra-cost overdrive.

Among the 50 improvements Ford claimed for the year were alterations that made the V-8 run quieter, a new torsional stabilizer for the front suspension, and an upgraded steering linkage.

Station wagon buyers had nine paint colors from which to choose, which brightened up the outside of the Country Squire, but little was done for the passenger compartment, continuing with the tan leather and vinyl seating arrangements as seen in the year before.

Upholstery wasn't the only thing that separated the station wagon from other Ford passenger cars. Rear springs had two additional leaves, rear-wheel track was wider, the brake-lining area was greater, a 19-gallon fuel tank replaced the 16-gallon tank seen in sedans, final-drive ratios (3.92:1 standard, 4.27:1 with overdrive) were more aggressive, and wider 7.10×15 six-ply tires were used.

Prices actually fell for the 1950 model year, dropping to a starting price of $2,107 with the V-8. Then, too, the price difference between the V-8 and six had been reduced, allowing the economically equipped Country Squire to promote a base price of $2,028.

There were a few other changes that helped keep down the tab for Ford's most expensive model. At the start of the model year, the tailgate-mounted spare tire was left to face the elements as the painted metal cover used in 1949 was deleted.

In April 1950, a running production change brought in a painted stamped-metal tailgate to replace the wooden unit. Also, the bright molding around the windshield was replaced by a plain rubber seal.

Ford had good reasons to cut costs. Like a slingshot, demand for the all-steel four-door wagon from Chevrolet far surpassed Ford by more than 7-to-1 for 1950. On top of it all, the six-cylinder Chevy DeLuxe Styleline wagon was listed at $1,994. Plymouth, too, was posing problems with its metal-bodied two-door Suburban, which debuted in 1949. A fancier Special version was added for 1950; together they accounted for 34,457 sales. (Plymouth also ran off 2,057 of its last four-door wood-body wagons.)

Model-year production of the Ford station wagon fell to 22,929, although that was in a more normal 12-month selling season. But despite seeing an actual monthly increase in production, the station wagon accounted for about 1.9 percent of Ford's total output for the model year because gains for the other Ford models had been more dramatic.

See what improvements Ford made to the 1951 Country Squire on the next page.

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