With Ford locked into a three-year body-shell rotation, exterior changes for the 1951 Country Squire were headed by a "dual-spinner" grille design in place of the former central spinner. The hood ornament and bumper guards were new, and deep headlight bezels gave the lamps a recessed look.
While all other 1951 Fords received a splashy new dash and instruments, the Squire had to make do with a slightly retrimmed recycling of the 1950 design. It did accept the new steering wheel with delta-wing hub, though.
All other 1951 Fords got a flashy new dashboard,
but the Country Squire made do with a wood-toned
version of the previous year's panel.
Engines got a waterproof ignition system and steps were taken to quiet the six, but horsepower was unchanged. The big powertrain news was in the transmission department.
Starting in February 1951, Fords could be ordered with the Ford-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission developed by Borg-Warner. This $164 option was declared by many to be the best "clutchless" shifter on the market, but very few wagon buyers selected this item; it's estimated that fewer than 2,000 units were installed.
Other linewide improvements for the 1951 Ford Country Squire included "Automatic Posture Control" -- a front seat that raised when pulled forward and lowered when pushed back -- and "Automatic Ride Control" that included new shackles for the variable-rate rear springs and self-regulating shock absorbers.
Another major change was directed at cutting costs. Complete station wagon bodies had been coming from the Iron Mountain facility since the late 1930s -- and preshaped wagon-body parts even earlier than that. However, for 1951, Ford turned to the Ionia Body Company to build both Country Squire and Mercury station wagon bodies.
Ionia had long experience turning out woody wagons for General Motors. It was simply cheaper to outsource the labor-intensive work to a company set up to do exactly this kind of job.
An entirely new type of Ford station wagon was in the wings. As such, 1951 proved to be the end of an era at Ford. Never again would its wagons have wood sections integral to the body construction.
While Ford's total production was down this year by approximately 100,000 cars, Country Squire orders rose to 29,017 units. That was good enough to surpass Chevrolet, which witnessed a dramatic decrease in wagon sales to 23,586 for the year. (Plymouth production figures were combined for 1951-1952 and it's unknown how many of its 76,520 wagons from this period were from a specific year.)
Check out the next section for details on the 1952 Ford Country Squire.
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