1952 Ford Country Squire

Beginning in 1952, the Country Squire would be a Ford station wagon, not the Ford station wagon. That's because there were now three of them, all with steel bodies: the two-door, six-passenger Ranch Wagon; the four-door, eight-passenger Country Sedan; and the four-door, eight-seat Squire. Respectively, they each brought a wagon to the Mainline, Customline, and Crestline series that replaced the former DeLuxe and Custom.

The completely redesigned 1952 Fords were new from nose to tail. Up front, the single-spinner theme returned to the grille, accompanied by headlights mounted in body-color rings that projected from the fenders. Between them sat a flatter hood. At the rear were protruding round "jet-ray" taillights -- a touch destined to be used in one form or another on Fords into the mid 1970s.

1952 Ford Country Squire front view
Di-Noc panels now simulated the look of wood
for the 1952 Ford Country Squire.

One design element that might have seemed like a step back was the addition of a raised accent panel on the rear quarters (and rear doors of four-door models) to simulate fenders in the otherwise slab-sided body. All models sported a broad "Curva-Lite" one-piece windshield and shared a 115-inch wheelbase that was an inch longer than in previous years.

Once the basic design of the two- and four-door sedans had been established, there was a question of what to do for the station wagons. The answer came from the Body Development Studio under the direction of Gordon Buehrig, the onetime Cord designer who came to Ford in 1949.

With the goal of maximum interchangeability of parts with the sedans, Buehrig's small team took the basic shape and added an elongated one-piece roof. An ingenious counterbalanced hinge system combined with a pair of scissor-type hinges automatically locked the liftgate in its upright position.

The fold-down tailgate was also easily put into position and everything was operated by means of a simple pushbutton handle. The spare tire was moved inside and out of the way under a panel in the cargo floor.

1952 Ford Country Squire
A tan-and-brown interior
color combo was the only
choice for the 1952 Squire.

The Country Sedan and Country Squire were identical in many ways, right down to their shared use of "smart new Mahogany and Milan Straw" vinyl upholstery. But where the Country Sedan had Customline-style chrome trim on its sides, the Squire instead boldy invoked the woody look most of the rest of Detroit was desperately seeking to abandon.

Specially developed Di-Noc woodgrain transfers simulated a rich, grained mahogany effect in an area from just ahead of the front doors to the rear quarters and on the tailgate. These areas and the lower-body accent line were edged in real wood -- preshaped and laminated birch and maple.

In addition, a simulated light-wood finish was also applied to the side window frames and the liftgate. Except for the genuine wood accent trim, which would be replaced soon enough, the "modern" Country Squire was born.

Wagons measured just under 198 inches from bumper to bumper, making them a full 10 inches shorter than their predecessor. Unfortunately, this reduction affected interior capacity; in the four-door models, full load length to the tailgate was down to 102.4 inches. Maximum interior width also suffered a 3.5-inch loss.

Rear tread was reduced to the same 56 inches seen on all other Ford passenger cars. At 74.3 inches, the Country Squire was fractionally wider than other Fords due to its side trim.

While the Country Sedan was offered in a full spectrum of 10 factory colors and three two-tone combinations, the Country Squire was limited to just six solid shades specially selected to complement the woody look.

This year, wagons shared the same new dash design as other Fords, meaning they were finally able to offer key starting, a feature that had debuted on coupes and sedans in 1951. Suspended brake and clutch pedals were another new feature found in Ford interiors.

Ford trotted out an all-new 101-horsepower ohv six for 1952, but it wasn't available in four-door wagons. Their lone engine was the Strato-Star V-8, effectively the same 239-cid flathead as before, but now advertised as producing 110 horsepower thanks to a compression boost. Three-speed and overdrive-equipped wagons got new axle ratios, again higher numerically than in other Fords.

The broadening of choice did wonders for Ford station wagon sales. Production shot up to 49,919, but two-thirds of that was sown up by the price-leading Ranch Wagon. Of the remainder, just 5,426 were top-end Country Squires, still the most expensive Fords. Their $126 premium over fundamentally identical Country Sedans might have given some shoppers pause -- for the time being.

Find out about the 1953 Ford Country Squire in the next section.

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