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1957-1959 Ford Styling


1959 Ford Styling
For 1959, Ford styling grafted on new outer body panels and changed much of the 1957-1958 inner structure to create what it immodestly billed as "The World's Most Beautifully Proportioned Cars." The claim was debatable, to be sure, though Ford could point to its winning the Gold Medal for exceptional styling from the Comite Francais de l'Elegance at the Brussels World's Fair. Still, the new squared-off look was considered handsome at the time, and was so conservative next to the "bat-wing" 1959 Chevy that one might easily conclude the two longtime rivals were aiming at different markets.

1959 Ford styling
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Ford's 1959 styling evolved from wild to mild. Reverse-slant backlight, one of several gimmicky roof treatments favored by Dearborn in these years, was much in evidence early on.

The development of Ford's 1959 styling remains something of an enigma. The principal designer, "silent" Joe Oros, has never explained it, while the free-thinking Alex Tremulis, who was there at the time, once condemned the 1959 as a worse mistake than the 1958. Perhaps predictably, former company styling chief George Walker has claimed it to be the best-looking Ford ever done under his direction.

While it's hard to say what Ford product planners originally had in mind (other than loads of extra trunk space), they were evidently trying to make the 1959 more like Lincoln and Mercury in size as well as appearance. All models now rode the 118-inch wheelbase, which swelled overall length by five inches on wagons and closer to six on the low-line sedans. Width was up fractionally, as were curb weights, while trunk volume bloated by 11 cubic feet. Curving the front glass upward as well as to the sides increased windshield area by 29 percent, while the backlight was also higher and more noticeably curved.

1959 Ford Country Sedan wagon
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The 1959 Ford Country Sedan wagon models styling updates like the quad headlamps with "gullwing" eyebrows.

The 1959's freshened face featured quad headlamps with "gullwing" eyebrows above a shallow, full-width grille containing four rows of star-like ornaments. The front bumper was a conventional, but still massive, wraparound affair carrying two bullet-shaped outriggers for housing the turn signal/parking lamps. This was echoed in a cylindrical upper rear fender form extending from about mid-body, though Ford continued to resist finny excess, settling for subtle chrome-lined ridges atop the tubes. Bringing up the rear was a heavily sculptured "Flying V" back panel decorated by a full-width chrome molding on Fairlane 500s, a stubby gold-color chevron on Fairlanes, and a large Ford crest on the rest.

Finally, taillamps became round again, nestled in huge "jello-mold" reflectors that made for mile-away brightness. For some reason, ad types called them "Iris Eyes." There was the usual shuffling of colors and trim materials inside, plus a restyled dash with a large, square instrument cluster and the same basic layout as before. It was attractive, though the white-on-silver markings were difficult to decipher.

Ford initially fielded a leaner lineup for 1959. Custom 300 was now the base group, offering the same three sedans as the discontinued Custom, while Fairlane was reduced to two-door Club Sedan and four-door Town Sedan. Then, at mid-year, a T-Bird-style wide-quarter roof was grafted onto the four Fairlane 500 closed body styles to create a new top-shelf series called Galaxie, which also absorbed the convertible and retrac through a simple change of rear fender script. Curiously, all Galaxies wore Fairlane 500 rear deck i.d. The Ranchero was still around, but in its last year as a big-car derivative. For 1960, it would be based on the new Falcon compact.

On the next page, read about 1959 Ford features and specifications.

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