The vehicle featured in this article is a fine looking 1949 Ford Woody Wagon.

1949 ford woody wagon
1949 Ford Woody Wagon

The 1949 models debuted at a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in June 1948. The year 1949 was a critical one for the Ford Motor Company and in some ways was a do or die year for the company.

The 1949 Ford’s represented the first restyling since the end of the war and it was important for Ford to produce a winner. The 1949 Ford’s were produced in either a base or custom series. Both were available with six or eight cylinder engines.

This 1949 Ford Woody Wagon is a beauty in every way with it’s classic wood sides, Flathead V-8 under the hood, and that new bullet-nose which has now become a legend. This type Ford model is of extreme rarity since less than one out of every 35 Fords produced that year was a two-door station wagon.

The Ford Woody Wagon was Ford’s most costly vehicle for the 1949 model year.

New 1949 Ford Styling

ford woodyIt is often said that the 1949 Ford started the era of more modern streamlined designs.

The legend is that the ’49 Ford was designed on the kitchen table of a former Studebaker designer, with the help of his Studebaker design buddies. Ford’s top management was so overwhelmed that they bought the design over their own in-house effort, and the rest is history.

A New Design Was Critical for Ford

At the close of World War II, the Ford Motor Company was losing millions of dollars. Top management felt that the 1949 Ford, styled by their own “Bob” Gregorie, was too big and heavy to turn the company’s fortunes around. That design ended up as the 1949 Mercury.  Then a crash program was put into motion to come up with a revolutionary 1949 Ford to be introduced in June 1948.

The engineering “package” was laid down by Harold T. Youngren, Ford’s corporate engineering vice president. With the exception of the car’s wheelbase, dimensions were virtually identical to the 1947 Studebaker Champion. In fact, Ford engineering went out and bought one or more 1947 Studebaker Champions and studied them inside and out. At the same time, Gregorie was instructed to come up with an entirely new 1949 Ford design in competition with George Walker’s outside industrial design firm. But after a few weeks, Walker was not coming up with anything real promising.

Walker’s fortunes changed dramatically when he was approached by Richard Caleal who had just been let go from Studebaker styling. Walker promised Caleal a $50,000-a-year job at Ford if he could come up with a winning design in just three weeks. Caleal accepted the challenge and asked several of his Studebaker styling friends if they could help him. They agreed to help. An automobile was designed and constructed in quarter-size clay form by moonlighters working on Caleal’s kitchen table in Mishawaka, Indiana. This all took place in three short weeks.

Caleal presented the model, painted bright blue, to George Walker, very much liked what he saw. Meanwhile, Walker came up with his own quarter-size model done by Joe Oros and Elwood Engel. The model actually was very similar to the Caleal model. Both models, in quarter-size plaster form, were presented to the Ford Operating Committee.The Committee ended up selecting the Caleal model. This model, along with Bob Gregorie’s was then brought up to full size at Ford. The Caleal model won out and went on to become the 1949 Ford that most say saved the Ford Motor Company.

1949 Ford Woody Wagon Specifications

The 1949 Ford Woody Wagon was built with a 239 Cubic Inch Flathead V-8 engine delivering 100 HP.

1949 ford design
Entirely new design for 1949

Transmissions offered were a three speed manual or overdrive four speed manual.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drums.

Dimensions were an overall length of 208 inches…width of 71.7 inches…height of 66.9 inches and a wheelbase of 114.0 inches. Curb weight was 3,750 lbs.

See these additional articles at Auto Museum Online…..

1936 Ford Woodie Wagon

1950 Willys Station Wagon

References for this article included…..Ford Motor Company: The Greatest Corporate Turnaround In U.S. History by Gerhard Geyer…..The Complete History of Ford Motor Company by authors Richard M. Langworth and The Editors of Consumers Guide….The Ford Century by Russ Banham.

1949 Ford Collector Cars

As mentioned above, 1949 was a milestone year for the Ford Motor Company. The model year represented the first new styling since the end of the war and it was also a financially critical time for the company.

ford classic woodies
49 Ford Dash

The 1949 styling was a significant change from past years and proved to be quite popular.

The 1949 Ford Woody Wagons were the most expensive Ford vehicles that year and have proved to be very rare today. Very fine looking restored examples with original parts like the one featured here are costly today but in our opinion not overly valued.

As of this date we see very nicely restored models in the $40,000 to $70,000 range.

(Article and Photos copyright Auto Museum Online)