O f the several notable changes to the 1954 Ford passenger cars, one of the less-remembered is the addition of a four-door sedan to the Crestline series. For 1952 and 1953, the top-end Crestline lineup was home to the Sunliner convertible, Victoria two-door hardtop and wood-and-vinyl-trimmed Country Squire four-door station wagon. Moving forward to 1954, those models continued to use the same bodies and chassis.
Adding the common body style, which Ford called the Fordor, was a subtle recognition that a market existed for a taste of luxury in the low-priced field for the family that didn’t go for the sportier hardtops, convertibles and wagons. It was also a not-so-subtle recognition that Chevrolet did much the same thing in 1953 with its Bel Air four-door sedan. The Bel Air series also had a two-door sedan in its top series, something Ford would address in 1955.
In 1952 and 1953, the fanciest four-door sedan in the Ford line was the mid-level Customline. In the year before that, having a four-door sedan in the top series was common for Ford, but the demotion for 1952 indicated the company chose to elevate only its specialty models.
Among the features of the Crestline sedan were additional exterior trim, two-tone interiors featuring Arrowhead upholstery, a rear robe cord, colored steering wheel and column and full carpeting. Options like rear fender skirts, full wheel covers, power seat, power windows and power steering and brakes all made the Crestline Fordor an attractive package, especially when it cost just over $100 more than the Customline counterpart.
When the production numbers were figured out, the Fordor was the most popular Crestline model with 99,677 sold. This compared to 95,464 for the Victoria, 33,685 for the Sunliner and 12,797 for the Country Squire.
There was a fifth Crestline model for 1954, the also-new Skyliner, which, among today’s collectors, ranks right up there with the Sunliner as the most valuable of the year’s offerings. It had a green-tint Plexiglas fixed-roof panel over the front seat, with a detachable inner liner. The feature would return to the Ford lineup in 1955 and 1956, but the concept, in fixed and sliding forms, would return on other makes and is popular to this day.
Ford’s 1954 car line was the recipient of its first overhead-valve V-8, called the Y-Block. It replaced (except in Canada) the flathead V-8 that served since 1932. It was sized at 239 cubic inches, the same as the flathead, but would eventually grow to 312 cubic inches. The simple 1954 rating with a two-barrel carburetor was 130 horsepower.
Along with Ford’s modern (first seen in the 1952 models) overhead-valve six, the V-8 gave the company an advantage over Chevrolet and Plymouth for a year, as both had only sixes of dated design. For 1954, Ford offered both the six and V-8 in all Crestline models, a first for the series, as only the V-8 was available the previous two seasons.
Another plus in the low-priced field was a new ball joint front suspension. It was based on the version Lincoln installed in its new 1952 models.
The dashboard of the 1954 Ford was also notable with its Astra-Dial Control Panel, which featured a plastic panel on the back of the speedometer that emitted daylight, not unlike the Skyliner roof. At night it was lit conventionally. A panel in the Crestliner dash was also trimmed in bright metal.
While the 1954 Ford was attractive in the low-priced field, it was merely doing set-up work for the much face-lifted 1955 models, which featured wraparound windshields, two-tone side trim in the Fairlane (which replaced the Crestline) and more-powerful V-8s.
Today, the 1954 Fords look rather mundane in relation to what came after them. Also today, the Crestline Fordor is nearly forgotten. It holds the least collector value and interest among the Crestline series and is even a step or two behind a couple of lower-priced models of that year.