BIG DEALS for the larger 1941 Fords

Ford advertised the new "larger" cars in 1941.
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The ’41 Fords were introduced in September 1940 at more than 6000 Ford dealerships.

The ’41 Fords were introduced in September 1940 at more than 6000 Ford dealerships.

Ford claimed that its 1941 De Luxe and Super De Luxe models were “New in every respect.” Although they didn’t have square wheels or even independent front suspensions, the Fords introduced nationwide in September 1940 at more than 6000 dealerships had a lot of changes.

Cars in both lines were bigger with longer bodies mounted on ladder frames that were said to be “doubled in rigidity.” Interior appointments were completely redesigned. Ford added a new Sedan Coupe body style to the Super De Luxe series. It joined the Tudor Sedan; Coupe; Convertible Club Coupe; Fordor Sedan; and Station Wagon in the company’s high line. The Tudor, Fordor, Coupe and station wagon also came in De Luxe trim.

Ford’s flathead V-8 was promoted as the only engine of its type available in the low-priced-car (less than $2000) field. “Acceleration in first and second gears is faster than any previous Ford Cars,” said the Dearborn automaker, taking care to capitalize the word “car.”

Improved ride quality was pinpointed as the most outstanding advancement in 1941 Fords and this was due mostly to the larger size of the new models. Contributing factors were a lengthened 111-in. wheelbase, an increased spring length of 125 in. and a 194-in. overall length.

Many of the ’41s would be used and serviced throughout the  duration of World War II — and sometimes even in service of the armed forces.

Many of the ’41s would be used and serviced throughout the
duration of World War II — and sometimes even in service of the armed forces.

Softer, slower-action springs, improved hydraulic shock absorbers and a redesigned ride stabilizer also contributed to a better ride. Inside were wider seats with cushions that were built with a soft “floating edge.”

There was more headroom and legroom in every model. A 56-in.-wide seat in the Fordor was 7 in. wider than in 1940. The added length of the cars also permitted wider doors. For example, the door opening in the Tudor Sedan — Ford’s best-selling model — was more than 3-1/2-ft. wide and extended well after the front seat to provide easier access to the back seat.

The divided seat backs in the Tudor Sedan and Coupe models took an inward swing as they tilted forward. Of course, the wider bodies allowed wider windshields and door windows. The rear window in closed cars was enlarged and the glass now curved with the rear deck contour.

Also enlarged were Ford luggage compartments that accommodated several additional large travel bags and smaller travel cases. The spare wheel was mounted vertically in the luggage compartment, which was lined and had a rubber floor mat.

Due to the wider 1941 bodies, very little of the running board showed outside the body sills. The door bottoms covered all except a narrow strip of running board. On the exterior of the body, the door handles were incorporated into the belt moldings, making the cars look longer. The sealed-beam headlamps were mounted far apart on the more massive 1941 front fenders to aid night driving visibility.

The Tudor Sedan had a fastback appearance. The Coupe retained sporty two-door lines between the two different versions offered. One Coupe had two rear auxiliary seats good for occasional passengers. The other Coupe, a single-seat version, took advantage of a 6-in.-wider seat that, combined with the column-mounted Finger-Tip Gearshift, allowed three people to fit inside. In the other Coupe, the seatbacks were hinged to allow passengers to get to the auxiliary seats.

A new Super De Luxe Sedan Coupe combined the compact beauty of the coupe design with ample seating room for six people. “It makes a distinctive personal car with a custom-built appearance,” said Ford. “And it provides real comfort for occasional rear seat passengers.” A folding front seat back allowed rear seat entry of this model, which had a different roofline than the Coupe to allow more rear seat passenger room.

Ford’s Super De Luxe Club Convertible Club Coupe featured an automatic top operated by electric motors instead of the previous vacuum system. One advantage of this change was that the top could be raised or lowered without the engine running.

The interior trims and hardware for 1941 were designed with both beauty and utility in mind. Rich colors and nicely tailored material harmonized with interior metal trim. Super De Luxe models offered upholstery in Mohair or a combination of Bedford Cord and Broadcloth Weave. Convertibles had genuine tan leather seat cushions. Door handle hardware was chrome plated.

Ford instrument panel stylists made sure that the gauges — including a generator charge indicator — could be clearly viewed through the two-spoke steering wheel. The Super De Luxe panel had a woodgrain finish with gray plastic fittings. The panel included a clock; cigarette lighter; ash tray; glove box lock; panel lights dimmer switch; windshield wiper speed control; starter button; and speaker grille for radio-equipped cars. The radiator hood lock was controlled by a handle on the driver’s left inside the car.

The Super De Luxe steering wheel had a chromed half-moon ring placed between the center and outside edges of the wheel that controlled the Twin Air Electric horns. The Super De Luxe models also had hand cranks to open and close the vent windows.

De Luxe models came in Black, Harbor Gray and Cayuga Blue. The Super De Luxe models offered these colors plus Lockhaven Green, Mayfair Maroon and Palisade Gray. The larger 1941 Ford were truly “Big Deals,” but they never quite achieved the popularity of the 1940 models, which became a hot rod icon.

GOOD MANNERS OF ADVERTISING
Ford courtesy cars at 1941 presidential inauguration

With this being a presidential election year, we’re reminded of a Ford program of the 1940s that supplied cars for events ranging from a presidential inauguration to American Legion and Lions International activities. Known as “courtesy cars,” the vehicles represented a good-mannered method to generate publicity for the Ford V-8.

The cars included light-colored 1941 Tudor and Fordor Sedans.

The cars included light-colored 1941 Tudor and Fordor Sedans.

The biggest news in America on Jan. 20, 1941, was the third inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Washington, D.C. One feature of FDR’s elaborate inaugural parade in that city was a mile-long procession of 140 Ford V-8 models that carried visiting state governors and their official families and friends.

In what Ford called “the governors’ Ford fleet in the inaugural parade,” an incredible 140 1941 Ford Tudors and Fordors, all painted light colors (perhaps all the same color), were driven away from the capitol building. They went over the District of Columbia’s Pennsylvania Avenue, in three long rows. The cars were led by a squadron of motorcycle policemen riding eight abreast, with huge crowds lining both sides of the wide avenue.

A fleet of 140 Ford courtesy cars in the 1941 inaugural parade in Washington, D.C.

A fleet of 140 Ford courtesy cars in the 1941 inaugural parade in Washington, D.C.

Governors seen at the inauguration included Robert A. Hurley of Connecticut, Prentice Cooper of Tennessee, John W. Bricker of Ohio, Sam Jones of Louisiana and Julius P. Hall of Wisconsin. Governor Eugene Talmadge of Georgia attended with his wife and their daughter Margaret.

Brigadier General L.F. Wing showed up at the Ford parade with Governor William H. Willis of Vermont. The inauguration’s General Chairman Joseph E. Davies — the former United States Ambassador to Russia — was photographed inspecting one of the Fords used in the parade.

Politicians riding in the Ford sedans were kept warm with the car heaters, but when out in the open, overcoats, furs and hats were the order of the day. Most of the governors wore various styles of fedoras, but Governor Willis had on a derby and Alabama Governor Frank M. Dixon was seen in a top hat.

Inauguration’s General Chairman Joseph E. Davies inspected one of the Fords.

Inauguration’s General Chairman Joseph E. Davies inspected one of the Fords.

Apparently, Ford Motor Co.’s 1941 courtesy car program was fairly large and supplied cars for other large events. A fleet of about 75 dark-colored sedans, several wearing fender skirts, were allotted to the American Legion Convention held in Milwaukee, Wis., that summer. Branch Manager G.F. Nelson presented the cars to Legion officials at the Lincoln Memorial Bridge on the shore of Lake Michigan. A few months before that, a long line of 1941 Ford convertibles painted different colors led the Mardi Gras Parade, which welcomed 14,000 members of Lions International to New Orleans.

Hats, topcoats and furs were the favored attire in Washington in January.

Hats, topcoats and furs were the favored attire in Washington in January.

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