MCG Car Spotter’s Guide to the 1952 to 1954 Ford

1953 Ford convertible and sedanWatch the Fords go by! In this latest Car Spotter’s Guide, we feature the company’s passenger car line for 1952 through 1954. 



Previously at Mac’s Motor City Garage, we’ve featured Spotter’s Guides for the 1949 to 1951 Ford lineup and for the 1955 and 1956 model years as well.  Now it’s time to complete the run with the 1952 through 1954 Ford passenger cars. Let’s dig right in.


1952 Ford Crestline V-8 SunlinerFor 1952, Ford completely reskinned the all-new passenger car introduced in 1949, a step that inspired the slogan, “The only modern styling in the low-priced field,” a friendly jape at Chevrolet and Plymouth. The fresh sheet metal (Crestline Sunliner convertible shown) sported sculptured rear quarter panels with aircraft-ish simulated air intakes—a trademark feature of the ’52-54 Ford cars (Mercury and Lincoln, too) and an easy way to recognize them today.


02 1952 Ford grille and parking lampsWhile the ’52-’54 cars are very similar overall, the individual model years are easily identified by their distinctive grilles and parking lamps. For 1952, a stylized center bullet is flanked by turn/parking lamps with a three-blade motif (“jet air intakes” in Ford ad lingo). Note the classic Ford tri-color hood shield, and that the parking lamps stand outside the grille opening at the ends of the slotted grille bar.


1952 Ford Mainline Business Coupe front and rear artThree trim levels were offered in these years: the bare-bones, chrome-free Mainline, the mid-range Customline, and the full-dress Crestline. Shown here is a Mainline Business Coupe. Through 1954, Ford continued to offer its somewhat anachronistic Club Coupe and Business Coupe body styles—these had shorter roofs and smaller rear seat areas than a standard two-door sedan.


1953 Ford Customline V-8 Club Coupe In 1953, passenger cars received a revised front end and, on the Customline and Crestline models, an extra slash of horizontal bright trim on the rear quarters—as shown on this Customline Club Coupe. Along with the venerable flathead V8, now punched out to 239 CID and rated at 110 hp, a more modern 215 CID OHV inline 6 with 101 hp was also offered. In most ways, the 6 actually outperformed the old V8.


1953 Ford grille and parking lampsThe revised 1953 front end features a full-width grille bar and opening with a central bullet bracketed by four black stripes on each side. Small, rectangular turn/parking lamps dwell in the lower outboard corners of the grille opening.


1953 Ford pace car Gasoline AlleyIn 1953, the Ford Motor Co. (founded 1903) marked its golden anniversary models with a commemorative steering wheel medallion. A Crestline Sunliner convertible, shown here among the famed wooden garages in Gasoline Alley, also served as the pace car in the Indianapolis 500. The pace car promotional models featured Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels and a continental tire bump in the deck lid.


1953 Ford Crestline Country Squire station wagonFord’s ’49-’51 station wagons were available only as two-doors, a situation the company remedied on the ’52-’54 body, which it offered in two-door Ranch Wagon and four-door Country Sedan and Country Squire models. Shown here is a top-of-the-line ’53 Crestline Country Squire in all its faux-mahogany glory.


1954 Ford VictoriaThe next facelift in 1954 featured redesigned bright side trim and another new grille and parking lamp scheme. Shown above is the Victoria pillarless two-door hardtop, which was offered only as a top-end Crestline model from ’52 through ’54.

While the appearance changes for 1954 were minor, underneath there was an updated chassis with ball-joint front suspension. But the big news this year was the all-new Y-Block V8, an overhead-valve design with 239 CID and 130 hp. Drivetrain choices included a three-speed manual gearbox with or without optional overdrive and Ford-O-Matic, a fully automatic planetary transmission with torque converter.


?The 1954 grille features a central bullet vaguely similar to the 1952 design, but is housed in a full-width grille opening with a turn/parking lamp on each end of the grille bar. Since the rear-end designs of the three model years are so similar, the front ends make a handy tell for car spotters today.


1954 Ford Crestline Fordor SedanWith its $1975 base price, the Fordor Sedan was the least expensive and most popular of the top-end Crestline V-8 models for 1954.  Available extras included power steering, power brakes, power windows, and power seat.


?This catalog rendering shows the revised side trim for 1954 and another new Ford feature that year that has forever captivated enthusiasts, the Skyliner clear acrylic roof insert. Formally known as the Crestline Skyliner, the Victoria variant was relatively popular—over 13,000 were produced.


1954 FordsAt left is a 1954 Crestline Victoria; at right, a Mainline Tudor Sedan. Ford marketing in these years promoted the benefits of two-car households. Ads pointed out that for the price of one premium-priced auto, a family could purchase two new Fords—a powerful idea with suburbia spreading across the country and more women joining the workforce.


6 thoughts on “MCG Car Spotter’s Guide to the 1952 to 1954 Ford

  1. The 1954 models also had a new dashboard from the 52’s and 53’s plus all 3 years had different tail light lenses and interiors with the 54’s adding some vivid colors to the interiors. My wife’s father had a special ordered 54 black convertible with black and white interior and a white dash. It was the new V8 and it blew up in a few weeks throwing a rod. Of course Ford replaced it. My father had on also a 2 door post sedan, dark green with a white painted roof with the OHV 6.

    • All great points. In the Spotter’s Guides we don’t try to hit all the differences, only the quick and easy ones. Thanks for weighing in.

      When I was a tyke, my Dad had a powder blue ’52 Customline Fordor. He hated it, says it was the worst car he ever owned. The 6V ignition system was marginal — very poor spark at 0 F.

  2. More trivia on the table, 😉 the 1952 Victoria hardtop was a 3-pieces rear windshield was it was a one-piece windshield for 1953-54.

    I got an issue of the magazine Collectible Automobile who mentionned then the 1955 Ford and Mercury was to keep the windshield design of the 1952-54 but was forced to change their plans due to GM introduction planned for the 1954 model year for Cadillac, Buick and Olds of the panoramic windshield. Only Lincoln stayed with the 1952 windshield style for one more year until they got a all-new body for 1956.

    The design of the British 1956-62 Ford Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac was influenced by the design of the 1952-54 Ford.

  3. Very interesting. I believe mine is a 53 Tudoor, but I’m still not sure due to all the changes in those years. Good work, and factual.

  4. i had the 4 door sedan,3 speed,v-8,239,2 idle you could not hear it.loved

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