Here’s a treat, fellow gearheads: a look inside the vehicle testing procedures at the Ford Motor Company in 1951, including some rare behind-the-scenes footage at the Dearborn Proving Ground.
The 1949-1951 car line was a giant leap forward for the Ford Motor Company—truly, it was the first all-new product in years from the Dearborn automaker. That said, the 1949 Ford was far from perfect when it arrived in the showrooms. There were numerous bugs in the new design in need of correction, as the company openly recognized: The advertising tagline for the following year was “50 ways new, 50 ways finer for 1950.” There were significant changes and improvements for 1951 as well (as outlined in our feature, MCG Car Spotter’s Guide to the 1949 to 1951 Fords), and by year three of the cycle, the carmaker was offering a solid, well-regarded automobile.
Then and now, one of the keys to product development is rigorous testing. This original Ford film (a series of three clips combined, actually) provides a great behind-the-scenes look of the testing regimes used in those days. Check out the Ford dyno lab at the one-minute mark, and beginning at around 1:30 there are some awesome views of the Dearborn Proving Ground in an earlier state (note the aircraft buildings and Henry Ford Museum in the background). And starting at around 3:10, we see some fascinating (and entertaining) cyclic component testing rigs. It’s a great glimpse of the vehicle testing process circa 1951. Enjoy the video.