Full-size Ford

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Full-size Ford
Overview
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1908–present
Body and chassis
Class full-size car
Layout rear-wheel drive, body-on-frame (1908–2011)
front-wheel drive/all-wheel drive (2008–present)
Body style(s) Sedan
Station wagon
Coupe
Convertible
pickup truck
coupe utility
Vehicles see listing (1908–1978)
Ford Panther platform (1979–2011)
Powertrain
Engine(s) V8 (1932–2011)

Full-size Ford is the popular term for a long-running line of Ford vehicles which have been produced in North America with a large degree of similarity since the Model T in 1908, up to the Crown Victoria, which ceased production in late 2011. The term full-size does not necessarily indicate it was large relative to its competitors, but that it was the largest and most complete model offered by Ford. The Model T's 134-inch overall length makes it substantially shorter than a current-generation Fiesta hatchback (160.1" OAL).

American automobiles in the early years were usually only identified by make and year (such as a 1952 Ford). Typically, companies produced only one distinct model (excluding trim specifications) in a year, and thus nameplates were the exception rather than the rule. Nameplates emerged when companies began selling other cars to augment their lineup. The term "full-size" came in use after Ford introduced compact cars and mid-size or intermediate size classes in the 1960s.

If the Ford full-size line were to be considered as a single shared lineage, it would comfortably be the longest-running in the car industry with staggering collective production numbers. The Crown Victoria and Police Interceptor were produced until September 2011, 103 years after the introduction of the 1908 Model T. By comparison, the longest-running nameplate in the industry, the Chevrolet Suburban (which has also been branded as a GMC and a Holden at various times), has been in use for 76 model years.

Design commonality[edit]

Over a century's time, full-size Fords from North America have been updated to keep pace with contemporary technology and tastes. In addition to the status of largest Ford vehicle, they were distinguished by a front-engine, rear-wheel–drive layout, live rear axle, and body-on-frame construction; unibody construction was introduced in 2005 with the Ford Five Hundred. From 1932 to 2012, a V8 engine was available, being standard from 1935 to 1940 and from 1973 to 2012.

Where the newest generation of full-size cars produced by Ford (those derived from the 2010-present Ford Taurus) fit into this lineage is contentious; though similar in many dimensions in comparison to their Panther-platform predecessor, they are front-wheel drive with a monocoque design, independent suspension, and a V8 engine is unavailable. Likewise, the European Ford Zephyr, the Ford Falcon, and other internationally produced large Ford sedans of the past have major mechanical and cultural differences from the American full-size lineage.

Production figures[edit]

Production Figures (1908–1978)
Generation Model T Model A Model B/Ford V8 1935 Ford 1937 Ford 1941 Ford 1949 Ford 1952 Ford 1955 Ford 1957 Ford 1960 Ford Galaxie/LTD
(two generations)
Total production
Production 15,006,449 4,849,340 1,109,714 1,751,031
(1935–1936)
2,380,980
(1937–1940)
1,996,696
(1941–1942)
(1946–1948)
2,525,425
(1949–1951)
3,079, 025
(1952–1954)
2,827,849
(1955–1956)
3,977,846
(1957–1959)
4,138,182
(1960–1964)
10,288,996
(1965–1978)
53,931,533

Since the rear–wheel–drive full-size Ford moved to the Panther platform for the 1979 model year, approximately 5,000,000 units have been produced under the LTD, LTD Crown Victoria, Country Squire, Crown Victoria, Crown Victoria P71, and Crown Victoria Police Interceptor nameplates.

Police usage[edit]

Police forces of North America have heavily used full-size Fords for decades because of their preference for V8 power and torque, the pulling power provided by rear-wheel drive, and the robust body-on-frame construction that can be cheaply repaired (important for American police due to usage of the PIT maneuver). However, with the demise of any vehicles with these characteristics from General Motors and Chrysler, the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has held a virtual monopoly on police cruisers sold in North America since 1996. The Crown Victoria has become equally commonplace as a taxi cab.

First generation (1908–1927)[edit]

Main article: Ford Model T
Model T (4-door touring)

In September 1908, the lineage of the full-size Ford began as the Model T entered production. The successor to the Model N and Model S, the Model T would become the first Ford to utilize mass production techniques. Produced in over fourteen body styles, over 15 million would be produced in 19 years of production. Although its predecessors introduced the front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration to the company, the Model T was the first Ford produced in left-hand drive.

Throughout its production run, the Model T saw relatively few changes. In addition to changes to refine its production (which dictated its specification of black paint), technological upgrades were made along the way. Ford added electric lights (in 1910), electric starting (1919), balloon tires (1925), and wire wheels (1926).

As the Model T aged in comparison to its competition, the market share held by Ford began to erode by the mid-1920s. At the end of 1927, the Model A was introduced as its replacement.

Second generation (1927–1931)[edit]

Main article: Ford Model A
1930 Model A (Tudor sedan)

Introduced in December 1927, the Model A borrowed its name from the first car produced by the company in 1903. As with the Model T, the Model A used a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout with body-on-frame construction; an all-new 4-cylinder engine was introduced. As before, the Model A was produced in a wide variety of body styles; in contrast to its predecessor, the car's bodywork was designed by an in-house styling predecessor headed by Edsel Ford. Produced from 1927 to 1931, approximately 4.8 million were produced.

As the Model A was the first all-new design in 19 years, many features were upgraded. The Model A introduced Ford buyers to conventional driver controls; it now had pedals for the brakes, throttle, and clutch as well as a separate gearshift. Safety glass made their automotive industry debut when Ford used it for the windshield.

Third generation (1932–1934)[edit]

Main article: Ford Model B (1932)
1932 Model 18 (V8) DeLuxe Fordor sedan

For the 1932 model year, Ford introduced a revised version of the Model A. The Model B was introduced with a modernized powertrain and chassis and slightly restyled bodywork. Only five years removed from the last Model T, the Model B introduced Ford and the entire automotive industry to yearly changes for model styling. In 1933, the exterior was redesigned while the 1934 wore a new front end of its own; all three versions rode on the same basic chassis.

For 1932, Ford introduced an option that would remain in the full-size Ford line for seven decades. Developed as a response to the 1929 introduction of the Chevrolet "Stovebolt Six", the Model 18 offered a 65-hp V8 engine for a $10 price premium over the standard Model B. Demand for the V8 was so strong that Ford struggled to keep up. After 1934, the 4-cylinder engine was discontinued; the next 4-cylinder Ford in North America would be the Pinto in 1971.

Fourth generation (1935–1936)[edit]

Main article: 1935 Ford
1935 Model 48 Convertible Sedan

For the 1935 model year, the Ford lineup was powered exclusively by a V8 engine. Styling changes introduced the first integrated trunks on sedan models and suspension changes increased interior room. In 1936, further updates included the introduction of solid wheels and the integration of the horn into the bodywork.


Fifth generation (1937–1940)[edit]

Main article: 1937 Ford
1937 Model 78 De Luxe Station Wagon
1940 De Luxe convertible

For 1937, Ford updated its car lineup with minor styling changes. However, the introduction of the De Luxe Ford marked the beginning of expansion of the Ford Motor Company brand lineup. De Luxe Ford was marketed as an upscale sub-brand to bridge the gap between Ford and Lincoln-Zephyr. In 1939, the Mercury was launched; although sharing a chassis with the Ford, it wore a body six inches wider with a wheelbase four inches longer; Mercury would supersede De Luxe Ford as a brand.

As buyer tastes began to change in the late 1930s, certain body styles were pruned from the lineup. 1939 would be the last year for the 4-door phaeton and for single-seat coupes and convertibles (and their rumble seats). A conventional "alligator" hood replaced the "butterfly" hood with its lifting side panels. Ford also made several safety-related changes as well. The dashboard was redesigned (to feature recessed controls) in 1938, hydraulic brakes were added in 1939, and sealed-beam headlights were introduced a year later.

Sixth generation (1941–1948)[edit]

Main article: 1941 Ford
1942 Super Deluxe Coupe
1946 Ford V8 pickup truck. 1946 was the next-to-last year before Ford trucks were built on a dedicated platform

.

For 1941, Ford introduced an all-new generation of cars and trucks. These would be the final generation of cars produced in the lifetime of both Edsel Ford and Henry Ford. Due to the success of Mercury, De Luxe Ford was changed from a sub-brand back to a trim level within the Ford lineup. The width of the body had now increased to the point where running boards had become vestigial. For the first time since the Model K of 1906, an inline-six engine was available (as a base engine).

From February 1942 to July 1945, civilian production was discontinued as Ford manufactured military products for World War II. As production resumed, Ford released the 1946 model with few changes aside from a new grille. Under the hood, the V8 engine was now shared with Mercury, allowing Ford to break the 100-hp barrier for the first time. In 1947, the last Ford trucks based on the car chassis were produced. For 1948, the F-Series was introduced as a dedicated truck chassis.

Seventh generation (1949–1951)[edit]

Main article: 1949 Ford
1950 Ford 4-door sedan

For the 1949 model year, Ford redesigned its car lineup with a number of significant changes. The transverse-leaf suspension, seen since the Model T, was replaced by independent front suspension and longitudinal leaf springs. Fenders and running boards were completely integrated into the bodywork.

In 1950, the Ford model line expanded itself further as the division added model names to the lineup (as opposed to Ford Standard or Ford Custom). A year later, an automatic transmission appeared for the first time. Wood-paneled station wagons were now available as Country Squire. 1951 also saw Ford enter the youth market with a new Victoria pillarless hardtop-convertible, a direct competitor to the Chevrolet Bel Air.

Eighth generation (1952–1954)[edit]

Main article: 1952 Ford
1952 Mainline 2-door Ranch Wagon
1954 Crestline Skyliner

For 1952, Ford updated its cars with mild exterior updates; this generation is distinguished by the introduction of a single-piece windshield. The pedals were remounted from the floor to below the dashboard.

Mechanically, power brakes and power steering became an option in 1954. In 1954, the overhead-valve Y-block V8 replaced the Flathead V8 seen since 1932. At 130 hp, the Y-block produced twice the horsepower as the original 1932 V8.

Nameplates[edit]

  • Ford Mainline
    • Ranch Wagon


Ninth generation (1955–1956)[edit]

Main article: 1955 Ford
1956 Fairlane 4-door sedan

In 1955, the Ford car lineup was given a mild update over the previous year, although several features made their first appearance in this generation. Air conditioning was now available as a factory-installed option. The Lifeguard option package, introduced in 1956, featured front and rear seat belts, a padded dashboard, and redesigned door latches. Although this was the first generation of Fords to undergo crash testing, the Lifeguard package was not well received by buyers. Several nameplates in the Ford lineup made their first appearance during this time. Ford introduced the Fairlane, Crown Victoria, and Ranch Wagon as part of the 1955 lineup. Station wagons were now a separate model series from 2-doors and 4-doors.

Nameplates[edit]

  • Ford Mainline (1955–1956)
    • coupe utility (Australia only)
  • Ford Customline (1955–1956)
  • Ford Fairlane (1955–1956)
  • Ford Ranch Wagon (1955–1956)
  • Ford Crown Victoria/Crown Victoria Skyliner (1955–1956)
  • Ford Courier (1955–1956)
  • Ford Parklane (1956)


Tenth generation (1957–1959)[edit]

Main article: 1957 Ford

For the first time since 1949, the 1957 Ford lineup was built on an all-new chassis; a new frame allowed for the use of lower-mounted bodies. As part of the convertible lineup, the Skyliner introduced a new feature: the retractable hardtop. The Ranchero, introduced in 1957, was the first coupe utility pickup sold in North America, predating the Chevrolet El Camino by two years. The Ranchero was developed from the Courier sedan delivery with the bodywork above the cargo area removed.

In 1959, the Galaxie nameplate was introduced.

Nameplates[edit]

  • Ford Custom (1957–1958)
  • Ford Custom 300 (1957–1959)
  • Ford Fairlane/Fairlane 500/Fairlane Skyliner (1957–1959)
  • Ford Galaxie/Galaxie 500/Galaxie Skyliner (1959)
  • Ford Courier (1957–1959)
  • Ford Ranch Wagon (1957–1959)
  • Ford Ranchero (1957–1959)
  • Ford Del Rio (1957–1958)
1957 Fairlane 500 Skyliner 
1957 Country Squire 
1958 Ranchero, rear 3/4 view 


Eleventh generation (1960–1964)[edit]

Main article: 1960 Ford
1963 Galaxie sedan

In 1960, the subjective term of full-size Ford came into its own, stemming from the 1960 introduction of the compact Falcon. Along with an all-new body, the 1960 Fairlane and Galaxie grew three inches in wheelbase. The sedan delivery and two-door station wagon body styles, in a long decline, ended their production after 1960. In 1961, the FE-series V8, the first big-block Ford engine made its appearance in full-size models. In a step between the inline-6 and the powerful FE-series V8s, the Windsor V8 made its first appearance in 1963. 1962 also saw introduction of the bucket-seats-and-console Galaxie 500/XL, a direct competitor to the popular Chevrolet Impala Super Sport.

In 1962, the Ford sedan lineup was expanded further, as the Fairlane nameplate was used for the company's first intermediate-sized car. Sized between the Galaxie and the Falcon, the new Fairlane adopted unibody construction while retaining a rear-wheel drive layout.

Quality control problems with Ford products which began with the 1957 models resulted in premature body rusting and engine wear. These were addressed as the years progressed until 1964, when the big Fords became extremely durable and reliable, easily outlasting the 100,000 mile mark.

Nameplates[edit]

  • Ford Fairlane (1960–61)
  • Ford Galaxie (1960–64)
  • Ford Ranch Wagon (1960–62)
  • Ford Country Sedan (1960–64)
  • Ford Country Squire (1960–64)
  • Ford Courier (1960)
  • Ford 300 (1963)
  • Ford Custom (1964)


Twelfth generation (1965–1968)[edit]

For the 1965 model year, the full-size Ford platform was given a redesign. To improve ride and handling, the rear leaf springs (a design unchanged since the 1949 Ford) were replaced by a three-link coil-spring design. To comply with federal safety mandates, in 1967 the full-size Fords were updated with a padded dashboard, recessed controls, collapsible steering column with padded steering wheel, and 3-point seatbelts; 1968 models gained side marker lights.

In 1965, the lineup was expanded further with the introduction of the LTD. Originally sold as a part of the Galaxie 500 lineup, coming only as a 2-door hardtop, the LTD became its own model for the 1966 model year. Largely the response to the Chevrolet Caprice and Dodge Monaco, the LTD offered the Ford body and powertrain with an upgraded interior; the standardization of convenience features made the LTD comparable to a Lincoln in specification, though not price. 1967 saw the XL no longer identified with the Galaxie series, it was its own model and referred to as the "Ford XL."

Nameplates[edit]

  • Ford Custom/Custom 500 (1965–1968)
  • Ford Galaxie/Galaxie 500 (1965–1968)
  • Ford Galaxie 500 LTD (1965)
  • Ford Galaxie 500/XL (1965-1966)
  • Ford XL (1967-1968)
  • Ford LTD (1966–1968)
  • Ford Country Sedan (1965–1968)
  • Ford Country Squire (1965–1968)
1966 Galaxie 500 4-door sedan 
1965 Galaxie 500 LTD 2-door hardtop coupe 
1968 LTD Country Squire station wagon 


Thirteenth generation (1969–1978)[edit]

1972 LTD 4-door Hardtop
1974 Galaxie 500 2-door Hardtop
1973 LTD Country Squire

In 1969, full-size Fords were given another all-new platform. The vertically stacked headlamps seen on the previous generation were replaced by horizontally mounted units. Lincoln-style hidden headlamps distinguished LTDs and XLs from Galaxies and Customs. Similar to the Mercury Marauder, SportsRoof "fastback" versions of the Galaxie 500 and XL were sold for 1969 and 1970. LTD and Custom two-doors featured a formal hardtop roofline.

With the declining market for full-size performance cars, the XL was discontinued after 1970. In 1971, as part of a redesign, the LTD became one of the first cars equipped with a third brake light (this was dropped in 1973). With the impending threat of federal rollover standards coupled with declining demand, 1972 marked the final year for the convertible. 1972 marked the final year for the Custom; the Custom 500 would remain, sold nearly exclusively as a fleet vehicle.

For 1973, the Custom 500, Galaxie sedan, LTD, and station wagons were given an all-new body. In response to federal regulations, the front ends were fitted with large 5 mph bumpers; they would be fitted to the rear for 1974. Two-door hardtops were also redesigned with thick B-pillars and fixed rear quarter windows. Four-door and wagon models were marketed as "pillared hardtops"; while still wearing frameless door glass, they were reinforced with thin metal B-pillars. To deal with the added weight, only V8 engines were available (for the first time since 1940).

As emissions standards eroded the output of the powertrains under the hood, Ford refocused towards features such as comfortable ride instead of outright performance. To do so, Ford began to move its full-size line gradually upmarket. After 1974, the Galaxie and its companion Country Sedan station wagon were discontinued, integrated into the LTD line. With the Custom 500 essentially relegated to fleet and police sales, the LTD/Country Squire became the sole full-size model available at dealerships.


Approximately 7,850,000 full-size Fords and Mercurys were sold from 1969-78.[1][2] This makes it the second best selling Ford automobile platform after the Ford Model T.

Nameplates[edit]

  • Ford Custom/Custom 500 (1969–1978)
  • Ford LTD (1969–1978)
  • Ford XL (1969–1970)
  • Ford Galaxie/Galaxie 500 (1969–1974)
  • Ford Country Sedan (1969–1974)
  • Ford Country Squire (1969–1978)


Fourteenth generation (1979–2011)[edit]

Necessitated by federal fuel economy standards, the full-size Ford lineup underwent downsizing for the 1979 model year. The full-size Fords were redesigned on an all-new platform. Losing fifteen inches of length and 800 pounds of weight, Ford's full-size car now had smaller exterior dimensions than the mid-size LTD II. In spite of the smaller size, interior dimensions and trunk space increased over its 1978 predecessor. In a move upmarket, the Custom 500 became a Canada-only model, which was deleted in 1981. As the LTD was introduced, Ford began development on its intended replacement, the front-wheel drive Ford Taurus. As fuel prices stabilized and demand for full-sized cars remained, Ford made the decision to continue to produce the Panther platform alongside the Taurus. In 1983, as part of a major model shift throughout Ford Motor Company, the LTD and LTD Crown Victoria were split apart. The LTD Crown Victoria (and the Country Squire) became the sole full-size cars, while the LTD nameplate took over for a facelifted version of the slow-selling Granada sedan.

For 1992, the LTD Crown Victoria was replaced by the Crown Victoria and the Country Squire was discontinued. Styled like a larger version of the Taurus, the Crown Victoria borrowed a nameplate from the mid-1950s Ford lineup. Many features, such as four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, and dual airbags were all-new, and the Windsor V8 was replaced by the Modular V8, the first overhead-cam V8 in an American full-sized sedan.

In 1998, in what would be the final exterior redesign of the Crown Victoria, it received the roofline of Mercury Grand Marquis. For 2003, the frame and suspension were redesigned to improve its handling. After 2007, it was no longer sold to retail customers in North America. On September 15, 2011, Ford produced the final Crown Victoria; it was sold for export to Saudi Arabia.

Nameplates[edit]

  • Ford LTD (1979–1982)
  • Ford Custom 500 (1979–1981, Canada)
  • Ford LTD Crown Victoria (1983–1991)
  • Ford Country Squire (1979–1991)
  • Ford Crown Victoria (1992–2012)
  • Ford Police Interceptor (1999–2011)
Full-size Fords (Panther platform)
1979-1980 LTD 
1988-1990 LTD Country Squire; 1991 was the final year of station wagon production 
1992 Crown Victoria 
1998-2002 Crown Victoria 

Fifteenth generation (2005–present)[edit]

Main article: Ford D3 platform
2008-2009 Ford Taurus Limited
2012 Ford Flex Limited

For the 2005 model year, Ford introduced its first all-new full-size car in 26 years. Largely intended to take over the role of the Crown Victoria in the retail market, the Ford Five Hundred was also developed as the larger of the two cars slated to replace the Ford Taurus. While marketed as a crossover SUV, the Ford Freestyle based upon the Five Hundred was functionally the first true successor to the Country Squire station wagon, marking the first time since 1991 that Ford offered full-size vehicles in multiple body styles.

Using the D3 platform developed by Volvo, the new introductions marked a number of major changes to the full-size Ford line. Instead of body on frame construction with rear-wheel drive, uni-body design with front-wheel drive was utilized; all-wheel drive made its first appearance as well. For the first time since the 1931 Model A, a V8 was unavailable, replaced by a V6 (making its first appearance in the full-size line). In all-wheel drive models, an automatic transmission was replaced by a CVT. For the first time since 1970, the line was exclusive to Ford and Mercury, with only Ford receiving the crossover SUV/wagon to sell.

For the 2008 model year, citing greater brand recognition, Ford combined the Five Hundred and Freestyle into a single Taurus line, with the Freestyle becoming the Taurus X. In 2009, the Flex was introduced, largely becoming the replacement for the Taurus X.

With the discontinuation of its Mercury Sable counterpart, the Taurus was given a substantial update for the 2010 model year. After an 11-year hiatus, the Taurus SHO returned to the lineup, powered by a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6.

In 2013, the Taurus, SHO, and the Flex were given an exterior update with new grilles (with the removal of the Ford Blue Oval for the Flex) and upgraded engine output. An EcoBoost 4-cylinder becomes standard equipment in the Taurus (the first such engine in a Taurus since 1991 and the first full-size Ford with a 4-cylinder engine since 1934).

Replacing its Crown Victoria predecessor, the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan is a police patrol/pursuit car; optional is the EcoBoost and all-wheel drive used in the SHO. With the discontinuation of the Crown Victoria, the Mustang is now the sole Ford car available in North America equipped with rear-wheel drive and the only V8-powered Ford car line left worldwide.

Nameplates[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kowalke, Ron (1997). Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946–1975. Krause publications. ISBN 0-87341-521-3. 
  2. ^ Flammang, James Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976–1999 3rd Edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc 1999)