Ford's new styling came in 1949. It was clean, low, modern, and boxy-all of which was soon to be seen on European Fords too. The public flocked to buy the new models. In the showdown to see which of the Big Three could get their first all-new postwar car to market first, Ford won the battle. Ford had their first 1949 models in production and ready for consumers by June 1948, beating Chevrolet by six months and Plymouth by nine months.
The reward was that Ford could once again make a claim as America's number one auto manufacturer, as production shot up over 300 percent from 1948, in what would be an extended 16 month selling period. Most striking visually were the new slab-sided bodies, with nary a fender protrusion in sight. While looking somewhat box-like (hence their fond nickname of "the shoe-box Ford"), they were really the most modern looking of the Big Three low priced cars for 1949. The flat bodysides were minimally adorned, with a low mounted stainless trim piece running from the back edge of the front wheel opening, straight back across the top of the rear wheel opening, and ending just shy of the top edge of the rear bumper. No beltline moldings were used, or needed, as bodyside lines flowed smoothly into the greenhouse area.
At the front, a new three-bar grille design featured a full-width center bar with parking lamps housed at each end and a large round center portion with a round "spinner" style ornament inset and a red center area bearing a "6" or "8" depending upon the engine installed. Above this center bar, an over-arching grille bar starting at the bottom bar, just below the headlight, followed the fender and hood edges across the car. A bumped up area in the center of the bar made way for the large round portion of the center grille bar. The lower bar sat just behind the front bumper, and behind this was a body-color pan that funneled air to the radiator between the center and lower bar. The hood was considerably lower than in prior years, very nearly level with the front fenders. Topping off the new look was "FORD" in block letters over the bumped up portion of the top bar, and a new hood ornament resembling a flattened sphere.
Supporting the new body, Ford engineers were finally able to dispense with the old style transverse mounted rear springs, replacing them with more modern longitudinal mounted springs. This change, combined with a stiffer chassis, provided the Ford with much better ride and drivability than any previous models. Under the hood rested the same L-head 6-cylinder and V8 "Flathead" engines used since prior to the war; despite its age, the Flathead remained popular. Overdrive gearing was introduced as an option, helping to improve fuel economy up to 25 percent. Interiors were given new colors, materials, and even a dash of style as compared to the 1946-48 models' rather simple and plain look. Interestingly, Ford finally placed the speedometer directly in front of the driver; it had been positioned to the right of the steering column in nearly all prior Fords. The "Flight Panel" dash featured a raised Vshaped, full-width section housing the round speedometer surrounded by gauges, and a center-mounted clock. Radio, heater, vent and miscellaneous controls were mounted on the bottom section.
Two series continued to be offered, but the Super DeLuxe was renamed Custom. The DeLuxe is sometimes referred to as just a base Ford, but most literature and auto references of the period use the DeLuxe nomenclature. Wording on the front fender portion of the body side molding identified Customs on the outside, as did chrome window trim. The station wagon continued in the Custom series with wood body trim, and was now a 2-Door, though it retained 8-passenger seating capability. Other model changes included the replacement of the Super DeLuxe 2-Door Sedan Coupe with a 2-Door, 5-passenger Club Coupe available in both series, and the discontinuation of the slow-selling Super DeLuxe 3-passenger coupe and Sportsman convertible.