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Vintage Auto Ads: Ford

Published: July 22, 2015

In the early 20th century, The Saturday Evening Post would consistently carry more automobile advertising than any other publication. Perhaps this was why Henry Ford chose its pages to introduce his wonder car, the Model T, which would go on to become one of the most successfully sold automobiles of all time.

Take a look at the evolution of Ford automobiles from the early years through the 1960s, as advertised in The Saturday Evening Post. (For more on the auto industry’s early years, check out Post‘s new special collector’s edition, Automobiles in America!)

The Model T was priced at one half to a third of what other cars cost in 1908.

 

October 3, 1908

October 3, 1908

 

More than a year after this 1911 ad appeared, Ford introduced the moving assembly line, which allowed him to drop the Model T price l, cut production time exponentially, and increase employee wages.

 

December 9, 1911

December 9, 1911

 

By 1926, the Model T was losing popularity. Ford added new features and lowered the price to boost sales, but production on the T ended the following year.

 

May 1, 1926

May 1, 1926

 

Ford introduces his Model A, and sells a million of them by early 1929.

 

August 4, 1928

August 4, 1928

 

In 1932, Ford introduces the famous flathead engine, which would be used in Ford models for years to come and earned him a letter of endorsement from outlaw Clyde Barrow of Bonnie and Clyde fame.

 

February 11, 1939

February 11, 1939


In 1949, Ford became the first automaker among the Big Three to offer a car that wasn’t just an updated pre-war design.

 

March 12, 1949

March 12, 1949


In the second half of the 20th century, Ford’s frame, suspension, and drive shaft were all new, and the V8 engine was engineered to deliver 100 hp.

 

February 18, 1950

February 18, 1950


To stay competitive, the 1955 Ford offered a body design similar to the popular Chevrolet. The new model also featured a more powerful engine and curved-glass windshields for a panoramic view of the road.

 

May 14, 1955

May 14, 1955


The Thunderbird, a convertible two-seater with a powerful V8 engine, was Ford’s upscale response to the sports-car market opened up by the Chevrolet Corvette.

 

November 26, 1955

November 26, 1955


Longer and lower, the 1957 Ford displayed a modest extended tailfin, a feature that would become characteristic of 1950s automobiles.

 

July 13, 1957

July 13, 1957


In 1964, the Post carried ads that introduced the Ford Mustang, a mid-range sports car with a long hood and short rear deck. In its first year of production, over 400,000 of the “workingman’s Thunderbird” were sold.

 

May 16, 1964

May 16, 1964


The Mustang received a Tiffany Gold Medal for Excellence in Design. But more importantly, it appeared in a James Bond film that year.

 

December 12, 1964

December 12, 1964


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  • wadeleonard

    I have a collection of auto ads and post auto covers and there is some of the best art work
    every done I just love your new book on auto advertising Great job in putting it together.

  • Pat Frizzell

    I am surprised that Norman Rockwell’s “The Streets Were Never The Same” Ford poster wasn’t featured. I have one in perfect condition!

  • Wow Jeff, this is a wonderful treat for any vintage car lover seeing this feature. I really had no idea the price of the Model T had gone DOWN so drastically between 1908, 1911 and 1926 if it weren’t for seeing these ads.

    A lot of people today don’t realize how streamlined and modern the 1949-’51 set of Fords were compared to almost anything from GM or Chrysler, not to say their cars weren’t great either.

    Love the red ’55 ad a lot. The ’55 T-Bird was originally supposed to have the chrome “check mark” you see here, but was deleted at the last minute in late ’54 right before production started.

    The ’55 and ’56 T-Birds featured beautiful artwork. The ’57s were only in group shot double-page photography ads featuring all of the company’s models. The illustrated print ads returned for the final time ever for the enlarged ’58 ‘Squarebird’. A lot of people were unhappy about the change, but the T-Bird sales doubled that year over the ’57 and went up from there. Robert McNamara had this long-term plan for the car before the first ’55s ever came off the assembly line.

    I recently got the POST’s special auto book pictured above on the right, and highly recommend it. It’s fantastic from cover to cover filled with the fascinating history of the car through 1939 and filled with beautiful artwork ads, most in beautiful color. For ’80s rock fans, yes, there’s even an ad for an REO Speed Wagon on page 76.

    That white Mustang ad with the black background is an absolute knock out. I have many vintage car ads from different eras, and that one is a particular favorite in it’s beauty and simplicity.