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The Beginning of the End: The ’40 Ford

When America marched off to war, the ’40 Ford was waiting on the home front.

by on Jul.18, 2011

One of the most influential cars of its era, the 1940 Ford, is subject of a new book.

In the dark days before America was plunged into war, the nation’s smokestacks were finally beginning to belch smoke again, and nowhere was that more apparent than in Detroit, the auto industry finally ramping up after more than a decade of the Great Depression.

It was an era of grand transformation as automakers began experimenting with more powerful engines, automatic transmissions, air conditioning and streamlined, often art deco styling. Some of the most striking designs emerged from the studios of Ford Motor Co.

Yet few knew that the ’40 Ford, in particular, would mark the beginning of the end. Not long after its introduction, the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor would send the nation into full conversion to wartime manufacturing. And, for many enlistees and draftees heading off to war, a ’40 Ford was the car they would dream about owning once they finally returned home. Film fans may recall that Actor John Payne was driving a ’40 Ford coupe in the closing scenes of 1947′s “Miracle on 34th Street.”

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Now Detroit Author Joe Cabadas—“in cooperation with The Henry Ford”— gives us a close look at the era leading up to the ’40 Ford in a new “coffee table” type book aimed at Ford enthusiasts in particular and automotive historians generally. The somewhat short-changing title is ’40 Ford, a label dictated by publisher Motorbooks.

In case you’re not familiar with the name, The Henry Ford, it’s the new handle for the long-known number one tourist attraction in Michigan, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.