50 Years In The Barn: 1950 Ford Convertible

A week ago, we took a look at a ’49 Ford Tudor, the ’49 being the car that moved Ford forward from its prewar designs and launched it into contemporary automotive times. Continuing in that vein, today we have found its second-year iteration, the highly similar ’50 model. There’s a slight difference in that this ’50 example is a Custom Deluxe convertible body style. It is located in Morristown, New Jersey and available here on craigslist for $8,000. Thanks to Ikey H. for this tip!

                       Mailbox Batting Practice Anyone?

As soon as I set gaze on this convertible, I thought of the ’50 Ford convertible used in the movie, “Stand By Me”, the one that the town miscreants, including actor Keiffer Sutherland, used to smash mailboxes – you just don’t see this vintage Ford convertible very often.

The ’50 Ford brochure lists 50 improvements that were bestowed upon this second-year edition. One that caught my attention was a new windshield gasket designed to keep out water. As I recall one of our posters for the ’49 write-up made mention of that being a problem in the introductory year. Another was a new interior sealer whose purpose was to make the ’50 model quieter, another shortcoming inherent in the ’49. Beyond that, the remaining ’50 improvements were focused on trim, fabrics, colors, door locks, etc., things of that nature.

Right off the bat, it’s pretty evident that this ’50 probably squeaks and leaks, at least based on its forlorn appearance. The kicker is that it has been sitting for 50 years, 50 for a ’50 I guess. Another thing that caught my attention from way-back is the small rear window affixed to the convertible top. These things were popular at one time because the made the car look “cool” and limited outside-looking-inside visibility. You could buy them from the J.C. Whitney catalog of long ago. BTW, the convertible fabric top on this Ford looks mostly shot. The body appears to be pretty straight though the accompanying images don’t indicate anything more than some surface rust on its original black finish. The seller does add, however, “some rust but not a clapped out car”. Hmmm, that’s vague as that could cover an enormous span from OK to sorta OK to uh-uh, no way. The seller also adds that this Ford has its original blood-red interior but there are no accompanying images or details regarding its condition.

Unlike last week’s ’49, this convertible does have a 239 CI flat-head V8, that at one time developed 100 HP. There is no detail beyond that so I’m pretty certain that if this flat-head hasn’t run since ’70, it’s probably not going to run today – seized is the first engine thought that enters my mind but hopefully that’s not the case. For what it’s worth at this point, this Custom Deluxe has a three-speed manual transmission.

I continue to notice that cars from certain geographies always seem to be out of wack in terms of pricing. That thought continues with this convertible. If you are going to go for an out-sized number, how about better and more thorough images along with some specific details and descriptions. As always, if anyone thinks that I’m off the mark on this matter, please let me know – that’s how we learn. Oh, and, what in the world are those “things” on top of the quarters above the taillights?

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  1. Will Fox

    Those fake “fins” would be one of the first things to go. That, and the stupid spotlights on the rear bumper. The cvt. top is of the same style these `50’s left the factory with–no telling if it’s ever been replaced, but it needs it. Me, I’d restore this to showroom new. All kinds of reproduction parts exist for these; 1950 was a good year for Ford because they got most all of the bugs out of it that existed in the `49 (first year) models.

    • Chris M.

      The fake fins would be gone before I loaded it to take it home.

      • Camaro guy

        Another JC Whitney accessory

    • ken tillyUK

      I don’t think that is a spotlight on the rear bumper. I think it is meant to be a reversing light. As for the fake fins, no thanks, not ever.

      • RayT Member

        I think you’re right about the reversing light, Ken. It appears to be the same as the one my father installed on his ’53 Kaiser. I’m thinking Pep Boys may have been involved….

        But yes, the fins would have to go!

      • ken tillyUK

        I have just had an after thought re the spotlight on the rear bumper. I knew a guy that did exactly this with two spotlights with the intention of blinding the people behind him, that either forgot or intentionally didn’t, dip their lights. It gave them the fright of their lives as it appeared that there was a car suddenly coming directly towards them! This was long before we had dip rear view mirrors I might add.

  2. Bill Shields

    I don’t know. I’d fix it up but I think I’d leave all the period attachments.
    I know when a muscle car is modified with period accessories they call it a “Day Two” appearance.
    Maybe call this Ford a “Day Three”?


    This was one sharp car. In the 50’s there was all kinds of short lived companies selling aftermarket trim and doo dads. It was the custom craze. The trend was to change what Detroit made and simply make it your own. The vintage pocket size car rags scream customization. It is what one did.

    Sorry if it seems painful to others but to me this would make a slick car in day two restored WITH accessories. I wouldn’t want it like every other one in the 1-800-build a car catalogs. The V8 stick is cool.

    Yeah the motor is most likely stuck and the damn valves too. Since it needs restored anyway and day two I would simply source a better later model flattie that didn’t need hammered apart and make a slick runner. Keep the boat anchor original for someone it would matter.

    There are many restored examples to choose from. For those that would restore this I would advise to find one already done and don’t ruin this

    • Jim Novak.

      Restoration is the answer.

  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    I like this and sure wouldn’t kick it out of my shop. Those auxiliary fins would have to go though. I look at them and automatically think that they obviously came from the 50s. Full restoration, flathead and all, would be the only way to go on this. The 8BA engine was somewhat of an improvement over the ’59 AB although I encountered a lot of oldtimers who would vehemently disagree; they said the distributor, while a lot more convenient than the old frontal unit, wasn’t nearly as good. Of course, upon seeing that it used a vacuum advance only, I might tend to agree with them. A lot of ’49 and ’50 Fords were sold but they sure didn’t hang around in large numbers; they were used and tossed aside to make room for the new family chariot.

  5. dave

    Wonder what’s going on with the rest of the iron in there. Is that a ’57 next to it? Hard to say, maybe the rear end is sloping down too far for a 57? Looks like it has A Lot of mud…

  6. F Again

    The little mini-caddie fin-dealybobbers were also found in the JC Whitney/Warshawsky and Co. catalogs back in the day. Probably ordered same time as the rear window insert.

    I am going to guess the Flathead block has several cracks between the valves and at least one spit valve seat.

  7. Harry Cortez

    The ‘Stand By Me’ convertible shown in the photo has a mixture of ’49 and ’50 components, but the clear indication that it is a ’49 is the external gas filler (on the left side). Compare it with the covered one on the for sale car.

    • Jim ODonnell Jim ODonnell Staff


      I noted that it has ’49 parking lights but the ’50 hood with the prominent center emblem (opposed to the name FORD spelled out in individual letters), I made a judgment call on it. Nevertheless, it fits the narrative.

    • Allen Member

      The “Stand By Me” car also has the new-for-1950 Ford emblem above the grill, but it has 1949 parking lights. In1950 the parking lights moved down below this location – as seen on the for-sale car. Those emblems were very popular with 10 year-old aspiring vandals. Simply glued on, they would pop off very easily with a moderately swift application of one’s heel. Don’t ask me how I know. I suspect a good many ’49 Ford owners were similarly attracted so the emblem might have replaced the ’49 “F O R D” letters in the same location over the bull’s eye. Or maybe the movie car had a ’50 Ford hood?

      Regarding the fake fins – they were an extremely popular aftermarket accessory for just about any car that wasn’t a Cadillac back in those days – along with Packard “Swan” hood ornaments, and lots of different “V”s. Western Auto (remember them?) was a popular source.

      • Allen Member

        I’d save all the aftermarket junk on this car for wall art in my shop. The fake fins an “V” are as iconic as they are ugly.

  8. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    The fake fins destroy the look of the car! I would think even back in the day you would be laughed at pulling into the drive-in with them, especially unpainted. They appear to use stock Willys Aero or Henry J tail lamp lenses. This could have been my father’s retired, pre-children car as the color scheme matches. Geographically, the distance from DC to Jersey makes it plausible. But the fins, window insert and spotlights would have come after Dad’s ownership.

  9. Del


    Pretty rare now

    Resto needed but straight forward

  10. Paolo

    Me? I like the fins. I might remove them but I would definitely keep them around for Show and Tell……

    • Andrew S Mace Member

      Exactly! Besides, you know SOMEONE will ask you if they’re for sale! :)

  11. JOHN Member

    From what I remember American cars of this vintage did have relatively small glass back windows. I still have the original split glass back window assembly from my Dad’s 50 Studebaker convertible. I remember when he replaced it he used the full width of the opening plastic window. I’m not sure exactly when plastic windows started to appear, but I believe I believe it was around maybe 53/53/54 or so? The majority of these restored cars because the tops have usually been replaced, and the glass window was discarded. Customers wanted the larger “better” plastic window. I also remember custom guys were installing the small glass windows on their cars in the late 50’s and 60’s, and you still see them today.

  12. Eric

    In the 1950′ those things on top of the quarters above the taillights were sold to give your car the popular “fishtail” look, just like the 1952 Caddy.

  13. Robert Pellow

    I wonder if the fins are turn signal lights. I would imagine that turn signals would be somewhat ineffective in the original rather small taillights. I would eliminate them like most of the folks here but there might have been a reason at one point in time to have more effective signal lights.

  14. The one

    Those after market add-on pieces? They are cool. Refresh them and put them back! Have any of y’all even seen those before? I have not.

  15. John P

    Some of you are really out of touch.. feel free to cash in your 401k to restore something that is way cooler at any car show as a driver that you don’t have to sweat over dust and bugs. Those are some unusual aftermarket add-on tail lights-and those would stay in place because they’re cool, rare and all you pukes hating on them would be appropriately spited when I next to your trailered shiny junk..

    If I didn’t have a project waiting in Utah-I’d buy this. The price is more than fair.. great car-

  16. Allen Member

    You can’t tell from the pictures, but those fake fins were originally chrome-plated. They were not intended to be plated.

    I doubt if anybody back then ever thought about the teeny tail-lights and their need for augmentation. They were teeny on all cars. Compare these with contemporary Chevys, Plymouths, et al. We were just getting accustomed to turn signals. If the car in front of you was turning, you looked for signs of it out the driver’s window. Driver’s arm straight out: left turn. Pointing up: right turn. Pointing down: intent to stop. Even in 1955, I was required to use both arm signals and the blinkers on the road-test for my driver’s license.

    Can’t believe I’ve written this much about these things! Enough…

    • Robert L Roberge

      IIRC my ’49 Plymouth had a stop light mounted in the center of the trunk and it was not factory equipped with turn signals, they were added when I got the car.

  17. Chuck simons

    Might as well leave the fins. The Ford is already a Studebaker inspired body style. Might as well make a try and look like a Packard.

  18. moosie moosie

    I remember back when I was a kid living in the Bronx there were a bunch of guys much older then I who had a lot of cool cars. Those fins were a day 2 add on along with “Cruiser Skirts” and also “Bubble Skirts”and if you were a brokester you had just plain small skirts. Most of the cars ran dual glaspacs, some had “Lakes Pipes” some short, some long that mostly all were functional. They all ran those awesome ’57 Caddy hub caps with wide whites, some ran “Porta Walls”. Lots of dark gray hot rod primer paint jobs. If you had money you also had a bunch of Louvers punched in the hood if the car was “Nosed & Decked”. These guys had mostly Fords and Mercs.

  19. John S.

    Those lame fin things look like they’re off a Kaiser… The installer needs a swift kick! The car looks save-able. That would make a sweet cruiser… stock or mild custom.

    • Allen Member

      Well… Not so much Kaiser, as it’s little brother: the Henry J. Here on the Shoebox Ford, there is nary a single swooping line on the car to blend with the faux swoop of the faux fins. They would look better on a Model A, fer cryin’ out loud.😄

  20. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    …nothing “milder” than adding chromed faux fins from JC Whitney and a backup light on the back of your otherwise stock Ford!

  21. Mountainwoodie

    I’d guess the original owner was a sporty guy! Way overpriced but what the h , a buyer won’t offer you more than you’re asking! The fish butt turn signals are fugly but I for one miss Wester Auto n the JC Penney catalogue.

    Luckily it’s on the wrong coast so I can’t even look at it, that said it would be a worthwhile more than most, he says.

  22. Robbert

    I’d take a chain saw to the fins before it leaves the drive,leave the reversing light where it is… could be very useful on moonless nights reversing out of a tight spot. I’d then watch ‘Sweet Dreams’ on my i-pad set it on the dash board before I’d start a stock restoration. Ah life is good!

  23. Jaker76

    I’d restore it as is, maybe not the tail light fins, but those are kinda growing on me as a period add on!!! Definitely just swap in a different flattie, or depends on how bad that was is internally. The back up spot definitely would stay! Love to see some pics of the interior and hope the seller left some of what he is smoking in the ash tray to think this is near worth the asking price!!!! Neat add that is not on this one is the windshield visor!!! Had one of those on my 1951 Ford I drove in hi school and college!

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      I don’t think you could put one of those aftermarket visors on a convertible windshield. Probably something to do with the added weight counter balancing the frame and mounts.

  24. Clay Bryant

    Get a kick out of people thinking 8k is overpriced. Spend $75 an hour getting something straightened out, have to chase down parts, even having to find one………….Then you’ll find out how cheap 8k was….

  25. Glenn

    Love the Caddy fins, Would like to see them and factory tail lights lit up! I have a set of similar JC Whitney still new in the box, they look like 54 Kaiser with the long red blade running back from the red tail fin all mounted on a chrome base that was shaped to fit the top of my 49 Ford Coupe quarter. I only put them at shows and they sure are conversation starters! they were not intended to light up like these shown, just look cool!

  26. Chillywind

    This is my friends car. I saw it a couple months ago.
    He found it in a garage and the story is, the owner trailered his sprint car around with this for years then parked it. he also bought the trailer! it has an old model A front end on it with the tie rods welded to the frame.
    cool stuff. the fins are JC and the light was for working on the sprint car.
    A raccoon got into the interior, I opened the door and started searching for treasures but decided to have another beer instead. The car is as he pulled it from the garage.

  27. Bob McK Member

    When I was young I really disliked these, today they are kind of “cute”. I would keep the JC Whitney stuff just for grins.

  28. Glenn

    What do you suppose the tube coming from the left fresh air duct over to behind the generator is? Generator cooler? Yes that is the correct back window from when the car left the factory. This Ford sure is tempting me!!

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      You know that flexpipe has baffled me since I first saw this add. It looks like it’s tapped right into the breather. Kind of an (Are-You-Kidding?) addition.


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