Shoebox Survivor: 1949 Ford Custom Tudor

When World War II drew to a close, the production of civilian motor vehicles recommenced in the US. With vehicle manufacturers concentrating their focus on the war effort, that meant that these new cars that emerged for the 1946 model year were little more than 1941 models with some minor trim updates. All of that changed in 1948 when Ford stole a march on the opposition and introduced its 1949 model. Affectionately christened the “Shoebox,” this brought styling that was ground-breaking. It is a car that has also become a true classic, and people clamor for good examples. This one is a largely original survivor, and after years spent in a shed, it has been returned to active duty. It now needs a new home, and perhaps that could be yours. It is located in Ennis, Montana, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. At the time of writing, the bidding was sitting at $5,100. However, the reserve hasn’t been met.

Despite holding lucrative defense contracts during the war, Ford headed into the second half of the 1940s in a perilous financial state. The factors that led to this have been documented in countless books, and Henry Ford II knew that if the 1949 Ford failed, the once-mighty company was in big trouble. The slab-sided Ford took the world by storm and is a car that managed to become a classic the moment that it rolled off the production line. It is one of the critical roles of a new model to make its predecessors look obsolete, and the ’49 did that instantly. Never had a high-volume American production car featured such streamlined and integrated styling, and the public couldn’t get their hands on them fast enough. Across the entire ’49 Ford range, the company sold more than 1,118,000 cars. The volume-seller was the Custom Tudor V8, making this car 1-of-433,316 examples sold in that year. The vehicle was found languishing in a shed, with its nose exposed to the UV rays. This has caused the Meadow Green paint to fade on the hood and front fenders, although the rest of the car looks fine. Rust is not a huge problem here. There is a small spot in the front floor on the passenger side and one in the trunk floor. Neither hole is larger than a 50 cent piece, so they could be fixed with patches. When the owner purchased the car, the exterior moldings showed some wear-and-tear, so he has replaced the lot. The remaining chrome and trim seem to be in good condition, while I can’t spot any issues with the glass.

The Ford’s interior is claimed to be original, and it is quite serviceable. The covers on both the front and rear seats are torn, and they will probably need to be replaced at some point. A full set of covers can be purchased for around $750, although throwing blankets over the seats would serve the purpose in the short-term. The armrests are also worn, but the rest of the trim seems to be quite reasonable. The painted surfaces are fine and don’t require any restoration. The car is fitted with a factory radio, although this doesn’t work. The wheel has some acceptable wear, and I can’t spot any problems with the rubber mats.

While the body and chassis were all new for 1949, many of the drivetrain components were carried over from this model’s predecessor. This included the venerable 239ci flathead V8, which is hooked to a 3-speed manual transmission. This little engine was rated at 100hp and was capable of pushing the car to a dizzying 85mph. As part of the revival process, this Ford has received a new fuel tank and sending unit. The brakes have been gone through, and the carburetor has been rebuilt. The only issue that the owner identifies is the fact that the clutch feels soft. It seems to work okay, but a new replacement still in the box is included in the sale. Swapping might not be an immediate concern, because the owner states that the Ford runs and drives well.

The massive sales success of the 1949 Ford provided the financial boost that the struggling company required. The Ford outsold the equivalent offerings from Chevrolet by more than 100,000 cars. It also turned a profit of an incredible $177 million, which the company desperately needed. These were not a rare car when they were new, but they are one that people look upon today with a great deal of affection. They are also a classic that is perfect for the person who likes to be “hands-on” with their classic because the straightforward engineering makes them a breeze to work on in a home workshop. It wouldn’t take a lot of work to return this car to a pristine state, but I know that there will be people who will argue that it should be left as an original survivor. Into which camp do you fall?


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  1. Cadmanls Member

    I like this fine old ride, some flathead speed parts clear it and cruise away.

    Like 8
    • john

      the radio is from a 1950 model

  2. Phlathead Phil 🚗🇺🇸

    Sweet. Does it run? No indication on if the engine can crank over. It would have to be converted to 12v in my view.

    A very solid COMPLETE un-mole-stered car.

    Like 2
    • sourpwr Member

      I love it! Keep it 6volt as God intended.

      Like 4
  3. local_sheriff

    That’s one beautiful little Ford and it’s almost shocking to see one of these that hasn’t been customed. Not the biggest fan of the bumper guard however that original green color seems to be a very nice subtle hue, wonder how it would look fresh?

    I guy in my town has one of these; in a very nice medium blue solid color with a soft custom look to it. Lowered, not roof-chopped, lake pipes, fender skirts and all handles/trim intact including that sweet little clear plastic thingy on the hood ornament. But his has a SBC/TH driveline in it…! 😒

    Like 1
  4. Earl Chrysler

    The bumper guard is a Van Auken model. The two tall posts have extensions that go under the bumper and, as I recall, were bolted to the frame. As I result, if it was hit in the horizontal crossbar, it did not bend backward and hit the grill. Other single-post bumper guards that were mounted in the middle of the bumper, when hit, would bend backward into the grill and front of the hood. The Van Auken was very expensive, but many Ford owners of ’49, ’50 and ’51 models preferred them (at least of those I saw in the Detroit area).

  5. angryjonny

    Pretty sure this would have the Borg/Warner 3 speed with the R-10 overdrive. Get the RPMs up in third, let off the gas, and it drops into a road gear.

    Like 3
  6. Solosolo ken tilly UK Member

    The owner says that it drives and runs well.

    Like 1
  7. Joe Haska

    What a great find if there was anyway this would be in my garage! I always like the 49 the best ,but the old timers always told me the 50 was a better car. The 49 was 1st model year ,so it had problems, but they could never tell me specificaly, what they were. The cars are so similar,
    I just chalked it up to car guys B.S. The 3 speed was the std transmission, but not all of them were O.D’s. Also, everyone wants to convert to 12 volt, WHY! Do you have A/C, P/W, CD stereo , amplifiers. Ford didn’t go to 12 volt until 1956, I have had many early Fords ,that I never converted to 12 Volt and nothing terriable ever happened. This is one early Ford I would just spit polish and enjoy

    Like 3
    • Marty Parker

      Ford advertised , “50 changes for the new 50 model”.

  8. Bob Roller

    Under the hoods of almost ALL these post WW2 cars was the “grand and glorious”technology of the 1930’s.Automatic transmissions were an experiment that few could repair.Low quality oil guaranteed early engine wear in spite of ads to the contrary.I will not get weepy and nostalgic about engines worn out in 30,000 miles,brakes that were never equalized,headlights that needed a relay so they could be used at night and lastly,the Satanic devices called the vacuum windshield wipers.Most of these old heaps should have been junked right off the assembly line rather than being foisted off as “Everything New is HERE and everything here is NEW”or so said the ads for the 1951 Packard I owned for 3 years.

    Like 1
    • local_sheriff

      Just curious – are you fond of old cars at all?

      Like 9
      • Bob Roller

        Only if they are not on the roads with all the built in traps like weak brakes and lights.I started with a major classic that has good brakes and lights and can run on the Interstates at 70.
        It was a 1929 Model J Duesenberg engine J487.It also has electric windshield wipers.

        Like 1
      • local_sheriff

        You’d just love restomods then! 😁

        Like 1
    • That AMC Guy

      AMC cars came with vacuum windshield wipers through 1971, a long time from the end of WWII.

      Like 1
      • Bob Roller

        I know that Pontiac had Vacuum wipers way too long but my knowledge of AMC is very limited.

      • Roger

        I had a 65 American that had vacuum windshield wipers. Nothing going uphill, go like a scalded dog downhill.

    • Ricky Edwards

      In 60 years people will be saying the same thing about cars made today just coming out of WW2 and trying to gear up for civilian manufacturing EVERYTHING WAS NEW. And if it wasn’t for what was new then, if they had been junked right off the assembly line, cars today would not be what they are. Technology builds on what was state of the art yesterday

      Like 3
      • Bob Roller

        It was “new”only because no one had owned it before.The ideas after WW2 were fossilized.Quality contol was an obscene word.Get it made and out the door and “We make junk and YOU will buy it”.Get David Halberstam’s book titled
        “The Reckoning”.If you like automobile history half as much as I do it will be hard to lay it down.


    our family packed up everything we own to move from lincoln nebraska to dallas texas in july of 1957 . that was the year that has record heat wave. we were two adults and two kids 12 years old and 10 year old and two cats in a gage. best thing ever for us we never went back texas had jobs and everything was cheaper to live on. loved the car thought we had really stepped up in the world . lasted mom as very long time . i would love to have it and restore it to it’s former glory. my mom’s was black and looked beautiful .

  10. Bill Hall

    49 being first year of a totally new model had lots of production quality issues. Howeveer after 70 years the ones with problems are long gone. For instance in 49 my Dad bought a new Merc that was total junk. In 50 for reasons lost to time he bought a new one and traded the 49 and the 50 lasted another 12 years before it was junked.

  11. Rodney - GSM

    A very nice survivor. I do notice not one but two “Pine-Scented Pine Trees” dangling from the dash knobs. Perhaps while it was sleeping in that shed with its nose hanging out the door, something went to sleep inside and did not wake up?

    Like 2
  12. Bob Roller

    If by restomod you mean an old car with major upgrades in brakes
    and lights you are right.The Duesenberg was 30 years ahead of the times
    and ignored the mass market entirely and we can thank E.L.Cord for that.

    • local_sheriff

      Well the majority of us car guys wouldn’t have the necessary $ to park any Duesenberg in the driveway.

      When I suggest a ’49 Ford restomod I’m thinking a car that looks OE but is technically upgraded to more modern standards – something like this actually, less the louvers and removed handles/trim of course:

      • Bob Roller

        Back in the 1950 ‘s when I was working on Duesenbergs they were only an unusual used car with very good performance when they were running right.That meant the two in head cams had the be timed and cam clearances had to be on spec.I was offered a food running one for $800 but didn’t have the money.The engineering was far ahead of anything else in that time frame and it still is the only car from the 1930’s that can run at sustained speeds over 70 today.

      • Bob Roller

        A 49 Ford with an upgraded brake and suspension,disc brakes and a 460CID Lincoln engine with C6 transmission
        could be a lot of fun.There was a stock looking 1949 Packard in Southern Ohio that had a GM350 and the heavy duty transmission with overdrive that Packard used,I think it was a Warner but don’t recall the number.
        In 1952 I was in addition to the Duesenberg work which was only a sideline was servicing English cars.MG,Morris,Riley and Jaguar,A local man traded in a 1951 Ford on a new MG and later admitted the Ford engine had some rod bearings that were heavy leather belt material in 3 or 4 rods.The original babbit bearings had failed due to poor quality oil and probably poor assembly methods when built.Years ago a leather bearing,either rods or mains was common due to
        lack of money or just being dishonest.Put it back together and get RID of it in a hurry.The Appalachin culture said that”A poor man has poor ways”and this was one of them.
        When Luck Strike cigarettes went up 2 cents a pack the howling and cursing could be heard all over this area.

  13. geomechs geomechs Member

    I’ve always been a fan of ’49 Fords. Back home in my neighborhood a local mechanic drove one very similar to this one. It was traded in at the local Ford dealership in the mid-50s. The guy and his wife bought it and drove the wheels off it for the next 20 years or so. I heard the oldest boy, who is a couple of years older than I am still has it and drives it. Quite an heirloom.

    Ennis, MT, huh? Might want to take a closer look and see if there are any hideaway compartments for weapons. It might have been owned by some ‘Freemen.’ LOL.

  14. Ralph

    Cool old car and extra points to BF for not using the word “patina’

    Like 2
    • Bob Roller

      Among collectors of antique guns,the word “patina”is code for rust.I have had several revolvers from the Civil War era that had a lot of the original finish with several places where it had faded and
      referred to as “patina”.

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