The Ford Motor Company is an iconic automaker, responsible for producing some of the best loved vehicles of all time. In business since 1903, Ford has given the world iconic vehicles such as the Mustang muscle car and the F-100 pick-up truck. Yet Ford announced last year that it is all but eliminating sedans from its manufacturing line-up, choosing instead to concentrate on building more popular trucks, SUVs, and greener vehicles. As Ford prepares to switch gears, we take a nostalgic look back at the 10 most iconic vehicles built by the company over the years.
10. 1955 Ford Thunderbird
We’ll start off with a true classic. The 1955 Ford Thunderbird is a favourite of automotive collectors around the world. Many people consider the original two-seat Thunderbird to be the first truly glamorous Ford car. It’s elegant, rounded body and white wall tires make a bold statement.
Known simply as the “T-Bird,” this car is truly one for the history books. Manufactured between 1955 and 1957, a total of 53,166 two-seater Thunderbirds were manufactured by Ford. A four-seat version came later, but never held the glamour of the two seat T-Bird.
9. 1961 Lincoln Continental
The 1961 Lincoln Continental was so popular that executives at Ford credited the car with saving the Lincoln brand from being discontinued. A convertible that has a flat hood and trunk, as well as suicide rear doors, the ’61 Continental inspired a generation of similar cars from the 1960s.
It was, in fact, the first time since 1951 that a Lincoln car came equipped with rear doors that were rear-hinged, aka suicide doors. By 1963, the Lincoln Continental underwent a number of changes designed to provide more legroom and bigger trunk space, but critics and consumers never quite took to it. However, the 1961 Lincoln Continental remains a classic Ford car.
8. 1953 Ford F-100
The modern Ford truck began with the 1953 Ford F-100, widely considered the most influential Ford pick-up of all time. Of course, Ford had previously made trucks (the F-3 was produced from 1948 to 1952), but the F-Series was completely redesigned in 1953 and the results proved to be both popular and enduring.
This was the first Ford truck to come with an automatic transmission as an option, and it proved especially popular with farmers and people who had to haul heavy loads. The 1953 Ford F-100 was also popular with hot-rod drivers and street racers of the time, and versions of this truck are still modified and used in races today. In 1956, Ford revised the truck with a wraparound windshield and a more modern chassis underneath.
7. Shelby 427 Cobra
One of the best looking and most powerful Ford vehicles of all time, the Shelby 427 Cobra inspired nearly every performance car that came after it. The 427-cubic-inch, 7.0-liter V-8 engine was viewed by many people as “outrageous” when the car first came out in 1962.
While the Shelby 427 Cobra was ultimately a financial failure for Ford, the investment paid off in terms of providing the company with a signature race car that has endured as a classic of the track. Today, classic Shelby Cobras regularly sell at high-end auctions for over $1 million.
6. 1949 Ford Custom
One of the most recognizable cars of its era is the 1949 Ford Custom. This is a car that is easily identifiable with the post World War II prosperity of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Ford developed the 1949 Custom with an “envelope” body that tucked everything inside a sleek and stylish body. It is recognized today as a feat of modern engineering that served as a blueprint for the American automotive industry for decades.
Sadly, Ford discontinued the Custom nameplate after the 1972 model year. However, the 1949 edition endures as a classic vehicle of the post-war era and baby boom generation. It was the most popular family car of the early 1950s.
5. 1986 Ford Taurus
We’re not saying that the 1986 Ford Taurus is a good-looking car. This is not a vehicle that would be high on the list of collectors to own. That said, the first Ford Taurus, manufactured in 1986, deserves a place on this list as it is the car credited with saving the company from bankruptcy in the mid-1980s. The American automotive industry was in turmoil in the mid-1980s, facing growing competition from Japan and on the verge of collapse.
Several companies responded to the dire situation by designing and producing a series of affordable to buy and economical to produce sedans. For Ford, that was the Taurus, an aerodynamic, front-wheel-drive sedan that the average family could afford. The Taurus proved to be one of the most enduring Ford vehicles too, lasting through six generations and over 34 years until it was finally discontinued in early 2019.
4. 1964 GT40
One of the very best race cars ever made by Ford is the 1964 GT40. Today, this car is a highly desired collectible owing to the fact that only 135 were manufactured. Built by Ford to compete against the top Ferraris of the day, the GT40 won four straight 24 Hours of Le Mans contests between 1966 and 1969.
The contemporary Ford GT cars that came after were an homage to the GT40, with “GT” standing for “Grand Touring.” Historians and industry analysts agree that the 1964 GT40 is one of the greatest Ford race cars ever built. It’s performance and cool factor are off the chart.
3. Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
When it comes to trucks, the F-150 SVT Raptor stands atop the heap. Rugged, tough, and durable, the Raptor is widely considered the best pick-up ever produced by Ford. It’s also Ford’s most profitable vehicle ever. And while Ford is discontinuing almost all of its sedans, it has announced plans to build a new generation SVT Raptor with an aluminum-body.
Fans are hoping that Ford does something special with the engine of the new SVT Raptor after previous versions impressed with a 6.2-liter V-8 and a twin-turbo V-6. While the regular F-150 lineup is always a popular choice among buyers, the extra-strong (even sporty) Raptor version is a huge hit with drivers who want their truck to be something extra special.
2. 1965 Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is (almost) the most iconic and popular Ford car. It’s also one of the few cars (as opposed to trucks or SUVs) that Ford plans to continue manufacturing due to its enduring popularity. This begs the question of which Mustang is the coolest of all time? For our money, it is the 1965 Ford Mustang.
This is part of the first-generation Mustangs that were manufactured between 1964 and 1973, and it introduced a new class of vehicle known as the “pony car.” The 1965 Mustang set the standard for the nameplate and created a cult around muscle cars – vehicles with small bodies and powerful engines. Over the decades, Ford has worked hard to modify, update, and perfect the Mustang. But they have not surpassed their achievements with the first generation 1965 model.
1. Ford Model T
First place on this list must go to the car that started it all – the Ford Model T. It is difficult to quantify the impact of the Model T, both on the automotive industry and manufacturing in general. Known as the “Tin Lizzie,” the Model T is credited with being the first affordable vehicle and the one that introduced automobiles to middle class consumers.
Its production also led to the invention of the modern-day assembly line. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford built 16.5 million Model Ts and these barebones, four-cylinder vehicles largely popularized cars around the world. Today, the Model T remains on the top 10 list of most sold cars of all time. It was also named the “most influential car of the 20th century” in a 1999 Car of the Century competition. Without the Model T, none of the other vehicles on this list might exist.