Ford - Forty Nine (49) Convertible
FORTY-NINE CONVERTIBLE: ANOTHER ‘LEGEND’ REBORN
DETROIT, Jan. 6, 2002 – Ford, the nation’s leader in convertible sales, builds on its Living Legends lineup with a reissue of the industry’s most beloved drop-tops – the Forty-Nine convertible concept.
"The original Living Legends – Mustang and Thunderbird – resonate so strongly with people, in part, because they feature convertible body styles, so it was only fitting for the Forty-Nine concept to return as a rag top," says J Mays, Ford Motor Company vice president, Design.
The burgundy Forty-Nine convertible concept harkens back to the romance of a Friday night at the drive-in or bowling alley, listening to rock-and-roll and cruising "the strip" in a chopped and channeled or convertible custom car.
The ’49 Ford was the key to a company turnaround engineered by Henry Ford II and his "Whiz Kids." It was offered in many variations including the standard edition, station wagon, Custom Club coupe, Custom Fordor, Custom Tudor – the most popular model – and convertible. The coupes and station wagon drove strong family sales while the convertible drove important new younger buyers to Ford dealerships.
Hollywood provided inspiration as well. James Dean starred with the convertible on the "silver screen" in the classic Rebel Without a Cause, where the ’49 Ford co-starred with a ’49 Mercury in one of motion picture history’s most famous car scenes. Fueled largely by the demand among young people, the ragtop netted sales of more than 51,133 cars.
Today, Ford leads in convertible sales with the best-selling convertible, the Mustang and the new 2002 Thunderbird. During the past five years, convertible sales have increased by 40 percent. Today’s convertible market in the United States is approximately 275,000 a year, representing more than half of the worldwide convertible sales.
Ford sells more than 50,000 Mustang convertibles each year, representing approximately 18 percent of U.S. convertible sales. Adding 25,000 Thunderbirds to that count moves Ford’s share of the fun-in-the-sun market to more than 27 percent.
Back to the Future
To create the all-new concept Forty-Nine, Ford designers went back to the car’s roots – simple shapes, clean body panels and modern conveniences.
The Forty-Nine convertible concept’s hyper-smooth, slab-sided appearance is enhanced with the new convertible, open-air look. The exterior finish is a rich burgundy with a matching burgundy cloth soft top. A bright chrome wraps around the exterior with modest chrome accents elsewhere, such as its badging and 20-inch chrome wheels.
Clean, simple, design cues are conveyed in the rounded high intensity discharge (HID) and projector-beam front lighting. In the rear, sleek, narrow, wrap-around LED tail lamps make a distinctive statement.
The interior also is a modern interpretation of the original car’s simple design cues. A cantilevered, bench-style front seat is power-actuated. A floating center console runs the entire length of the interior, giving the impression of four-passenger bucket seating, while also serving to stiffen the vehicle’s structure.
The interior color theme is two-tone: black and burgundy. The black leather seats have burgundy leather seat backs. Burgundy leather also accents the upper door trim panels, instrument panel and package tray.
The car’s primary gauges are contained within a single round instrument binnacle – similar to the production ’49 and hot rods of the era. The analog tachometer takes center stage and is surrounded by the electronic speedometer. A two-tone, leather-wrapped steering wheel features cruise and radio controls on a metal ring, reminiscent of the "horn-ring" popular in the 1950s.
Powered by Thunderbird
The design under the hood is an obvious extension of the exterior design philosophy and the interior theme and an homage to hot-rodders’obsession with performance and appearance.
The engine bay is finished in satin black, stainless and chrome metal finishes throughout. Filtered interior air inlets are located at the trailing edge of the front wheel opening, and dual stainless steel exhausts penetrate the rear bumper fascia. The engine bay is not only cosmetic: The chrome "Powered by Thunderbird" badge on the side fender gives a hint at the powerplant under the hood.
The Forty-Nine concept is powered by a Thunderbird 3.9-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V-8, tuned to fit the car’s appearance and refined muscle.