Automotive History: Shockingly Low Volume Production Cars – The Ford Edition

(first posted 5/18/2017)     With Part One of this Low Production series having focused on Chevrolet, it only seems natural to turn our attention to its long-time rival, Ford.  As with Chevrolet, we are looking at the timespan of 1946 to 1995.

One huge item of note for Ford as well as future installments is the automakers were not consistent in how they recorded their sales.  Where Chevrolet would break down production numbers by engine, Ford has generally done so by body style.  It’s difficult to paint the same picture using different paints and canvases, but we’re giving it our best shot.

There has been no pretense of this series being all-encompassing; rather, it’s to point out a few surprises to go along with those cars we likely would have suspected.  As before, production volumes of less than 1,000 are the focus, with two minor exceptions for this Ford installment.

1946 shown

1948 Super Deluxe Sportsman convertible

Production:  28

With the post-war years being a sellers market for automobiles, there were still some that never achieved sales popularity.  Reasons for that are many, but in the case of this Ford, its price of $2,282 was almost twice the price of a Deluxe Six two-door coupe at $1,154.

Another reason for the paltry sales numbers is because Ford was focused on the nearly all-new 1949 models, introduced in June 1948, rendering the 1948 model year to be somewhat abbreviated.  As proof of this, the Super Deluxe Sportsman convertible had sales of 2,274 for 1947.

However, things tend to go full-circle.  A 1948 Super Deluxe Sportsman convertible sold at auction in 2009 for $275,000.

1956 Crown Victoria Skyliner

Production:  603

A Crown Victoria whose frontal section of roof was replaced with green-tinted plexiglass, this could have been considered the ancestor to the moonroof.  While these looked good, and were a boon to the narcissist who wanted to be seen, the reality was the plexiglass showed itself to be horrendous for passengers on sunny days.

This option came about in 1954; 1,999 were sold in 1955.  It seems its ability to broil was quickly known and it disappeared after 1956.  Mercury had a similar option, one we will likely see later.

1960 Custom 300

Production:  572 (sedan), 302 (two-door)

It doesn’t take much to figure out a car will have low production if the factory brochures for taxicabs don’t even make any reference to its existence.  Such is the case for the 1960 Ford Custom.

Courtesy of Sally Sublette.

At least the salesman’s reference has mention of it.  Otherwise, it might seem the 1960 Ford Custom 300 would be the stuff of urban legend.  Or maybe not…

1961 Custom 300

Production:  303 (sedan), 49 (two-door)

Undoubtedly conceived in the same philosophy as the 1960 Custom 300, production dropped for 1961.  No doubt these stripped Custom 300s made this basic Fairlane look downright opulent.

While they were pretty barren, it’s unlikely they came as stripped as the one seen here.

1965 Falcon Futura five-passenger convertible

Production:  124

Chalk this one up as a fluke of sorts; the five-passenger version would have reflected a console.  The six-passenger Futura convertible had a production run of 6,191.  It goes to show that once upon a time people thought consoles were wasteful and superfluous.

However, to show all is not a fluke, the 1965 Falcon Sprint convertible had a production run of only 300.

1967 Falcon shown

1970 Falcon Futura wagon

Production:  1,005

By 1970, the Falcon had lived its life and it was being supplanted by the new Maverick, itself a car that used the Falcon’s platform extensively.

None of the 1970 Falcons sold in large volume; the most popular was a four-door sedan like this one that sold a meager 5,300 units.  Factoring in the less popular wagon with the upper tier Futura trim, it’s easy to see why barely 1,000 of them were produced.

1975 shown; there is no discernible difference

1977 Custom 500 Ranch Wagon

Production:  1,406

For years, Ford was king of the hill when it came to full-sized wagons.  And for 1977, they still had nothing to sneeze at as the LTD and Country Squire wagons sold nearly 91,000 units between them.

Yet, like in 1960 and 1961, you know something is amiss of there is no reference to a particular model in the brochures.  But, searching further, there was reference to the Custom 500 wagon in a specific brochure; it just wasn’t a brochure that you would readily find at the dealership.

While this brochure is also from 1975, it’s safe to figure the Ranch Wagon didn’t go upscale any for 1977.  Sales for the Ranch Wagon were 6,900 for 1975 and dropped to 4,600 for 1976.  The trend of this LTD sub-series wagon simply dropped further for 1977.  It was discontinued for 1978.

1978 shown

1979 LTD II S hardtop coupe

Production:  834

For 1979, Ford had the new full-sized LTD sitting in showrooms next to the old, mid-sized LTD II.  The new full-sized LTD cost around $600 more but weighed 300 pounds less when comparing base two-door models.

This is what happens when Junior outweighs his Pappy as the LTD II S two-door had sold 9,000 examples for 1978.  Times were changing.  Mostly.

Which leads us to…

1979 shown

1980 LTD S two-door sedan

Production:  553

Not all Panther cars were wildly popular.  The S-series for 1980 was likely an extension of the fleet sales intent seen previously (there was no two-door “S” series in 1979 nor 1981) combined with the economy in the United States at this time being in the toilet.  Further, let us not forget the Panther cars hit the ground with somewhat of a thud upon their introduction in 1979.

Might this be the most rare Panther platform car of all?

Stay tuned for our next installment; there is still a lot to cover.