Cohort Classic: 1951 Ford With Big Airstream Trailer – The Almost Long, Long Trailer

CC reader David G. sent me a terrific set of photos he shot of a 1951 Ford with a large Airstream trailer. He obviously knows I have a thing for shots of cars with outsized trailers. We’ll take up the technicalities of a 100 hp Ford pulling a big Airstream, but let’s just say it used to be done, back in the day, and not uncommonly.

What I’m really smitten with is the Ford, as it’s a vintage we’ve not spent much time with here at CC. Obviously a big part of the appeal is its condition, which is to my liking, if not yours. Originality trumps restoration; that’s my motto. And this one is dripping with it.

The big change for 1951 was the transition away from the “spinner” in the center of the grille of the ’49-’50 models, to a new front end direction that presaged the 1952 and up years. Actually, I much prefer the original look, and was never a fan of the ’51s, but I can’t hold it against this venerable survivor.

There’s certainly plenty of visual interest there.

Not surprisingly, it wears its V8 badge proudly. I don’t know what the breakout was between the 95 hp 226 inch flathead six versus the 100 hp 239 inch flathead V8; undoubtedly the V8 had the majority. FWIW, the six was actually a better choice for most buyers, as it had almost the exact same power but a healthier torque curve, due to it having fewer cylinders and being a somewhat more modern design. But the six’s life was to be short-lived, as it was replaced in 1952 with an all-new 215 inch ohv six, which really was a better choice than the flathead V8.

But the V8 was of course a Ford icon, and had a loyal following. And of course speed equipment for it was widely and cheaply available.

A look inside shows an attractive instrument panel.

Nice textures.

And there’s an occupant in the back seat. But the additional weight of that occupant is not going to diminish the trailer towing capacity much.

And a miniature mummy too. Is the Kennedy sticker original or reproduction?

Looks like a wrench hiding behind the bumper override.

The flathead’s distinctive exhaust note undoubtedly is mighty fine from the side pipes.

Here they are in their full glory. What a fine pair, although the Airstream is about 15 or 20 years too new.

It should really look more like this one.

If you’re wondering about a flathead V8 pulling a long trailer, a Mercury version became iconic in the movie “The Long, Long Trailer”. It sported a slightly larger 255 inch version, with a whopping 125 hp.

Here’s a better view of the length of this rig. Even then, the back end is cut off.

Admittedly, in the scene here where the 39 foot long New Moon trailer is pulled up the steep mountain road (Whitney Portals Road) a somewhat stouter Lincoln with a 205 hp 317 inch V8 was disguised as the Mercury used in the less challenging parts of the movie.

I’m not exactly sure how long this Airstream is; looks like a 30 footer.

It appears that the Airstream is gutted inside and about to be made-over.

A Sovereign.

By now you’ve probably seen through my pathetic attempt at deception, and noticed that the trailer tongue is resting on its jack and that the Ford doesn’t even have a hitch. But that’s ok; we can all use our imaginations. And it’s not really all that far-fetched, or it wasn’t once upon a time.