Ford Shelby Cobra

24 Most Eye-Catching Fords in History

It’s hard to believe that Ford has been making cars for over a hundred years. Ford began producing vehicles in 1903, which is incredible, meaning that the brand has cycled through all sorts of models. Some models are still on the market today; others have since been discontinued. Currently, there are 50 Ford models in production, and 61 have been discontinued.

When the Ford Model T hit the market in 1908, it quickly rose to success. Nearly 200,000 Model Ts were being produced by 1912. This amount grew to 501,000 by 1915. In 2023 alone, Ford sold almost 2 million vehicles, and Ford’s F-Series continues to be its most popular vehicle—and the best-selling vehicle in America.

Looking back, dozens of makes and models have become popular. Some have left an indelible mark on history, and these Ford models are still noteworthy today.

Ford Model T

Ford Model T
Image Credit: Richard Spiegelman/Flickr.

It’s impossible to exclude the Ford Model T from this list. This vehicle revolutionized the automotive industry, popularizing mass production as a vital tool in the development of automobiles. Even more, the Ford Model T made owning a car affordable by providing many Americans the opportunity to have reliable transportation.

Seeing as the Ford Model T was one of the first of very few vehicles in the world, it captured attention for what it represented for transportation and its style. Typically, Ford offered the car in a black color and mounted it on a 100-inch wheelbase chassis.

Approximately 100,000 Model Ts are still around today, but there are probably only around 10,000 out on the road. While the vehicle could only reach 45 mph and occasionally had to back up hills since it only had a 20-horsepower engine, the Ford Model T is considered one of the most influential cars of the 20th century, and it’s best known for how it shaped the Industrial Age.

Ford Deluxe Roadster

1936 Ford Deluxe Roadster
Image Credit: eduardo lopes/Flickr.

Before the Model T took off on a path to success, Ford created the Model A, Model B, and Model 18—to name a smattering of some of the other vehicles from the brand in the early 20th century.

In 1932, Ford introduced the Deluxe Roadster, an adaptation of the Model 18, but in convertible form. The Deluxe Roadster was a luxury roadster, and it prioritized status, not just transportation.

Ford installed a greyhound instead of a regular, blue-oval badge on top of the radiator cap. The headlights were mounted on an arched bar in between the front fenders. The car’s interior boasted leather seats and door panels, and there was a two-seat bench for driver and passenger.

Ford Anglia

FORD ANGLIA 1967
Image Credit: Staffan Andersson Using Albums !/Flickr.

The Ford Anglia was designed and produced by Ford UK in 1939. This car was intended to be a simple vehicle with a timeless design. Most importantly, Ford wanted the car to be affordable. Most Anglias came in Ford black, and later on, deluxe models were available for purchase.

The Anglia model generated Several subsequent series, each of which varied in style and structure. Some had a station-wagon-like appearance, while others looked similar to a small compact car. Anglia was typically only available in the United Kingdom and Australia. When it did make its way across the pond in the 1950s and 1960s, Americans were not interested in the Ford Anglia.

Ford Crestline

1953 Ford Crestline Sunliner Convertible
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Ford Crestline was produced between 1952 and 1954. The Crestline combines the Customline and Mainline, which came out around the same time as the Crestline. This full-sized luxury car only had a brief two-year reign, but it was Ford’s flagship model in that short window.

The Crestline came in three body styles: the two-door hardtop Victoria, the Sunliner Convertible, and the wood-trimmed Country Squire (an eight-passenger wagon). The option for a four-door sedan was added in 1954. The Crestline was available in three-speed manual, overdrive, or Fordomatic automatic transmission.

Ford Consul

Ford Consul
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Ford Consul was another vehicle produced solely by Ford UK. It was first revealed at the London Motor Show in 1950 and caused some commotion. The Consul was more advanced than anticipated and was the first British Ford to utilize unibody construction.

By 1953, the Ford Consul was available in a convertible model, including more updated technology. For example, this version employed a hydraulic clutch and fully hydraulic brakes. The Ford Consul was ahead of its time in many ways!

Ford F-Series

Ford F-Series
Image Credit: William Oliver/Flickr.

You’ll likely encounter this massive pickup truck whenever you’re on the road. The Ford F-Series launched in 1948, and it was an immediate hit because of its spacious cab area. The truck was comfortable and much more diverse in its capabilities than other pickup trucks.

Although the F-Series has gone through various iterations and stylings, the pickup truck reminds one of the best-selling trucks ever to be created. The car has gone from a rounded exterior to a boxier one with more rigid lines. Its style continues to evolve and match the needs and desires of its dedicated fan base.

Ford Thunderbird

1957 Ford Thunderbird
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

This classic Ford has been described as a “morale builder.” The Ford Thunderbird debuted when the world was still recovering from World War II and envisioned the possibilities ahead—the Thunderbird combined style, affordability, and speed. Although the Thunderbird ceased production in the mid-1990s, the vehicle was crucial to the Ford brand, both mid-century and today.

The Ford Thunderbird left a legacy because of its speed, luxury, agility, and two-seat sports car appeal. Although the vehicle lost some appeal by the 1970s, the Thunderbird represents a distinct point in American history, culture, and style.

Ford Edsel

1958 Ford Edsel
Image Credit: Peter Granström/Flickr.

Although its production years were limited to two years, the Ford Edsel was a classy car known to be a massive flop. The car was named after Henry Ford’s son, and it ended up getting its division of the company for creation.

The Edsel came in 18 models, but it needed to do far better than any car on the market to reach its sales goals. In short, the car needed to meet its sales goals.

While the vehicle would’ve done well in any other market, too many similar models were available. The Edsel catered to a budding professional family. While it struck a happy medium in style and personality, the car was a flop. However, its failure made it a popular vehicle to remember.

Ford Fairlane

1955 Ford Fairlane
Image Credit: GTHO/WikiCommons.

The Ford Fairlane, named after Henry Ford’s estate in Dearborn, Michigan, saw seven generations. Two-door, four-door, station wagon, and convertible options were available. Initially, the Fairlane was introduced as the first full-size Ford and later became one of the brand’s base models.

The Fairlane had a unibody frame with a slight adaptation, which allowed Ford to embed boxed structures into the body to absorb road shock. The first two styles of the Fairlane mostly stayed the same. Still, the third generation introduced a new horsepower option that kept the model competitive with other cars produced in the Detroit area.

Ford Mustang

2014 Ford Mustang
Image Credit: Mecum Auctions/Pinterest.

The Ford Mustang has been in production since 1965 and is the longest-produced Ford vehicle. The Mustang is the fifth best-selling Ford car, best described as a pony car. The Mustang adapted the best of Ford’s previous models, producing a line of sleek, sporty coupes.

When the Mustang debuted, Ford was expected to sell 100,000 vehicles. To Ford’s surprise, the Mustang became the most successful vehicle since the 1927 Model A. When the Mustang launched, several competitors entered the game, eager to produce something better. Many have wondered about the Ford Mustang’s longevity, and this pony car will soon retire around for a while.

Ford Bronco

Ford Bronco 302 (1969 - 1977)
Image Credit: Charles/Flickr.

The first SUV to be sold by Ford was the Bronco, which appeared in 1966.

The Ford Bronco was revived in 2021 for its sixth generation. When the Bronco emerged as a compact off-road vehicle, it competed against the Jeep CJ-5. In 1966, following the decline of two-door SUVs, the Ford Bronco was discontinued.

The Bronco boasts 35″ tires and a high-lift suspension. The front axles were updated, leading to a longer wheelbase. The current Bronco also has an aluminum shield under the front bumper, which protects the engine from rocks and debris. This vehicle is ready for off-road adventures.

Ford Capri

1973 Ford Capri RS3100
Image Credit: Jaimie Wilson/Flickr.

The Ford Capri originated from Ford of Europe in 1968. The Ford Capri was designed by Philip T. Clark, the same individual who created the Ford Mustang, and he used some mechanical aspects from the Ford Cortina in the Capri. The Capri was meant to be a European version of the Ford Mustang.

In November 1968, the Ford Capri was revealed at the Brussels Motor Show in hopes of becoming the European pony car. The car was initially trendy and soon branched into the Australian market. Over time, the vehicle was modified to appeal more to everyday driving—especially instead of the 1973 oil crisis.

The rise of hatchbacks in the 1980s sent the Ford Capri to an early grave. The car also appeared briefly in America, but the market was too saturated for the model to survive. The Capri had a decent run, nearly two decades, but ultimately, it became a thing of the past.

Ford Torino Talladega

1969 Ford Torino Talladega
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

It’s easy to believe that this car was named after the Talladega Superspeedway, so if you thought there was a connection, you guessed correctly! The Ford Torino Talladega is a muscle car that lasted a few weeks. The model didn’t make it past the first quarter of 1969.

Only 754 Ford Torino Talladegas were made, and one was created specifically for the president of Ford Motor Company in March 1969. As of 2021, 183 Ford Torino Talladegas were registered, and about six were found as crushed cars.

Although Ford Torino Talladegas only had an exceptionally brief run, the car was known for its aerodynamic capabilities, a sleek front section, and a close-fitting bumper to help with high speeds.

Ford Shelby Cobra

Ford Shelby Cobra
Image Credit: Maurizio Boi/Flickr.

The Ford Shelby Cobra resulted from a collaborative effort between Ford and Carroll Shelby. The finished product was a sleek and stylish sports car. The British Company AC Cars manufactured the vehicle, necessitating its name: AC Cobra. However, the Cobra was referred to as the Shelby Cobra in the United States. The vehicle was equipped with a Ford V8 engine.

While the Shelby Cobra was primarily produced in the UK, it had intermittent appearances in the United States. Carroll Shelby, the retired race car driver from America, contacted AC Cars and asked for a car modified to hold a V8 engine. After much back and forth, Ford decided that they wanted a car to compete with the Corvette, and after much collaboration, Ford provided Shelby with the required engine for his dream car.

Only about 998 Cobras were built until AC stopped producing the ACE body the sports car was known for.

Ford GT40

1964 Ford GT40
Image Credit: Adam Swank/Flickr.

The Ford Raptor is often noted as the GT40 of off-road pickup trucks. If you’re unfamiliar with the Ford GT40, it’s a racing car built by Ford from 1964-1969. After the Ford Grand Touring, the Ford GT40 appeared as a counterpart to the European Ferrari. The GT40 was victorious, winning multiple races from 1966 to 1969.

The Ford GT40 had its first race in May 1964, but it ended up having suspension failure. Today, it’s estimated that there are only three GT40 vehicles left. One of the few remaining cars is valued at over $7 million. The Ford GT40, though a blip in history, had an interesting and exciting racing arc.

Ford Fiesta

2015 Ford Fiesta
Image Credit: Jiří Sedláček/WikiCommons.

The Ford Fiesta is a compact hatchback that quickly gained attention upon its release in 1976. The model was on the market until 2023, and at its discontinuation, 20 million Fiestas had been sold. Ford’s European location primarily manufactured the Fiesta. The appeal of the Fiesta was its compact design. It was also one of the most miniature cars designed by Ford at its release.

The Ford Fiesta was initially proposed to be named the “Bravo.” Although Henry Ford II vetoed the name, Bravo was later used for a different vehicle. With over seven generations before its discontinuation, the Ford Fiesta underwent several changes: square to circular headlights, other engines, and new platforms. The Fiesta’s production ended because Ford needed space to produce more electric vehicles.

Ford Crown Victoria

1992 Ford Crown Victoria
Image Credit: Igor Igor/Flickr.

Perhaps you’ve seen this car appear in your rearview window with its flashing lights, and it sent chills down your spine. The Ford Crown Victoria is best known for being the “Best Police Cruiser of All Time,” which explains why you might feel nervous if you catch a glimpse of this car while you’re going a little too fast. The car came out in 1983, and in 2023, it celebrated its 40th birthday.

The Crown Victoria is a low-cost vehicle, solidifying it as an outstanding police car. It’s also a solidly built vehicle, which has also helped it become a popular choice for taxis. The car uses a body-on-frame architecture that specifically protects the vehicle against impact. Likewise, having a large body with a deep trunk makes it well-equipped to be a police car or taxi.

Ford Escort RS Cosworth

1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
Image Credit: Calreyn88/WikiCommons.

This British car is simple: the Ford Escort RS Cosworth. The vehicle was initially designed to race in the World Rally Championship and competed from 1993 to 1998. The car was also available for regular drivers to purchase between 1992 and 1996. The Escort RS Cosworth was developed to match the mechanics and design of a Sierra Cosworth. Ford ended up producing a car that could hold a Cosworth engine inside the frame of a Ford Escort.

The vehicle could reach 150 mph, and it rivaled the BMW M3 and the Audi Coupe S2. This Ford took the Escort RS Cosworth’s rally racing background, making it a stylish, fun drive for auto enthusiasts. The car could seamlessly go from racetrack to city streets, and all of the variations and drive train each represented Ford’s desire for excellence. Only 7,145 of these cars were ever produced, and very few made it to the United States.

Ford Aerostar

Ford Aerostar
Image Credit: William Olive/Flickr.

The Ford Aerostar offered the perfect blend of reliability and family-friendliness. Its boxy, sloped-nose front exterior gave it its unique look. It was the first minivan to be produced by Ford, and a V6 engine exclusively powered it. In 1995, the Ford Windstar replaced the Aerostar, and while the minivans were sold concurrently until 1997, the Windstar ultimately beat out the Aerostar.

While the Winstar forced its predecessor into oblivion, the Ford Aerostar was unfortunately beaten out by Chrysler minivans. The Aerostar shares some similarities with the Dodge Caravan, but the Ford Aerostar continues to remind Ford fans of the brand’s evolution and commitment to appealing to its loyal customers.

Ford Focus RS

Ford Focus RS
Image Credit: Charles01/WikiCommons.

The Ford Focus RS had a claimed maximum speed of 165 mph, and in its final year of production in 2018, it had been packed with a turbocharged engine, an all-wheel drive system, and sport suspension. After twenty years, the sporty hatchback saw its tenure end, only selling 1000 in the United States in two colors: a bright blue and a vibrant red.

The original Ford Focus was first revealed in Europe in 1998, but by September 1999, the car was making its debut in the United States, just in time for the 2000 model year. The car came in several options: three-door hatchback, four-door sedan, and five-door wagon. A five-door hatchback was introduced in 2001.

The RS was launched in 2002, with 19-inch wheels painted, which became standard for the car. Many claimed the car was uncomfortable, but the coloring was fantastic.

Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion (2nd generation)
Image Credit: Alexander Migl/WikiCommons.

Now retired, the Ford Fusion captured a sophisticated style for the driver who craved class and reliability. The Fusion first came out in 2005 and was the first car to feature a three-bar grille design. The sedan also offered two options: a 160 horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 221 horsepower V6 engine.

After three years, the Ford Fusion underwent a series of improvements and upgrades that increased its miles per gallon. Although the vehicle had cutting-edge technology, its sales needed to be higher. The Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus made their way out together as sedan sales decreased.

Ford Explorer

1990 Ford Explorer
Image Credit: Men’s Journal/Pinterest.

The Ford Explorer is the ultimate family car—with style. This full-sized SUV came out in 1991, and it’s been a fan favorite for over three decades. The Explorer was first meant as a replacement for the Ford Bronco, but it quickly made a name for itself. The SUV has been offered in multiple chassis and powertrains, and its exterior has morphed since its debut.

The Ford Explorer has adapted its boxy exterior to its current sculpted bodywork. The latest generation offers all-wheel drive, and it’s continued to improve with each generation. It gets excellent scores for its reliability, but it could have a better fuel economy. Despite its limitations, the Ford Explorer remains a fantastic option for those looking for a spacious yet stylish SUV.

Ford Ranger

2003 Ford Ranger
Image Credit: Greg Gjerdingen/WikiCommons.

The Ford Ranger, currently in its fourth generation, experienced a seven-year pause between 2011 and 2018. The truck was revived in 2018, and it is considered a great compact alternative to Ford’s F-Series. The Ford Ranger was noted as the best-selling compact truck from 1987 to 2004. During its discontinuation period, Ford focused on the F-Series but later realized the usefulness and popularity of the Ranger.

The Ford Ranger wasn’t meant to replace the Ford F-150, nor did it. The Ranger emerged in a market that needed a smaller pickup, and throughout its production cycles, it offered durability, a powerful engine, and off-road capabilities. The Ford Ranger also came in an electric model during the early aughts, and it’s estimated that about 400 of these trucks are still in existence today.

As the pickup market expanded, Ford brought back the Ranger, and it continues to remain a popular option for those seeking a smaller pickup.

Ford Escape

2007 Ford Escape
Image Credit: Ryan Rutkowski/Flickr.

Since 2000, the Ford Escape has been providing drivers with a compact SUV option that is durable and stylish. The Escape takes the best qualities and capabilities of the Ford Explorer but condenses them into a smaller SUV style. The Ford Escape also came in a hybrid option, the first hybrid SUV ever produced.

Although the Ford Escape has been produced under several different names, the Escape has been the one to withstand the test of time. While some carmakers use pickup truck body frames for their SUVs, Ford uses a unibody design that helps the vehicle carry a heavy load while still maintaining its handling and offering a comfortable ride.

Author: Marisa Higgins

Bio:

Marisa Higgins is a lover of good storytelling, and she’s spent the past decade teaching college English, and writing and researching about American Literature and Culture. She lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband, and their Beagle-Chihuahua, Rumi, and cat, Rory. Marisa’s work can be found at A-Z Animals, FuelsFix, and TellTaleTV. You can visit her website here: www.marisadhiggins.com

 

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