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YOUNGER READERS: BE AWARE that this particular Bond car wasn’t 007’s. Rather, it belonged to John R. Bond, Technical Editor, when his article appeared in Road and Track, March, 1951. His experience puts into perspective the automotive—and enthusiast motorist’s—state of the art seven decades ago.
John’s Purchase. “Despite my intense enthusiasm for sports cars,” John wrote, “a new 1949 Ford V-8 Custom club coupe was purchased by the writer late in 1948. The car was intended for normal everyday use, for contemplated long trips, and to use as a ‘sort-of’ test car during construction of a sports car based on a similar chassis.” Of which more, one of these days.
John doesn’t mention his cost in late 1948, but nadaguides.com lists a 1949 Ford Custom 2 Door Club Coupe at $1595. Figure around $19,100 in equivalent dollars today.
Hmm. A 2012 Honda Crosstour base model listed for around $28,000 new, albeit with features that made a ’49 Ford look minimalist indeed. My fully loaded one was more like $32,000.
My dad had a ’50 Ford similar to John’s; it was the first car I got to drive, er… make that steer, when in my early teens.
Already an Enthusiast Modifier. John noted, “The car was revised slightly: a dual exhaust system with two stock mufflers was installed immediately, because I would not drive any V-8 with a single muffler.”
Curiously, six decades later my inline-4 Honda Crosstour inexplicably has twin exhaust pipes.
Other Bond Mods. John noted, “At 5000 miles the heads were milled and redomed to give 8.0:1 compression ratio.” John estimated an “extra 10 or 15 bhp.” The car’s stock flat-head V-8 displaced 239 cu. in. (3.9 L), had an original c.r. of 6.8:1, and produced perhaps 100 hp at 3600 rpm.
Average octane rating of the era’s gasolines was around 88, just a bit more than today’s regular unleaded 87.
My Crosstour’s 2.4-liter 16-valve double-overhead-cam i-VTEC engine has a compression ratio of 10.0:1 and produces 191 hp at 7000 rpm.
Performance. “The standing quarter mile,” John noted, “has been clocked at 19.62 seconds, the standing half-mile at approximately 32.5 seconds. Top speed is substantially 90 mph.”
I’ve never timed my Crosstour, but have official constabulary certification of its once exceeding the Ford’s top speed on a quick-moving California freeway.
Fuel Consumption, at 1951’s 27¢/Gal. John reported, “Fuel consumption varies from 16.0 to 19.6 miles per gallon. Two trips to the East Coast at an honest cruising speed of 70 mph most of the time gave 18.3 mpg.”
My Crosstour logbook shows slightly more economical fuel consumption, albeit these days in exclusively around-town driving. The Crosstour’s EPA numbers are 21 City/29 Highway/24 Combined. I’ve never seen 29 mpg; nor, alas, have I ever driven the car on an extensive highway trip.
Oil Consumption—Quite the Contrast. John wrote, “Oil consumption was, and still is, remarkably good. In 1949, on a 9000 mile trip, exactly 3 quarts of #20 oil were used—counting amount low at changes, etc. In 1950, with 42,000 miles registered, the trip to Watkins Glen resulted in only one quart of #30 consumed per 1000 miles.”
My italics, not John’s, because his “remarkably good” experience would be considered a lamentable oil-burner by today’s standards. Modern engines simply don’t consume oil.
My 2012 Crosstour’s odometer is currently reading just a bit more than half of the Bond Ford’s 48,000. The Crosstour’s exclusive use of Mobil 1 synthetic has its oil changes invariably dictated by calendar, not mileage. Honda’s recommendation: Oil changes at 7500 miles or six months, whichever comes first. My opinion: Mobil 1 (or likely another full synthetic as well) stretches this.
Other Bond Maintenance. John said, “The excellent economy on fuel and oil has been offset somewhat by fairly high maintenance cost, performed by the local dealer which, of course, is more expensive than doing it yourself. Items in this expense include 10 sets of breaker points, 5 sets of plugs, a new distributor, 4 voltage regulators, a new battery, new master cylinder, brake reline, 4 wheel alignments, repainting, tune-ups, and miscellaneous small items.”
“What are breaker points, Grandpa?” ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022