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BOND’S ’49 FORD AT 48,000

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 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.

“Many readers,” Road and Track captioned, “have inquired about the ‘shaving’ of Technical Editor Bond’s car. The hood ornament and Ford name above the grille were removed as were the license plate holder and trunk latch on the rear deck. This California modification aroused considerable interest in the East.” Isn’t that always the way? 

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,, 2022  

10 comments on “BOND’S ’49 FORD AT 48,000

  1. Bill Urban
    July 14, 2022

    Dennis, remember when I accused Honda of copying my ’88 Mazda 626 hatchback design?
    I owned a ’40 Ford in the ’60s but it was OHV Cad powered with two Carter AFBs and a LaSalle three speed, treasured memories.
    Fast fwd to the 21st century: My 2022 Volvo S60 hybrid sedan, since Sept. 21 (and through the winter in Pa.): 6378 miles; app says ~34% propelled by battery; 116.22 gallons; 54.8 MPG.
    Perhaps 80% better than a “ICE only” car with a comparable 400HP and 470 lbs. ft.? 54 is double the U.S. fleet average . . . good enough for me, keep that EV. And I have two ways to “fuel” my car, double all the others.

    • Jack Albrecht
      July 14, 2022

      Thanks, Bill. That is the kind of real-world review I keep looking for regarding hybrids. I love the thought of full electric, but too many issues are still in flux (see what I did there?). So my wife and I are looking at hybrids for when we eventually need to replace our ICE car.

      We don’t actually need to replace it any time soon, but keep seeing how the world is going and wonder if maybe hedging and having the possibility to drive 95% electric (what our usage would be) wouldn’t be better.

  2. Bob Storck
    July 14, 2022

    My first car.
    In 1958, we lived in Pacific Beach, and I had an after school job at Convair Astronautics, then making the Atlas missile, which double as an ICBM and a space probe/astronaut carrier … eventually. I was an Engineering Assistant, which meant I’d clean up the drawing boards of engineers, sharpen their pencils, run blueprints, etc. I’d pedal the 7 miles on my bike down Balboa Ave, up the busy section climbing Clairemont Mesa. I was in a lot better shape then.
    One of the engineers was on loan from Convair Ft. Worth, and he had a housing/transportation allowance. Instead of renting a car, he bought a used base model ’49 Ford business coupe with the flathead V8 and three on the tree. When he went back to TX, he felt it would be unethical (strange attitudes back then) to sell it as he had already been paid via his allowance. So, taking pity on my sweaty bike ride, he gave it to me.
    I was 14 at the time, was flying sailplanes at Torrey Pines, and tall … even with a stubble. He obviously thought I was older, so it was “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    July 14, 2022

    Thought at first it was the 3 wheeler Bond.John  McNulty Remember me?, Morgan owner.

    • simanaitissays
      July 14, 2022

      Of course, I remember you and your Morgan. In my lucid moments, which come only rarely now, I miss my Four-Pass.

  4. Tom Schultz
    July 14, 2022

    Dear Dennis

    I was a young (13 y/o) gas jockey in 1967 and there were many 1950’s cars that came up to the gas pumps, ALWAYS needing a quart of Esso HD 30w oil. Sometimes 50w if the car was particularly worn out. Anyways!”, the amount of maintenance was a long list as you’ve already mentioned. In Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, we had extreme weather on both sides of the scale – cold winters, hot Summers and everything else in between.

    An oil change and lubrication of the suspension (we called it chassis back then) was necessary every 2000 to 3000 mikes – never any further! The car was put up on a lift, the giant oil plug turned out with an invariably black sludge like oil pouring out of the pan. The oil filters were in various locations and always difficult to replace (283 chev’s the worst because the the gasket usually leaked) Air filters were sometimes oil bath type and were awful to service. We serviced all makes and models but did not like English cars and Volkswagens. We rarely saw Volvos, BMW’s and Mercedes. The odd French car showed up and we shrugged our shoulders and gave up…

    Many, many items to service and replace. My 2005 Miata only needed oil changed and filters for 10 years. My 2008 Acura TL the same. My 2016 Ford F-250 Diesel – just oil changes every 10,000 kms and filters. My 2020 Mazda CX-9 the same.

    • simanaitissays
      July 14, 2022

      You reminded me that my Consul conv had an oil-bath air cleaner. And it seemed to eat voltage regulators. A perfectly nice English Ford. My steelworker dad let me buy it because it looked like a small version of his ‘55 Ford conv. I thank you and others here for the memory jog.

  5. Mike B
    July 15, 2022

    Early (until the late 1960s at least) VWs weren’t stellar in terms of maintenance either. They had no oil filter (adding one was a common hot-rod tweak), so oil had to be changed about every 500 miles. The 6V electrics (with the battery under the back seat) in my Dad’s ’63 always had things failing; you learned bump starts early. Clutches and brakes had to be replaced regularly (driving around San Francisco). But except for the oil change thing it was better than a lot of small foreign cars of the time, since being air-cooled at least one major failure system (cooling) was missing entirely.

    That said, I learned shift points by ear because Dad had me shift for him, from the passenger seat…

    My first owned car was an Open that leaked so much oil I joked that all I needed to do was keep it topped up, never changing it.

    With modern cars needing so little maintenance, we’ve gotten used to just driving. It wasn’t always that way.

    • Mike B
      July 15, 2022

      Fingers: it was an Opel not an Open.

    • Bob Storck
      July 16, 2022

      To continue to wander slightly off the thread, recall that it used to be rare to be able to drive very far without spying a smoking car. Most service stations had flat rate prices on valve and ring jobs with a valve grinder on the workbench.

      By contrast, in the 90s, I chatted up a young lady driving a clean and spiffy Toyota MR2 Turbo (she was even spiffier!)
      Making small talk, I asked if her turbo burned much oil. “Very little,” she claimed, “I only have to add oil occasionally … just when the ‘Add Oil’ light comes on!”
      Noting that the MR2 only had a low oil pressure light, I asked how often she changed oil. “Never,” she replied blissfully. And no exhaust smoking as she left.
      I had noted the odo indicated over 50K miles. Dang durable Toyotas.

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