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A ’52 FORD—AND THOSE TESTING IT

A ROAD TEST VARIATION in Road and Track, April 1952, also provided staff automotive bios at the time. Here are tidbits on the test car, a Ford Customline, and its testers.

This and other images from Road and Track, April 1952.

Their Thesis: “Personal impressions, prejudices, and individual traits play a large part in road tests conducted by the press. Performance figures and physical dimensions are precise factors… opinions are subject to human multi-division. Every car, no matter how ugly or poorly built, has its rabid proponents.” 

“As a result,” the magazine said, “a new type of Road Test presentation has been devised… each member of the crew reports individually.… Choose up sides and let the fun begin!”

Editor Oliver Billingsley. “Have owned: Saxon 19??, Fordson, ’23 T. Ford, ’29, ’30, ’31, ’34, ’37, ’41, and ’42 Fords, ’31, ’33, and ’34 American Austins, ’39 Bantam, ’44 Ford Jeep, ’45 Studebaker Weasel, ’49 Renault, ’50 Morris Minor, ’51 MG TD Mk. II. I like small foreign cars. Would like to have: Aston-Martin, Jaguar XK-120, Ferrari, or Lancia Gran Turismo. Also a Morris Minor or new Austin 7.” 

“For the average American family,” Billingsley wrote, “Ford has produced a car which will please their taste and satisfy their demands. The Six with standard transmission is my choice….”

Managing Editor Bill Brehaut. “Cars owned include ’37 DeSoto, ’39 Plymouth, ’40 Ford, ’46 Ford 8, ’37 Cord, ’39 DeSoto, ’49 Ford 6, ’51 Henry J 6. Likes foreign cars. Would want MG but has family and needs 4-seater. Favorite car: Lancia.” 

“Personally,” Brehaut said, “I’d rather have the six than the eight, tho I would try out the standard transmission eight before deciding.”

“Violent cornering tactics,” Road and Track wrote, “produced a surprisingly small amount of roll.”

Promotional Director Bill Quinn. “Cars owned: ’51 Jaguar XK-120, ’48 Cadillac, ’41 Buick, plus 1937, 39, 46, 47, 49, and 51 Ford. Thinks for pure pleasure you couldn’t improve on the Jag (in its price class). Likes a high power/weight ratio. Goal is Ferrari America plus Ford for everyday use.”

Quinn concluded, “I would definitely say that of the two Fords, the 6 with standard transmission would be my choice.”

Assistant Editor Bob Dearborn. “Cars owned: ’26 Model T Ford, ’28 Model A, ’32 Buick Six, ’33 Cadillac, ’34 Buick, ’34 Ford, ’36 Ford, ’38 Ford, ’39 Ford, ’41 Ford, ’48 Plymouth, ’48 Chrysler, ’48 Austin A-40, ’49 Austin A-40, ’50 MG TD, ’52 Riley Sedan. Ideal: new Rolls sedan and a Frazer-Nash sports. Now driving Riley sedan for sports plus passenger space.” 

“I conclude my report,” Bob said, “as I started it. The Ford is ‘overall… a darn good car.’ ”

Agg! “A sharp dip at 37 mph brought both front wheels off the ground.” (The Ford was not alone among test cars provoked by the magazine into this antic.)

An Editor-to-be Appears Several Months Later. Dean Batchelor pinch-hit in May-June’s test of a Simca Aronde: “Cars owned: ’30 Chevrolet, ’39 Mercury, ’41 Pontiac, ’32 Ford Roadster, ’39 Ford Conv., ’36 Ford Coupe, ’39 Ford Sedan, ’27 T Roadster and a sports car under construction. Partner with Alex Xydias in ‘So-Cal Special’ 210 mph streamliner. Favorite cars—Aston-Martin DB.2, ’51 Ford.” 

So Where’s Technical Editor John R. Bond? John didn’t enter into these joint road tests until July 1952’s Hudson Hornet: “Cars owned: ’28 Ford, ’29 Ford, ’30 Ford, ’35 Chevrolet, ’37 Buick 60, ’40 Chevrolet, ’39 Buick, ’33 Terraplane 8, ’46 Ford 6, ’32 Ford V-8, ’47 Ford V-8, ’49 Ford V-8, ’49 MG TC. Now owns ’36 Ford, ’51 Chevrolet, ’50 Ford sports car under construction. Likes smaller cars, but not too small. Would like to own a Willys Aero for family use, a Ferrari America open 2-seater, and a 350 cc Jawa motorcycle.”

“Doesn’t usually write up road tests,” he added, “because he’s too critical.” 

Gee, John seemed perfectly cordial when I talked with him 27 years later. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022 

6 comments on “A ’52 FORD—AND THOSE TESTING IT

  1. -Nate
    July 29, 2022

    Nice but, I seem to have missed where it says how much it weighs .

    These were good cars in their day, I’d prolly go for a GM product .

    -Nate

    • simanaitissays
      July 29, 2022

      The Fords’ weights are shown in the Data Panel, 3210 and 3390 lb. “As tested” would have included driver and clock-puncher.

      • -Nate
        July 29, 2022

        Thanx ! I missed that .

        I like older vehicles, then and now, I don’t need a V8 to run away from most others in the twisty bits where I like to drive .

        I was fairly recently hipped to your most excellent writing, thank you .

        How do I create an avatar image / picture ? .

        TIA,

        -Nate

      • simanaitissays
        July 29, 2022

        Hello, Nate,
        Thanks for your kind words.
        I have a pic up top as part of WordPress, but do not have an avatar here. Alas, nor do I know how to gin one up.

  2. -Nate
    July 30, 2022

    O.K., For Substack I used this link to update your profile, it’s a bit wonky (I don’t ken computers) but seems to have worked in the end .

    -Nate

    • -Nate
      July 30, 2022

      OOPS ~ I *thought* I had a wordpress account (I did at one point) so I don’t understand how to help you here, sorry .

      -Nate

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