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What is: The American flag on the house and truck panels.

What was: Sitting at the side of the road on route 66, todays SUV’s heritage can be traced back to the panel truck, like this one.

In 1917, nine years after the first Model T, Ford introduced their first truck based on the Model T. By 1942, Ford had made a departure from sharing passenger car styling with the truck line and gave its delivery truck line a new style. However, shortly after the new models were introduced, the US entered WWII. The production of civilian vehicles was halted. Ford retooled to concentrate on building a variety of military vehicles, as well as aircraft engines and bombers.

In 1947, under the guidance of Henry Ford’s grandson, Henry Ford II, a new direction for Ford trucks would take place, beginning in 1948 with the introduction of the standard setting F-Series. The F-1 series were panel trucks and featured a wider, longer, and taller cabs. Heater only, No Defroster. Running boards curved over the frame and under the cab. Many of the trucks Ford built between 1945 and 1947 were shipped with a tireless rim in the spare tire holder because of a lingering post war rubber shortage.

The Ford F-series truck has been built continuously since 1948, and has since sold more than 40 million models. — making it the fifth most popular vehicle ever produced.


What is: A Ford panel sedan delivery truck, at the side of the road, Route 66

What was: Chevrolet is often credited with offering the first true sedan delivery body style in 1928. However, Ford was a leading purveyor of Sedan Delivery vehicles throughout the 1930s. Much of the sheet metal, including the fenders and front doghouse, is shared with the ’37 Ford passenger car. In the 1940s Ford’s Sedan Deliveries carried the styling of Deluxe-series cars — slated “gills” flanking a horizontal-bar grille. Sedan Deliveries also got a larger cargo body that year.

Inside was a beautiful art-deco dashboard, in contrasting colors. Standard equipment included a column gearshift, dual wipers and visors, ashtrays on both sides, full insulation and interior lining — even a clock. Many connoisseurs of design declare it the best-looking sedan delivery ever. There were about 5300 Ford Sedan Delivery models made in 1940. The 1942 Ford Sedan Delivery is rare, as all civilian vehicle manufacturing was halted shortly after Pearl Harbor. Passenger car-based delivery models would not return at Ford until 1952.

Panel trucks were used by construction and maintenance contractors, by farmers for selling fruits and vegetables, delivery vehicles and configured as ambulances and hearses.

The period of time spanning the late 1940’s to the late 1950’s was the golden age of the Sedan Delivery. While Chevrolet and Ford dominated the Sedan Delivery market, a few other manufacturers (such as Pontiac and Studebaker) got in on the action as well. In 1960, Ford’s Sedan Delivery ambitions were transferred from the full-sized Ford line to the brand-new Falcon platform. The Falcon-based vehicle was offered through 1965.