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Color Selection for the 1952 Models at the Ford Motor Co.

Today’s feature image is a Ford press photo taken in a styling showroom located at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan. Over sixty scale styling models painted in various colors and combinations are arranged diagonally on the wooden flooring for inspection by L.D Crusoe (with paper and pen in hand) a vice-president at the Ford Division. Assisting Crusoe is Randall A. Osmon one of the Automaker’s color and finish stylists.

After selecting a smaller number of the color and two-tone combos chosen for this showroom display, full-sized models are then prepared, painted and put on display in a larger showroom. After another inspection by other Company officials, the final color choices for the 1952 model year were then selected.

Share with us what you find of interest in the Ford News Bureau photograph or can add to the story. The lead image is courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

31 responses to “Color Selection for the 1952 Models at the Ford Motor Co.

  1. Somewhere in my files, I have the color version of this photo; a B&W simply doesn’t do it justice. A long time ago I was at a swap meet outside of Dallas one searing hot July day, and one of these ‘models’ was on a table for sale. The guy wanted like, $500. for it, which was a King’s ransom at the time. I recognized it instantly, and asked him where he got it. He said it was his father’s, who worked at FoMoCo after the war. By then it was chipped and the paint was crazing, but I knew what it was. I had to pass on it, but as of today I have yet to see another one!

  2. It must have been a much more difficult job back then. One of the things that really stands out for cars of the 1950s is the rainbow of colors from pastels to bold primary shades. Of course, this made it possible for two-tone and even three-tone cars in a wide variety of hues that changed over the years and gave each car a unique look. Today a new car buyer has about ten choices, mostly variations of gray, silver or beige. Sadly, gone are the days of Coral Flame, Fern Mist Green and Mandarin Orange.

    • Don’t be sad. It seems that those 50’s colors are now being revived. I personally think they are refreshing and look good on the more sculptured surfaces of today’s designs.

    • You’re so right. Just bought a new car and only color choices we had for model we chose were bland and bland metallic. Today’s Mopar choices seem to have the best color options, but none of those were in the cards.

    • I was surprised to discover that you don’t even get an interior color choice in some cars this year. You pick the exterior color and you get the interior color without choice.

  3. I’m surprised they were doing color comparisons indoors but maybe they were more concerned with how cars would appear in the showroom than on the street.

    I had a 1965 Ford convertible whose color was “Vintage Burgundy” and that appeared on the registration document as “V.Burg”. Soon after New York, and perhaps other states, settled on some standard color names and my car became maroon.

  4. Pretty slick looking styling models for 1951. I like the forward slanted B pillar and the wrap around lower belt line. They have a substantial “lincolnest” flare . The dark one in the foreground shows the lines well. I would think selecting colors based on how a color highlights an actual cars styling would dictate models styled closer to the production car. Nothing on these models really stands out and says 1952 FORD though.

    • While it took Ford over 10 years to reach this styling point, Studebaker did put into production in 1953 their Lowey/Bourke-styled coupes with features seen here: Low sleek lines, sloping hood, wrap around rear window, etc.

  5. In my copy of Ford at fifty” , on page 79 there appears a similar photo in color of the ’53 Ford colors. 76 models showing 88 colors and two-tone combos

  6. There is a similar picture on page 79 of the FoMoCo publication “Ford At 50” with the cars in a radial pattern , with two gentlemen in the center. I’ve had the book since I was a kid – June of ’53.. My dad was a mechanic in a Ford garage owned by Robert “Bob” Bryant, nephew of Clara Bryant Ford. As a developing gearhead in the 50s, I consumed that book cover to cover on a regular basis..

  7. This photo, or one very similar to it was used in “Ford at Fifty”, the company’s 50th Anniversary tribute book. In black-and-white it looks like a 2018 color palette, with the exception of the red mentioned above.

    What I noticed for the first time, but was absolutely not unusual then, is the floor standing ashtray at the back of the room.

  8. Some of the color choices being offered today makes one want to stay with grey. The local Chevrolet dealer has a new Spark painted in what GM calls “sorbet”. It looks more like Pepto-Bismol. They’re going to have a rough time unloading that one.

    The ’50s cars were designed for bright multiple colors. Chrylser had some beauties and Studebaker had a yellow/green combo that actually worked.

  9. Mike Canfield- what is probably more unusual is that there is only one ashtray. I remember lining up at the bank and every post holding the ropes to guide you to the tellers had an ashtray in it. Of course there were more ashtrays at the counter. My 1974 Fleetwood has five ashtrays in it!

    • Agreed. I come from an era where we trained car salespeople that if, after presenting the price proposal, the prospect lit up a cigarette it meant he (always he) was relaxed and the salesperson should go for the close. But, today, when you seldom see an ashtray at all that one stood out.

  10. I used to order GM test cars for a GM division. There used to be a “Non-standard color combination” special box on Cadillac order forms that allowed you to combine any exterior and interior color you wantetd. Example: A dark blue Caddy convertable with a red leather interior was a non-standard combination.

    Even into the ’80’s, Cadillac still allowed you to customize the interiors with such things as contrast welting on the seats and several trapunto designs ( padded stitching design on the seat where your back touches).

    • Indeed, my father ordered his first Cadillac in 1968 with what I believe was non-standard: Topaz Gold Firemist, black convertible top and saddle leather interior. I recall he had some doubts and fretted for the two months it took to deliver his car. When it came, however, he was delighted.

      In fact, he liked his car so much, he hung on to it and now I own it. My wife and I are not as wild about the color as he was and as I consider restoring it, I think about some of the other great colors that Cadillac offered in ’68. But , in honor of his memory, that’s a tough call.

  11. My mother had a ’52 two door in jade or maybe split-pea green.
    Nice car, but she must have not ordered the forward slanting pillar.

  12. Strange how Ford went to all that trouble building those models and yet never came close to producing anything that resembled that kind of a car, although it does have a few styling similarities with the 1956 Lincoln. There is a video available on youtube that is in color and features many miniature 1949 Fords in a variety of colors – and that car definitely got built. I think that such a car as seen above would have been a hit with the customers, and certainly would have sold better than the Edsel model!

  13. As I have delt in model cars for many years, my first thought upon seeing the picture was how much those little cars would be worth to today’s collectors! Unfortunately, most were probably pitched in the garbage at the end of their use.

  14. I wonder what color the floor was since the light bouncing off the floor would affect the appearance of the color of the cars. It looks to be a medium brown wood parquet so any light or pale colors would appear warmer than they actually might be. A neutral gray color, like the real-life pavement they would be driving on, would give more accurate results.

    I had this demonstrated to me once when painting the house. I had selected a pale yellow that looked fine in the store but once I started on the house was of a more greenish yellow than I wanted. Turned out it was the light bouncing off all the lawn and shrubbery on a bright sunny day that gave it the greenish cast. I had to go back and select a more orangey yellow than I would have thought would look right.

  15. Fascinating how much effort was devoted to color selection. In ’52, the color choices were rather conservative for the consumer. The brighter hues and tri-colors came into fashion about ’54 & ’55. Even then, they were controversial. Younger folks were attracted to brighter colors, while the older folk stayed with the pastel shades and solid colors. The gaudiest was the tri-color Buicks in cream-yellow, bright red and black, Pink was introduced and was occasionally seen. Bright yellow became popular and greens of every shade proliferated. Today, colorful cars are the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps that expresses the current mood of most.

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