Lead Sled Reborn: Why the Jaguar-Based '01 Ford Forty-Nine Concept Still Holds Up
The late 1990s and early 2000s were an interesting time for Ford. It owned Jaguar, had a close partnership with Mazda, and "world cars" like the first generation Ford Focus were lauded for their sophistication.
But at the same time the company also experimented with both concept and production vehicles that were rooted deeply in the company's American heritage—and one of these was called the Forty-Nine.
A Modern Shoebox
It debuted at the 2001 North American International Auto Show, and as you can see from its name, the concept was heavily inspired by the groundbreaking 1949 Ford.
Often called the "Shoebox" because of its slab-sided design, the '49-'51 Fords helped bring Ford's passenger cars into a new era—and for decades after they've been beloved by hot rodders and customizers, many of whom would chop the top for a sleeker look.
And it's that sleek, chopped-top look that's captured by the 2001 concept car, which was equal parts hot rod and custom throwback and equal parts modern.
Do the DEW
Beneath its lead sled body, sat the DEW platform—jointly developed by Ford and Jaguar and also used on the Lincoln LS sedan. Also carrying over from the LS was a 3.9L, all-aluminum DOHC V8 that came from the Jaguar AJ series of engines.
And for added style, they even added cam covers inspired by the classic flathead V8 engine from the '49 Ford.
The Forty-Nine's interior was equally stylish, with bucket seats all around and a simple, retro vibe that still holds up today, more than 20 years later.
What Could Have Been
Not to be left out is the car's mean looking stance, made possible with a set of massive for the time 20" wheels and tires. After the coupe version, Ford also built a convertible version of the Forty-Nine for the auto show circuit, albeit without running gear.
The Forty-Nine never made it to production, and it's hard to say what would have happened if it did. But in terms of styling it's early 2000s interoperation of the '40s and '50s has held up quite well.
And while this car never evolved beyond the concept stage, another Ford retro concept using the same engine and platform did reach production, in the form of the 2002-2005 Thunderbird.
But that's a story for another day...
More From Driving Line
- Don't think GM wasn't into this 2000s retro concept movement either. FromGeneral Motors came the forgotten retro-modern Bel Air project that never happened.