For the 1949 Ford model, year, Henry Ford II had a couple of things he needed to do. First, he was still trying to bring order to the chaotic mess he inherited from his grandfather and he wanted to establish himself as being firmly in control of the company. Secondly, the company was hemorhaging money and Ford needed to bring this problem under control.
Design for the 1949 Ford was determined on a competitive basis. Ford sought designs from freelance designers as well as its own design teams. The final design came from a team of freelancers headed by Richard Caleal. Ford executives selected Caleal's design and made only one minor change to his design before going into production: they changed the vertical taillights to horizontal ones.
The 1949 Ford was three inches lower, slightly shorter and lighter than its predecessors. It had a modern ladder-type frame and Ford's first fully independent front suspension. Ford had replaced the torque-tube type drive train with a modeern rear end and parallel longitudinal leaf springs supporting the live axel. Styling featured a heavy chrome molding running across the top of the grille and down to the gravel deflector on each side. A heavy chrome molding curving from the top of the grille down to the gravel deflecter. In the middle, wher the molding made room for the "spinner" on the center grille bar, was the letters F O R D. The "spinner" on the center grille bar featured a "6" or "8" depending on the installed engined. The grille bar extended the full length of the grille opening and ended over the parking lights on each side. The body featured integral front and rear fenders with a chrome strip that ran from the front fender opening to just past the rear wheel opening.
Ford dropped the Sportsman, but offered a two-door structural wood ("woodie") station wagon. Other offerings were the Standard and Custom series with 6 or 8 cylinder engines in two-door (Tudor) and 4-door (Fordor) models.
Despite a 24 day auto worker strike in May of 1948, Henry was able to achieve both his goals. Ford sold Over 1.1 million cars in 1949.