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Picturing the Past 28: New '52 Fords

Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009, at 7:28 AM

(Photo)
Potential buyers inspect new 1952 Fords at the old Stewart-Potts Motors. (T-G file photo)
It's early February 1952 and a crowd's gathered in the service department of Stewart-Potts Motors to see the new Fords, which had just released to a waiting public. Fords for '52 were more squared-off as opposed to the 1949-51 models.

Look closely and you'll see the familiar "flathead" air cleaner under the hood of the car in the foreground. Wonder if the two young guys intently studying the engine were discussing its performance? There's also another car and two new Ford trucks in the background.

Looks like a few of the older men are wearing hats. Remember when a hat was part of being "dressed up?" Came in handy for covering balding heads, too.

That service department must have been dark and dingy, though; note the muitiple single light bulbs without any light fixtures.

The old building on North Main Street looks much the same inside today. It's currently empty but with remodeling, or some sort of work, ongoing. You can see inside the garage area from the street.

It was built in 1920, according to the state Real Estate Assessment Data website. This site can be a real resource for finding the age of a building, which is included within more current data. It covers most of Tennessee; the link here is set specifically for Bedford County.


Comments
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Thanks David for yet another great photo. This is one where you can still visualize what life once was by looking at the building that is still standing. Also by looking at some of the old flood photos you can get a good idea of just how high the water got in days before flood control because the building today still sits at the same elevation as in 1952.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 8:05 AM

Never owned a '52 Ford, owned all around it at various times, a '49, '53, '54 and 1957.

Back in the day, automakers seemed to use the same dies for three year periods, such as '49-'51, '52-'54, with just minor changes during those runs. Might not be a bad idea today, certainly should hold down costs of new vehicles.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 8:20 AM

Isn't that the same garage the St. Valentine's Day Massacre occured in? LoL.

-- Posted by Cornelia.Marie on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 9:54 AM

I'm old enough to remember when you could tell the make of a car by a quick glance. That is certainly no longer the case. "Change" is not always a good thing, is it?

-- Posted by reilly on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 9:55 AM

Another GREAT photo! It seems that I remember seeing a photo many years ago of flood waters nearing the top of the old Stewart Potts building. If I remember correctly, the photo depicted two men in some type of boat near the roof area of the building. Maybe I saw this picture in the 1976 bicentennial that was published?

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 11:55 AM

Tattoos & Scars, I'm thinking you're right about that photo. I remember it, or one like it, as well. But I also remember seeing a photo of two men in a boat near the top of a house. Different photos? Or one and the same?

-- Posted by David Melson on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 12:32 PM

My Dad was Service Manager when this photo was taken...I spent many hours in this dingy, smelly building..I remember when the new models would arrive on a carrier, covered in canvas and unloaded late at night...All part of Detroit's ill-fated marketing strategy...

-- Posted by FlaDon on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 2:32 PM

ilikeoldsongs....you mentioned owning a '49 Ford. Wasn't that the first year that Ford made the BIG change from the old rounded back to the new boxy- notch back? The new look was almost as shocking as the new Studebakers. I remember a Stewart-Potts salesman putting a car load of us Junior High kids (including Bobby Newell and myself) into one of the new demos and driving us up and down North Main..and making us promise to be new Ford owners at some future date. We thought it was cool!

-- Posted by steadyeddie on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 3:01 PM

steadyeddie, That sounds like something that Jimmy Bearden would do.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 3:14 PM

Steady Eddie, I remember those test rides in the '49's.....I rode along one day when the Salesman ran off the pavement on Deery St. to show how smooth it rode...

-- Posted by FlaDon on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 3:49 PM

Tatoos & Scars, I found some interesting flood pictures with Stewart-Potts as a focal point in the "Pictorial History of Bedford County" published in 1994 by the T-G. On page 59,63,64, there are pictures, and then on page 65 there is a picture made just about in front of Stewart-Potts looking up toward the square.

David, on page 68 there is a picture of Charlie Chockley on top of his house with water almost up to the ceiling of the ground floor. In the 1969 T-G publication for the Sesquicentennial there is a picture of Charlie's house with men in a boat. I think that picture is about page 230 or 31, or 32, or 33.

By the way, the picture you used in this PTP series was just about at the end of the "flathead" era. The OHV engine came out in 1954 with a whopping 236 cubic inches.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 4:28 PM

ilikeoldsongs....you mentioned owning a '49 Ford. Wasn't that the first year that Ford made the BIG change from the old rounded back to the new boxy- notch back?

Posted by steadyeddie on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 3:01 PM

Yes,'49 was the year that Ford changed from the "turtle" design of the previous three years.

When I was a youngster it was said that F-O-R-D stood for Fix Or Repair Daily, but they seemed to me to be as reliable as any other car, never had any problems with a Ford, myself.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 5:34 PM

In response to leeii:

I would dearly love a copy of the book you mentioned. Do you have an idea as to where I might obtain one?

Thanks.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 11:27 PM

Tatoos & Scars, It was published by the Times-Gazette in 1994. I do not know if they have any copies available or not. The correct title is "A Pictorial History of Bedford County, Shelbyville, Tennessee".

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 6:25 AM

ilikeoldsongs, I have also heard that F-O-R-D stood for First On Race Day. I do not think that is always correct, however, on some days it is.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 6:28 AM

leeiii, have you ever heard Fix Or Repair Daily?

-- Posted by bomelson on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 2:52 PM

Yes, that is one of the first that I heard.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 2:55 PM

I imagine that was started by a competing company.

-- Posted by bomelson on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 3:30 PM

I imagine that was started by a competing company.

-- Posted by bomelson on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 3:31 PM

Bo, I will bet you are right, and I suspect that it was a company that advertises with a bow tie.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 3:33 PM

Bo, while we are talking about the Chevy-Ford thing that reminds me of a true story. When we first moved to Knoxville in the early '80s our son had a '69 Chevy short bed pick-up with a small block Corvette engine in it. The moths had been eating away at it. He replaced the doors, kick panels, and a complete bed with tail gate with all new parts and then had it painted. It was one beautiful truck. In just a few months it was stolen. Then he bought a new Chevy 4-wheel drive pick-up and it was stolen within a week of his purchase. Then he bought a Ford 4-wheel drive pick-up and he never had any more trouble. I guess thieves are particular about what they steal. He still has that truck today.

-- Posted by leeiii on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 4:02 PM

David, In those years the new models usually came out in the Fall and I wonder why this photo is in Feb.??

-- Posted by FlaDon on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 8:57 PM

FlaDon, I also wondered why they were being introduced in February. I checked the Google News Archive and found multiple newspaper stories from that period indicating Feb. 1, 1952 as the day the '52 Fords debuted -- and the day other '52 brands appeared as well.

I also found items about steel shortages and dealers reporting sales shortfalls.

I'd guess it all was connected with the Korean War.

-- Posted by David Melson on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 10:17 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.