A bold simplicity marks the 1950 Ford's dashboard
clock, its face smaller than that of the speedometer, yet still perfectly legible. For cars so equipped, the radio is centered in a panel below the clock, its controls within easy reach of the driver or front-seat passenger. Like the speedometer and the clock, the radio dial is delicately rimmed in chrome.
Control knobs are arranged horizontally across the dashboard's lower half. To the left of the steering column are switches for the starter, the headlamps and the windshield wipers; to the right are the ignition lock, choke knob and cigarette lighter. Pulls for the air ducts are located on the bottom of the dashboard, on either side of the steering column. On the right side of the dashboard are a pull-out ashtray and a drop-down door for the glove compartment. Only the heating and ventilation controls look like an afterthought, housed in their own small, lighted panel that hangs beneath the dashboard.
The tendency toward embellishment would eventually undo the design; a decorative, perforated metal panel arrived in 1951, and the auxiliary instruments escaped from the speedometer pod for good in 1954, the same year that warning lights arrived. ®
You have to marvel at the restraint of the stylists. How tempting it must have been to splash the instruments across the dashboard in a showy display, or decorate its surface with imitation wood and chromed gewgaws. Instead, they stayed true to the path of elegance through simplicity, creating a design that perfectly reflected the outward appearance of Ford's first true post-war car.
Seen at its simplest, the dashboard of the 1949-'50 Ford is nothing more than an echo of the car's signature grille: a circle sliced horizontally by a line, like the spinner of a P-51 Mustang flanked by outstretched wings. The dashboard is made of a single piece of pressed steel, wearing nothing more than an honest coat of glossy paint (with the exception
of the Station Wagon, which did use imitation woodgrain). Its main element is a circular speedometer, which is centered in front of the driver and easily visible through the two-spoke steering wheel.
The car boasts no fewer than four auxiliary gauges, but these are modestly gathered around the rim of the speedometer. Behind the round glass face of the gauge is the 0-100 MPH speedometer, marked off in 10-MPH increments with large, easy-to-read, white-on-black numerals. Arrayed around the perimeter are, in clockwise order from the upper left, a fuel gauge, an oil pressure gauge, an ammeter and a temperature gauge. Individual indicators for the optional left and right turn signals rest at the circle's base, with nary a warning lamp to be found.
The width of the pressed-steel dashboard is emphasized by a horizontal blade, resembling the leading edge of an aircraft wing and, on Custom Deluxe cars, carrying a chromed tip at either end—one of the panel's few decorations. In the dead center of the blade is a nacelle for the optional
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