How Much Do You Know About Ford Cars From the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s?


By: Ian Fortey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Pixabay by zulugin

About This Quiz

Henry Ford started his auto manufacturing company back in 1903 which quickly became, and has remained, one of the biggest companies in the world. And while those early models set the stage for what was to come there's no doubt that the biggest most influential years of auto manufacturing were in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Those were the years when Ford vehicles really grew out of the very basic and utilitarian models and became the iconic, stylish machines people didn't just need to have, but they wanted to have. Cars were no longer wagons with motors, they were performance machines. They were art. Look at those early Mustangs, or the GT40, or the Cobra. Gorgeous vehicles that had incredible performance and to this day are the kinds of things collectors and drivers just can't get enough of.

You can't discuss the history of cars without discussing Ford vehicles. They may have their haters out there but there's no denying what kind of amazing impact they've had and what kind of amazing vehicles were produced in these three decades. Let's shift into drive and take a tour down memory lane to see how much you know about the Fords of the '50s, '60s and '70s!

Do you know which model was released in 1978 as a compact, fuel-efficient car?

The Ford Fairmont was rolled out in 1977 for the 1978 model year as a compact car that could be sold worldwide and would be economical and efficient. It was released alongside a Mercury counterpart called the Zephyr.


Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, only ever owned one car. What was it?

The only car Jim Morrison ever owned was a '67 Ford Shelby GT 500, and he didn't even buy it himself. The president of his record label offered a gift to all the band members— whatever they wanted — and Jim wanted a car.


Do you know which of these came with some optional wood side panels?

By 1950, every car company was pushing the all-steel "modern" station wagons. Ford decided to keep it old school with its Country Squire that still maintained its wood side panels for that rustic country look.


This may have been the first personal luxury car on the market. Do you know what it was?

The Ford Thunderbird hit the market for the 1955 model year and it was not positioned as a sports car initially, but rather as a luxury car. It evolved from a two-seat convertible and eventually grew to a six-seater hardtop coupe.


In car history, this is considered one of the biggest flops of all time. What is it?

Ford was hyping the Edsel and expecting it to be the next big thing only to have it blow up in their faces. The public hated the Edsel and it was considered hideously ugly and overpriced. Word is Ford lost upward of $250 million on it.


After Shelby helped Ford with the Mustang, he moved on to this car. Do you know it?

The Cobra didn't have the long life of the Mustang but nonetheless the 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 was a beast of a vehicle with an incredible 427 cu in 7.0L V8 engine that gave the Cobra an impressive 425 horsepower and a top speed of 164 mph.


Which car was introduced in 1964 specifically to spite Ferrari?

In the early 1960s, Ford and Ferrari were working on a deal together until Ferrari ended it abruptly which, according to legend, enraged Henry Ford II. He went out of his way to design a car that could outrace a Ferrari, and the GT40 was born.


Which of these vehicles did Ford sell under the Mercury name starting in 1967?

The Mercury Cougar was another pony car on the market starting in 1967 through 1973. After that year, it moved on to more of a luxury car. It's the best selling car that was offered under the Mercury name.


The TV show "Starsky and Hutch" made this car extremely popular in the '70s. What is it?

Ford's Gran Torino has had a curiously popular life on the screen. Not only was it the iconic car of TV cops "Starsky and Hutch" but it featured prominently in "The Fast and the Furious" and, of course, in the Clint Eastwood movie "Gran Torino."


What Ford had the first retractable hardtop in the world?

The Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner showed up in 1957. By 1959 they had changed the name to the Ford Galaxie Skyliner, but either way, this was the first vehicle that had a fully automatic retractable hardtop which tucked away with one of the most complex systems ever devised for a car.


Which 1971 Ford model is still considered one of the worst marketing mistakes in automobile history?

Though the Pinto survived for a number of years, the 1971 Pinto has gone down in history as a monstrous mistake. Thanks to issues with the fuel system that led to fires, lawsuits, and terrible PR, the Pinto is now a black eye in the company's history.


Unsold 1969 models of this iconic car were just relabeled as 1970s. What was it?

While the Mustang may be one of Ford's most famous cars if not the most famous, the Shelby Mustang GT500 was a monster that has stood the test of time. Shelby designed them for several years before Ford took over fully in 1969 and then, for 1970, they just resold the 1969 models which was apparently done with the FBI's approval.


In what year did Ford introduce its iconic Mustang?

In 1964 the Ford Mustang wasn't just big, it was pretty much a game-changer in the world of cars and the public loved them. How much did they love them? They sold 93,000 pedal-powered versions for kids for the next Christmas.


Ford made this car to be competitive on the NASCAR circuit. Do you know what it is?

The Torino Talladega was Ford's answer to the Dodge Charger and the Plymouth Superbird. Ford built 736 of the model, as NASCAR required that at least 500 be built for them to qualify for a race. It's referred to as "a gun in NASCAR's knife fight" by some racing pundits.


Do you know which model introduced a new coil suspension in 1965?

Ever the innovators, Ford redesigned the 1965 Galaxie to do away with the leaf-spring suspension most cars were using and introduce a coil-suspension that drastically improved comfort for riders and also reduced noise.


Ford advertised this car with the Peanuts, who appeared for the first time on TV in its commercials. What was it?

Introduced in 1960, the Ford Falcon was partnered with Snoppy and the Peanuts gang for advertising and, in fact, the Peanuts made their first television appearance ever in a Falcon commercial, discussing just how great the Ford Falcon really was.


In what year did Ford introduce the Customline?

The Ford Customline hit the scene in 1952. Ford had clearly fallen in love with the "line" theme, as the Customline was sold alongside the Crestline and the Mainline. Over 400,000 Customlines were made in that first year.


Ford surprised itself by selling over 17,000 of these cars in 1950. Do you know what it is?

The Crestliner hit the market in 1950 and put Ford back on the map after some serious downturns post-World War II. Starting in 1949, Ford outsold Chevy for the first time since the war and the Crestliner became more popular than even Ford corporate had predicted by 1950.


Which model was completely redesigned in 1961, effectively saving it from financial disaster?

Lincoln is a division of Ford, and the Lincoln Continental hit a brutal bump in the road during the late '50s when the brand suffered $60 million in losses on some terrible design decisions for the 1958-1960 Continentals that no one liked at all. 1961 was a total redesign and an all-around success.


Ford introduced this cross between a pickup truck and a station wagon in 1957. What is it?

Ford's Ranchero was a station wagon with a flatbed in the back. It was actually so popular that Chevrolet knocked it off with its El Camino model in 1959. Ironically, the El Camino is much more well-known today.


Ford made under 5,000 of this model in 1968. Do you recognize it?

The California Special Mustang was just what the name suggests: a special edition meant only for the West Coast market. Interestingly, several hundred were actually rebranded for Colorado and sold as High Country Specials.


People loved the Mustang except for this 1974 version. What was it known as?

In 1974, Ford rolled out the Mustang II which was really a Mustang in name only. The car was based on the Pinto body and even had the same fuel line problems as the Pinto making it both unattractive and inefficient.


Which rare car was only produced in the year 1956?

The Parklane was Ford's high-end, two-door station wagon that clearly was not a popular entry to the marketplace as it was axed after a single year. On the upside, it's currently considered one of the rarest and most desirable vintage Ford models.


Which of these is basically the European Mustang?

The Mustang had been a great seller since it showed up in 1964 and it was popular in the European market as well. The problem was, as an American car, there were a lot of fees and tariffs on the model. The Capri was very much the same car but made in Europe for some added value.


Which car's engine put out a paltry 54 horsepower when it came out?

The 1978 Ford Fiesta wasn't just a small car, it was a very small car. It rolled onto streets with a 100 cu in, 1.6-liter engine. It was essentially a go-kart masquerading as an actual car. Originally the company only wanted to sell it in Europe but, with the fuel crisis, it started being sold in the US as well.


Which of these vehicles came about in 1957 to compete with the Chevrolet Nomad?

Ford had somewhat bummed out on the sport wagon market in 1956 with its poor-selling Parklane model. In 1957 and then in 1958, it rolled out the Del Rio. In '57, sales were good, but by '58 they had plummeted to under 13,000.


When did Ford first offer the Boss 429 Mustang?

The Boss 429 Mustang was offered in 1969 and 1970. These days it's one of the rarest vehicles in the Mustang line and therefore one of the most valuable as well. It helps that only 1,358 of them were ever produced.


The handling of this model suffered because its engine was originally designed for the Falcon. What was it?

The Cortina was not the kind of car that needed a 4.1L V6 engine thanks to its relatively small size and while European models had much more manageable engines, the 4.1L models were known for terrible handling.


The 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt is famous for what kind of engine?

1964 was the only year that the Fairlane Thunderbolt drag racer was available with its incredibly powerful 427 CID 7.0L V8 engine. Only about 100 were ever made, but with that engine, they pulled 657 horsepower.


Do you know where the 1964 Mustang was introduced to the world?

1964 was the first year of the Mustang, and unlike many cars of today which just show up in the world at dealerships, the Mustang was rolled out at the New York World's Fair. It's gone on to become one of the company's greatest contributions to auto history.


The Starliner and the Sunliner were part of the special series of what model?

The Galaxie Special Series included both the Starliner and the Sunliner. The Starliner was a fastback hardtop version and the Sunliner was the convertible version that, of course, let you see the sun.


Which car did Mad Max drive?

The Falcon XB was available for several years in the '70s in Australia. In 1979, Mad Max himself drove a "Pursuit Special" edition of a 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT hardtop which was used again in the 2015 sequel "Fury Road."


Seat belts are important. When did Ford introduce retractable ones?

Ford introduced seat belts as an option back in 1956 but it wasn't until 1972 that they came up with the delightful innovation of retractable seatbelts to make safety somewhat less cumbersome overall. Weirdly enough, it's still not legally required that you wear them in every state.


The Country Sedan was a full-size station wagon. When did Ford stop producing it?

The Ford Country Sedan's lifespan was from 1952 to 1974 and was quite the bus in its day. It was possible to have up to 9 passengers in one of those vehicles, though there was no guarantee everyone had a seatbelt.


Which car was also a character from the sci-fi novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?"

The Ford Prefect was actually a British model that existed from 1938 until 1961. Author Douglas Adams also opted to use it as the name of a character in his novel to represent just how lazy the alien Prefect was when it came to blending in with humanity.


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