After the introduction of the Model T in 1908, Ford began its successful journey into the realm of being one of the most recognizable automobile manufacturers of all time. With Henry Ford handing over the reigns to Henry Ford II, the 50's would be lead with high efficiency engineering and an old way of personalized management.
Below the Customline and the Fairlane in Ford's lineup, was the Mainline. This vehicle had a relatively short life span, produced from 1952 to 1956. The mainline was designated as a sedan, even though it was available with two doors. This of course, attracted many of the sport car enthusiasts because of its smooth and modern look and also for it's handling during a daily drive.
The Mainline's engines were a six cylinder producing over 100 horsepower and an eight cylinder producing over 110 horsepower.Once again in 1952 Ford refreshed their car lines, although they remained similar to the all-new 1949 Fords while the model lines were reorganized. Introduced by the Ford Motor Company in the United States, the Mainline was debuted in 1952 until 1956 and introduced as the base trim level of the '52 Ford range below the Customline and Crestline models. The top of the line was the Crestline and included the Sunliner convertible, the Victoria hardtop and the Country Squire station wagon. The interior sported a 'flight-style' control panel and new panels that were suspended from below the dashboard. The grille featured a single center 'bullet' surrounded by a chrome ring along with 'jet intake' corner mares. During 1952 overdrive transmission option was available.
For 1953 Ford added the availability of power-assisted brakes and steering (which had earlier been limited to Lincoln and Mercury lines). The corner markers were plain rectangular lights instead of the circular 'intakes' and the center grill bullet lost its ring and was now bordered by vertical black stripes. To mark Ford's 50th anniversary all 1953 Fords showcased commemorative steering wheels. This was also the final year for real wood trim on the Country Squire wagon. With a dummy Continental tire, William Clay Ford paced the Indianapolis 500 in a Sunliner convertible.
In 1954 the long-standing Flathead V8 engine was replaced this year with an overhead valve Y-block unit, marking the end of an era. This unit produced 130 hp with a 2-barrel carburetor and a thrilling 160 hp with a Holley four-barrel in the official use-only law enforcement model. Also new this was the 'Crestline Skyliner' 2 door hardtop which came with an all new acrylic glass panel over the front half of the roof. An additional option that was quite popular was a snap-in sunshade. The Country Squire wagon (or 'woody') now utilized artificial fiberglass panels, but it still remained the priciest Ford.
In the redesigned 1955 Ford range the Mainline maintained its position, but was dropped for the 1957 model year when the Custom became the all new base model. The Mainline was available in 2 or 4 sedan, 2 door coupe and 2 door station wagon body styles. Dubbed the Mainline Ranch Wagon, the station wagon was marketed as such until the 1955 model year when it lost its Mainline tag when all Ford wagons were moved to their own series. The Mainlines were available with both V8 engine and inline six cylinders. A first time option, Ford offered seat belts in this year, along with Ford's first factory installed air conditioner. Carried into the 1956 model year this 'Select Aire' option featured an integrated heater core and evaporator coil unit within the dash and cold air discharge vents that were located on top of the dash on both sides of the radio speaker. In later vehicles the condenser was mounted in front of the radiator. In 1955 the station wagons were offered as a separate series for the first time. The Country Sedan and Country Squire models were 4 door wagons and the Ranch Wagon and customer Ranch Wagon were 2 door wagons.
For 1956 the eggcrate grill was widened into a series of rectangles, but this minor exterior change wasn't much in comparison to Ford's adoption of a 12-volt electrical system across the line. With only 603 units made, the Crown Victoria Skyliner's sales were disastrous and it would be replaced by a convertible the following year. The 'Town Victoria' joined the lineup halfway through the year, a 4-door hardtop meant to compete with the Chevrolet Bel Air along with the new Customline 2-door hardtop. New this year was the Lifeguard safety package, which consisted of seat belts, a breakaway rearview mirror and a padded dashboard. Unfortunately this package was a slow-seller. Air conditioning was also optional, and an expensive one at that, remained a slow-selling option and was revamped this year. The compressor was now housed beneath the hood and the cooling vents were moved to the top of the dashboard.
The Mainline name was used in Australia on a locally developed 2 door coupe utility version of the Ford Customline sedan in 1952 until 1955. The vehicle used an imported Ford V8 convertible chassis with an added cross member for additional load carrying strength. The Australian Mainline was sold alongside the Australian built Customline sedan which were both given yearly updates until production ceased in 1959. Until the introduction of the OHV V8 in the redesigned 1955 series the Mainline Utility was powered by an Australian produced version of the Ford side valve V8 engine. A very limited number of Customline wagons were built. The final series used a grille from the 1955 Canadian Meteor. In 1959 production ended with the introduction of the 1959 US Ford which was locally producing Fairlane 500, Custom 300 and Ranch Wagon models.By Jessica Donaldson