Production of new cars had been interrupted by World War Two in 1942. With the war’s end, the Big Three and other independent auto manufacturers were ready to gear up for civilian production again, although actual models were delayed by labor unrest and re-tooling. The first postwar cars were basically retreads of the last prewar designs, but by 1947 or so new styles with an eye towards the future were available along with the development of the V-8 engine. Here, then, are a few of the more notable ones.
1947 STUDEBAKER STARLITE COUPE
“First by far with a Postwar Car!” With its unusual wraparound rear windshield, people often joked that they couldn’t tell if the car was coming or going, but it was popular and helped the company, which had been struggling since the Great Depression, to survive into the 1950s.
1948 TUCKER SEDAN
As featured in the 1988 movie “Tucker: A Man and his Dream,” this car was only briefly produced before the company went out of business with only 51 models made. Designed by Preston Tucker, the 48 featured many innovations that were used on later cars.
1949 NASH AIRFLYTE
The Airflyte was the first new car introduced by Nash Motors after the war, and was influenced by Nils Whalberg’s ideas on aerodynamic designs for automobiles.
1949 FORD CUSTOM
The first new design offered by the Big Three after the war, called the “shoebox Ford” for its appearance.
1949 CHEVROLET FLEETLINE
Chevrolet’s own first postwar design, from 1949-1952.
1949 MERCURY EIGHT
Mercury’s own popular postwar model, which enjoyed strong sales due to its “pontoon” design.
1948 HUDSON COMMODORE
With its “step-down” body, the 1948 Hudson offered a safer, better-handling design that was eventually adopted by other manufacturers.