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Ford Country Squire LTD

The Ford Country Squire was a full-size station wagon built by the Ford Motor Company from 1951 until 1991, encompassing seven model generations. The Country Squire was based on Ford's full-size car line and was the premium station wagon in Ford's model range. The Country Squire was initially built as a "woodie". After the mid-1950s the rear body was composed of fiberglass covered by a vinyl appliqué printed to simulate wood. Later versions featured an all-steel body and are best remembered for featuring body sides and a tailgate covered by simulated wood trim and panels, however the Country Squire could be purchased without them. Models without simulated wood trim were marketed as the Country Sedan and Ranch Wagon between 1952 and 1974; subsequently, all full-size Ford wagons were sold as Country Squires.

The Country Squire was based on the Custom DeLuxe series in 1951, the Crestline from 1952 to 1954, the Fairlane from 1955 through 1958, Galaxie 1959 through 1966, and the LTD/LTD Crown Victoria from 1967 through 1991. Due to declining sales, Ford elected to exit the full-size station wagon market after 1991.

The Colony Park was the equivalent model sold by Ford's Mercury division.

First generation (1951–1954)

The first generation Country Squire was a "woodie". The frame, fenders and hood were made of steel; the rear of the car's body was made of wood. From the mid 1950s onward, the rear body was composed of fiberglass covered by a plastic appliqué printed to simulate wood.

Second generation (1955–1959)

Third generation (1960–1964)

Prior to 1961, all Ford wagons used a two-piece tailgate assembly that required the operator to lift the rear window up and locking it into place via a mechanical support, and then drop the tail gate down to fully access the rear compartment.

For the 1961 Ford adopted a tailgate assembly that used a self-storing window feature which could either be rolled down into the gate via crank on the outside of the gate, or by an electrical motor actuated by the key or an interior switch. A safety lockout measure required that the rear window had to be fully retracted into the tailgate before the tailgate could be lowered

Fourth generation (1965–1968)

In 1966, all Ford wagons introduced the Magic Door Gate, engineered by Donald N. Frey, which allowed the tailgate to flip down like a traditional tailgate or to open to the side as a swinging door. The Magic Door Gate was made possible through use of a traditional stationary hinge on the right, and combination of hinges along the door's left side which carried the weight of the gate as it swung outward when used as a door.

Fifth generation (1969–1978)

1969-1972

The fifth generation Ford Country Squire (1969–1972) rode on an expanded 121.0 in (3,073 mm) wheelbase as compared to the previous generation and included as standard a 302-cubic-inch V8. In mid 1969, the 302 cubic-inch standard engine was phased out in favor of a new standard engine, the 351 cubic-inch V8. Optional engines included the 390 cubic-inch or the 429 cubic-inch V8. In 1971, Ford offered 400 cubic-inch V8 as an option. Country Squires from 1969 and 1970 used the same body panels and varied in terms of front grille and bumper, interior trim and other minor changes. The later two years of this generation saw an extensive revision of the exterior, having only the roof and tailgate in common with the 1969-1970 models. This generation was the first to use Ford's new "Three-Way Magic Doorgate," which could swing down as a tailgate, swing out as a door with the window down, or swing out as a door with the window up (not possible with 1966-1968 wagons).

1973-1978

For 1973, the platform used by full-size Fords and Mercurys was restyled; the addition of 5-mph bumpers in the front in 1973, and in the rear in 1974, would make these the longest station wagons ever produced by Ford. With the Galaxie soon to be discontinued, the Country Squire was integrated into the LTD lineup. Additionally, a non-woodgrain LTD wagon was also sold; the Custom 500-trim Ranch Wagon was sold only for the fleet market.

Unlike its LTD sedan counterpart, the Country Squire was available exclusively with the 400 and 429 cubic-inch V8s; the 460 replaced the 429 in 1975. As a move to increase fuel economy, a 351 cubic-inch V8 was added into the lineup in 1978. In 1975, Ford added hidden headlamps to the Country Squire (bringing it in line with the Mercury Colony Park and the new Grand Marquis); non-woodgrain wagons still wore exposed headlamps.

Production figures:

  • 1969: 129,235
  • 1970: 108,914
  • 1971: 130,644
  • 1972: 121,419

Approximately 7,850,000 full-size Fords and Mercurys were sold over 1969-78. This makes it the second best selling Ford automobile platform after the Ford Model T.

Sixth generation (1979–1991)

In 1979, Ford became the last American automaker to downsize its full-size car lines; the Panther platform became the basis for all full-size Fords, Mercurys, and Lincolns. Eleven inches shorter and nearly 1000 pounds lighter, the redesigned Country Squire retained the 8-passenger seating capability with only slightly reduced cargo capacity. The big-block 400 and 460 cubic-inch V8s were not included in the redesign, leaving the Country Squire with the 302 and 351 cubic-inch V8s; unlike General Motors station wagons, no six-cylinder or diesel engines were offered.

The 1980s saw relatively few changes to the Country Squire. In 1988, coinciding with the facelift of its LTD Crown Victoria counterpart, the Country Squire received a new front clip. Inside, new front seats with larger head restraints were added. For 1990, the dashboard was updated (for the first time since 1979) with the addition of a driver's side airbag; the outboard rear seats received 3-point seatbelts.

Discontinuation

After the mid-1980s introduction of minivans by Chrysler, Ford, and GM, sales of full-size station wagons began to decline. The primary reasons for the popularity of minivans were their superior cargo capacity and fuel economy despite taking up less garage space; by 1990, Ford's Aerostar had overtaken all competitors in sales with the exception of the Chrysler minivans. Although Ford redesigned the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis in 1992, the station wagon bodystyle was discontinued. In addition, a 1992 full-size Ford wagon would have likely competed against the wagon version of the Ford Taurus, then on its way to becoming the best-selling car in the United States.

Unique options and features

With certain versions of the Country Squire one could install an AM/FM-Cassette stereo with a combined and fully integrated Citizens' Band (CB) two-way radio, and replacement dual-purpose automatic antenna (with only one visible difference that the aerial mast was a larger diameter, and black-band at approximately half-way up). The radio would then have the appearance of an original equipment, factory radio.

Optional were opposing side-facing rear seats, which could be folded down to make a durable cargo surface. Available for use with the side-facing rear seats was a folding table with integrated magnetic checkers board. Magnets under the plastic checkers pieces would keep them from sliding on the board while the vehicle was in motion.

Behind a rear fender well was a hidden, lockable compartment, not visible when the rear seat back was in the upright position.

GM, Chrysler and AMC would adopt a similar configuration by the end of the 1960s. An advanced version of this was the 3-way tailgate which permitted opening the door sideways with the window up.

Gallery

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