From the very beginning, Ford has been known as the practical workhorse of the vehicular world. President Gerald R. Ford highlighted this reputation when, in an effort to show off his “man of the people” status, he claimed, “I am a Ford, not a Lincoln.” Still, Ford has made many efforts over the years to battle this perception. This effort eventually led to one of the most noteworthy classic cars in movies: ‘Greased Lightning‘.
As you may recall from the movie Grease, the character Kenickie purchases a beat-up car that he fondly dubs “Greased Lightning.” He strongly believes that with a little elbow grease, this car can become a truly amazing vehicle. Later in the film, the car beats out a 1949 Mercury in one of the silver screen’s most notorious drag races.
The vehicle at the center of all this is actually the 1948 DeLuxe Convertible — the final edition of a version of the Ford developed in 1941. While the details of this car as described in the famous song get murky, the actual vehicle represented Ford’s effort to provide a wider array of options, much like General Motors and Chrysler did at the time. The Deluxe was meant as a middle ground, resting somewhere between Ford’s standard model and the Lincoln in terms of luxury.
While there’s a lot to love about Greased Lightning, the 1948 Ford Deluxe Convertible deserves to be known as more than the car from Grease. Many of this vehicle’s stats and standard features should impress classic car enthusiasts and casual observers alike.
For example, the car was originally powered by a flathead V8 engine, which allowed it to produce 100 horsepower and reach top speeds of around 80 miles per hour. Hot rod enthusiasts continue to rave over the flathead to this day.
Other noteworthy details include a body known as the “lifeguard” because of its safety features, which were, at the time of the car’s release, surprisingly advanced. To make the exterior a bit more exciting, however, Ford added chrome details to the windows.
Inside, the vehicle boasted pleather upholstery, standard armrests, and dual ashtrays. These features were luxurious compared to those found in standard Ford models of the era, although the 11 and 12-leaf spring suspension system was decidedly simple. The car also included Houdaille shock absorbers.
Once Ford ceased production of the Deluxe Convertible, it moved on to a completely new design with its 1949 edition, which gave the car a very different aesthetic. The 1949 Ford Deluxe update may be visually impressive, but the 1948 car from Grease will always hold a place in our hearts. Greased Lightning – “You’re the One that I Want”!