Ford Vedette is First Produced
The Ford Vedette was a large car manufactured by Ford France SA in their factory in Poissy from 1948 to 1954.
Introduced at the 1948 Mondial de l'Automobile in Paris, it was designed entirely in Detroit (resembling contemporary Mercury models), but featured the Poissy-made 2158 cc Aquillon sidevalve V8 engine of Ford's Flathead engine family, the same as in pre-war Matford cars. On the other hand, the Vedette was the first car to feature the new independent front suspension concept developed by Earle S. MacPherson, known today as MacPherson struts.
Due to the fact that the Poissy factory could not resume complete automobile production immediately after the war, many vital components had still to be made by various subcontractors, which reportedly had an adverse effect on the quality of the car and contributed to its limited popularity. Over the six years in production, the Vedette was available in several body styles, ranging from the original 4-door fastback (with rear "suicide doors") through the later 4-door saloon, a Sunliner 4-door landaulet based on the saloon (with a roll-down roof over the entire cabin), a 2-door Coupé and, based on it, the Cabriolet Décapotable (a 2-door convertible).
Under the direction of the new company president, Mr. François Lehideux, Ford France refreshed the car for 1950, and again in 1952, when the car finally received a one-piece windscreen, new interior and bumpers, better brakes, larger trunk - and a cigarette lighter. The 1952 Mondial de l'Automobile also saw a luxury version of the Vedette, the Ford Vendôme, fitted with the bigger 3923 cc Mistral V8 engine, previously used in Ford France trucks. Also debuting in 1952 was the 5-door, 5-seat Abeille (French for "bee") estate with a two-piece tailgate, advertised as both practical (with a payload of 500 kg) and comfortable.
Facing unsatisfactory sales results, as well as disruptive strikes at the Poissy plant at the turn of the decade, Ford had been trying to dispose of the factory since shortly after the end of the war. An opportunity arose in 1954, when Henri-Theodore Pigozzi, the founder of the increasingly successful French automaker Simca, was looking for a new plant to expand its operations. Ford France was merged into Simca with both the Poissy plant and the rights to all models manufactured there - including a newly-designed new Vedette. The new car had debuted already in France under the name of Simca Vedette, but was sold as the Ford Vedette in some markets (including Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany) at least until 1956.
The Ford Vedette was presented at the Paris Motor Show in October 1948. Compared with the majority of its competitors, the Vedette offered many advantages: a very much appreciated American look, a soft V8 engine that was less noisy than most of the 4 or 6 cylinders of the time, a great comfort for 5 persons. But the 2.2 l V8 engine, so highly praised in the advertisements, was a good old flat head engine equipped with obsolete valves. Its behavior and efficiency could not stand comparison with overhead valves and better designed combustion chambers. The 1932 Ford V8 flat head engine did not allow to envisage noticeable increase in power. Suspension is very rigid and on the 3-speed gear box, the first one is not synchronized. The speed reached by the Vedette is 132 km/h. The car is heavy but faster than the 1951 Renault Frégate. Its road holding is quite correct. The technicians of Poissy, near Paris, succeeded in giving the best out of an old structure. The main drawbacks of the Vedette remained the brakes not adapted to the size of the car and the high fuel consumption, at least 15 l to 18 l for a hundred kilometers. But Renault cared for energy and their Frégate consumed only 10 to 12 l. The price of oil in France already reached records in 1950. Check out: http://athingforcars.com/autos/fascinating-french-classic-cars-renault-fregate-and-domaine/
Trim and comfort however were outstanding, although the model presented rear suicide doors. In 1952, after financial difficulties, it appeared that the fastback line was no longer in the fashion and new European sedans already adopted the Italian style in 1950 and 51. The line with a boot was more harmonious and gave a lighter silhouette. So in 1953 the general line of the Vedette was renewed and underwent aesthetic modifications, especially on the rear. The new Vedette of this year seemed longer, better balanced and lighter. The radiator grille was simplified but this face lift was limited to a minimum. The rear window was enlarged. As for the engine, it was not faster (66 hp), nor more nervous. The brakes however were considerably upgraded. Of course, the 2.2 l flat head V8 engine was no longer adapted to the time even in Dearborn.