Vintage vehicles, Automotive history and stories from motoring's past. 

Fords of Canada - an alternate reality

Automakers are all about globalism these days. Ford boasts that its Fiesta is a "world car," that’s built in several countries. Chevrolet’s been slapping their bow tie logo on Korean econo-boxes for years, and, before its untimely death, Saturn was reduced to selling re-branded German Opels. But all this internationalism is actually nothing new. Actually, automakers were globalist before globalism was cool. GM had Vauxhall in England, Opel in Germany, and Holden in Australia. Ford of England had a German cousin named Taunus. Chrysler invested in Simca of France and sold their cars through its U.S. dealerships. Later, the trend accelerated when AMC started selling Renaults, Fordbought Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo, and General Motors purchased Saab.

Ford of Canada was founded in 1904. Though it wasn’t originally a subsidiary of the U.S. company, 51% of its shares were held by FoMoCo’s founders. By the time the 1950s rolled around, the company faced a different environment than its U.S. cousins. In Canada, Ford was priced under mid-priced Mercury, just as in the U.S., but Lincoln-Mercury often found itself the only dealer in many small towns and needed its own low-price car to complete their line up.

And so, the Meteor was born as a low price Lincoln-Mercury competitor for popular mainstays Chevrolet and Plymouth. And a mildly disguised Mercury was renamed the Monarch and introduced to give Ford dealers an upscale car to fill out their offerings. Ford’s Falcon compact was renamed the Frontenac and mildly restyled for the Canadian market.

Charged with differentiating Canada’s Ford products from their stateside cousins, Ford stylists lavished extra chrome trim on maple leaf models in order to differentiate them from the company’s U.S. cars with minimum investment. Meteors also featured their own interiors that were borrowed directly from a variety of parts found in the FoMoCo parts bin.

Produced from 1949-76 with an interruption during 1962-63, the Meteor was a consistent seller, placing fourth in Canada’s sales race behind Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Ford. A changing marketplace eventually brought an end to this unique car that remains a rarity in the U.S. to this day, inspiring many curious glances and questions when one appears at car shows.

By Jim Cherry