The Cars of 1941

By David Thomas  on January 20, 2011
It’s been 70 years since the Chicago Bears played the Green Bay Packers in a playoff game; they met in 1941, one week after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. With the onset of World War II, all car production in the U.S. was halted in 1942, making the 1941 models the last of their era.
In its way, 1941 was a significant year for cars cruising the streets of Green Bay and Chicago, too.

The ’41 Ford was freshened, getting a push-button start (sound familiar?) that could only be activated after the key unlocked the steering column.
Chevy’s Suburban — yes, the same one — also got a refresh in 1941, and yes, it sat eight occupants, but it was available only with inline-six-cylinder engines. Chevy didn’t start offering V-8s in large numbers until the “small-block” V-8 arrived in 1954. 
The 1941 Buick Century had a 165-horsepower inline-eight-cylinder engine that could hit 95 mph. It was nicknamed “the banker’s hot rod.”
Of course, 1941 is widely remembered by car enthusiasts as the first year of production for the Willys Jeep, a design that has stood the test of time. It’s a design that is still alive and well in today’s Jeep Wrangler.
The 1940s also had a number of automotive nameplates that are no longer with us today, including DeSoto, Plymouth, Mercury, Pontiac, Crosley, Nash, Packard and Studebaker.

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Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David