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1938 Najjar

10/25/2019
Tad Burness
Visually examining this design, one would certainly think it was from the early 1950s. The styling is too modern for the 1940s, and utterly unheard of before that! So it's hard to believe that this car was actually designed in the Ford Motor Company styling studio way back in 1938. Yes, I said 1938!
 
The designer was young John Najjar, who'd been offered a job with FoMoCo in 1936, before he was even out of high school. Later that year, he signed on with Ford and stayed with that company for decades.
 
One of his earliest designs (1938) was the illustrated convertible, which he named the "1938 NAJJAR." It was so radically ahead of its time that apparently Ford's executives were afraid to develop it, recalling the cool reception the 1934 Chrysler Airflow received from prospective buyers who feared being seen in a "radically modern" car!
 
 
The 1936 and 1937 Cords also had concealed headlights, it's true, but no other car offered wraparound chrome trim strips; fenders eliminated by "slab sides"; massive futuristic bumpers with protruding, bullet-shaped "Dagmar" guards; a low, broad grille; etc.
 
Though the Najjar convertible existed only on paper, another of Najjar's early ideas saw fruition, and this was his March 1939 design of the Lincoln Continental convertible. The first one was used by Henry Ford's son Edsel, and the 1940 to 1948 Mk. I Lincoln Continentals were popular luxury cars and prized by collectors early on.
 
Najjar had a hand in numerous designs for Ford products. When he first worked for Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford took a kindly interest in him and put him in the styling department after seeing his drawings.

 
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