1940s Cars – The Darkness of WWII, the Auto Industry & Cautious Optimism

The 1940s were an interesting time for the high end car market and for the broader automotive industry in general. The biggest driver of the rapid changes in the industry were the side effects of WWII. Early in the 1940s, carmakers were forced to build tanks and airplanes for the war effort. Early in 1941 it also became clear that production of passenger cars would need to be cut to save materials for defense purposes. As far as cars were concerned, WWII shut down the industry. When cars were produced, shortages in materials like aluminum and zinc meant that materials like cast iron and steel were used instead so cars were heavy and cumbersome.

Cars got bigger and were more luxurious. With Aluminum low in availability, carmakers when back to steel for pistons and other components. The increased weight resulted in heavier crankshafts and connecting ends and that worked its way down the rest of the car.

After the war things picked up for the auto-industry. While many countries were still picking up the pieces and rebuilding, the auto industry made huge strides forward in terms of volume, technology, design and overall innovation. The back half of the 1940s had cars created from odd parts left from the war as well as ground up machines that took advantage of the newfound consumer optimism and were made by re-energized carmakers.

Best 40s Cars

The Classic, Luxury & Sports Cars That Defined the 1940s

Fastest Cars In The World From The 1940s WWII shut down the auto industry so 1940s cars are an interesting bunch. We have gone into a lot of detail about the industry in the 1940s in our Best Looking Cars From The 1940s and Best Sports Cars Of The 1940s posts so we won’t do that …

Allard K1

Our List of the 14 Greatest Sports Cars of the 1940s We mentioned in our best 1940s supercars list that the early 1940s weren’t exactly a time for lots of fun sports cars. Most countries were distracted by WWII and the focus for car companies were using their factories for the war effort. After the …

Norman E Timbs Buick Streamliner

24 of the Best Looking & Most Gorgeous Cars from the 1940s At the top end of the car market, the early 1940’s were still a time for luxurious and large coaches that screamed status. These cars were few and far and only for the rich, with coachbuilders creating one off cars for their well …


Greatest Supercars of the 1940s The 1940s began with the darkness of World War II and ended with an air cautious optimism as people threw off the shackles of conflict and emerged blinking into a new world. This was a time of post-war austerity for many, but it also provided the opportunity for change and …