New car sales are surging, reaching a pace investors haven't witnessed since before the 2008 crisis. It's no surprise, then, that Ford (NYSE:F) stock has jumped nearly 80% over the past year, and 33% year to date.

The 110-year-old automaker is reaping the benefits of consumers once again entering the new car market after spending several years post-crisis putting off purchases and choosing used cars instead. Of Detroit's Big Three, Ford is the only company to escape the financial meltdown unscathed. Chrysler is now a subsidiary of Fiat, and GM was bailed out by the U.S. government, only returning to public markets in late 2010.

Motley Fool analyst Matt Koppenheffer notes how far Ford has come thanks to aggressive cost-cutting and debt reduction. Ford has fewer workers, fewer production facilities, and fewer costs, so that now the company can be more profitable at lower production levels. Matt pegged Ford as the worst stock for 2009, but he admits he got that outcome wrong.

Erin Kennedy has no position in any stocks mentioned. Matt Koppenheffer has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.