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Cover Stories

Pretty Penny

Submitted by Wayne and Susan Berger, Woodbury, MN

Wayne Berger

My first car was a 1968 Mustang fastback that I bought new the Spring before I graduated from high school. I worked many hours at a gas station and at a Howard Johnsons to buy it.  I have always been interested in old cars having pursued many car magazines during my teen years.  My first old car was a 1947 Dodge 4 door with suicide doors which my college roommate came across when he was looking for a garage to use during the Wisconsin winter. My dad helped me tow it home and I got it running after having been stored for quite a few years. The Dodge was not my dream car so when I found out about a 1929 Model A Tudor, from a machinist at a plastics factory that I was working at during college, I sold the Dodge and purchased the ’29 Ford. The ’29 was a basket case and mostly complete. After finishing college, the Ford was stored until I bought my first house in 1976. The house had a 3-car garage, so it had a dedicated stall. The house was on a large lot, and it needed a lot of improvements, so I never got to work on the Ford much. Then I met Susan shortly afterward and after 4 years of dating we married in 1981.  The Ford came with us during two more house changes.

I got my first taste of a 1956 Ford when I borrowed one from my brother when I was doing a clutch job on my 72 Torino. My ideal car was a 56 Crown, but I never came across one that was complete or that I could afford at the time. Then I saw a 56 Mercury Montclair in Richardson, Wisconsin on my way to our lake home. It was untouched and was originally an Arizona car. The purchase in 1998 came with the old Arizona title.  I drove it a little around my home going for rides with my two boys. We sold the Model A soon thereafter. With the Merc sitting in my extra garage for roughly 12 years we decided to either finish it or sell it. Of course, I did not want to part with it. During a 2010 trip to the Iola Wisconsin car show and swap meet I came across a restoration shop that I was interested in. After a visit to the shop with my wife, the Merc was taken to the shop in 2012 for a body off restoration keeping it original. The decision to change the color to Heath green for the exterior stemmed from the Glamour tan color not being available for the interior upholstery. The Merc was at the restoration shop for about a year before we had to halt any further work because of the cost. The main items left to be completed were wiring, rear side window install, upholstery, and startup.

Knowing Dick Raths from another car club and Tom Ripplinger from the Iola car shows I was introduced to the CVA Club. Dick found out about my car condition from an article in the Iola car magazine that my car was featured in when it was at the restoration shop. Dick came over to my home to check out the Merc and then persuaded Tom to also take a look. They both decided to help me finish the car and Susan greatly encouraged the completion. Many trips were made to my home to finish the remaining tasks and get the engine running. We are very thankful to Dick and Tom for all their help getting our car on the road. The Merc went to the recommended upholstery shop in Feb 2017. The upholstery job came out great using the correct materials from SMS and really inspired me to make the 2017 CVA Convention in Springfield, IL. Surprising to me we took second place and we have been attending the yearly conventions ever since.

Additional items that have been added to the Merc since 2017 are a restored steering wheel, restored hood hinges, better spinner hubcaps, door handle paint guards, tissue dispenser, running (fog) lights, and an updated data plate. In the near future I plan to add rear bumper exhaust extensions.

Susan decided to name the car Pretty Penny. Wherever we take it, people comment how pretty it is. And as you all know old cars require lots of pennies. It may have taken 20 years to complete, but we are loving our 1956 Mercury Montclair.


My 1955 Ford Fairlane is finally complete. We all know what a wonderful feeling that is to restore or modify something that brings you so much joy. But for some of us it is a joint effort. My husband Bob has enjoyed his collection of Fords his entire life. When he was a young boy and not able to drive yet, he was collecting car parts and hiding them in his parents storage shed. All he ever wanted to do was build cars. His first car at the age of 16 was a 1965 mustang. His second was a 1947 Ford F1 pickup which we still have in the family today. But his most loved, is his 1956 Ford Crown Victoria which we consider our “date car”. It is the one car I refuse to drive for that very reason. It still makes me feel like a young girl with my husband taking me out for the day and yes I have to sit in the middle of the bench seat near him. While his hand is on my knee my arm is holding his. He bought the car in his 20s and had it painted, changed the rims and a few other things so it would look like the 56 Crown Victoria in the movie American graffiti. It’s right at the beginning of the movie sitting in front of Mel’s Drive in.

Fast forward through the years of my husband building cars, and only God knows how many there have been. But his latest is my 1955 Ford Fairlane. Bob looked around and found it in Hemmings magazine. After a few phone calls I sent the gentleman a check and we had the car shipped home. The person I purchased the car from had purchased it out of an estate. You could tell the wife had a hard time letting the car go. The black leather seats had a light film of mold, and the car was very dusty inside. You could tell it sat for a very long time. I can understand that because I would be the same way with my husband’s cars. A wonderful memory of the man I love and who loved me as much as his cars.

The 55 had been “nosed and decked” by the original owner with a frame off restoration. It really was a beautiful car with a 351 Cleveland but not exactly what I had wanted. My husband said start looking for your parts if you want to modify the car. He is a firm believer that I should be getting my hands dirty as well as learning everything there is to know about my cars.

After many months I found the motor that I wanted. As a young girl I always hung around with all the gearheads in town and even started a couple of quarter mile races. How I just loved fast cars and always envied the guys that had them. I learned to drive a stick shift when I was 15 so looking for a four-speed big block wasn’t a concern of mine. I found a 1965, 427 cobra with dual quads. My husband had a lot of things to do to make it run perfectly but he is such a master mechanic I’m so proud of him. He never ceases to amaze me with what he can do and how much he knows. He is the go-to guy with all of his friends when they can’t figure things out. It amazes me to see him working on a motor and not even looking at what he’s doing while he’s talking to you. I saw him replacing my driveshaft and I think he looked at it twice.

I found an “old school” dual point distributor that we had rebuilt, along with many other parts. But I was very lucky to find everything I needed including the four-speed transmission. The car was already modified with a floor shift, and I found a nice hurst shifter I wanted to swap that out as well. So many parts but I wanted everything to be like it would’ve been back in the day for street racing.

My car was finished this summer and my husband wanted to leave the hood off, he was so proud of what he built! The dual quad set up is hard to set up properly but my husband did it himself and it runs perfectly. It is cold blooded and runs 1 to 1. It was hard finding the linkage so we had to make it up. I actually braised it myself. It was the first time I ever did even though I have soldered in my life and I have to say I got it on the second try. I finally have my race car that I always dreamed of having thanks to my wonderful husband.

Robert Smith

I bought my 1955 Crown Victoria back in 2007.  I had been specifically looking for the Tropical Rose/Colonial White color scheme and I found this one on the internet in the state of Indiana. It wasn't in perfect shape and it hadn't lived a pampered life. Somewhere along the way, the 272 motor had been replaced with a good used 292. It came with an air cooled Fordomatic transmission and had no power steering or brakes. Someone had the exterior rust fixed, painted it and installed a new interior. Then at some point, it sat unused within an estate for ten years. Someone bought it from the estate and then flipped it to me.

After I trailered it home, it started up right away, but the brake wheel cylinders blew out when I was backing it off the trailer. The long lay-up was the likely culprit so the first thing on the repair list was to fix the brakes. I enjoy mechanical work, so I made sure everything was up to snuff before I took it on the road. 

The first major restoration project I undertook was replacing the inner rocker panels and inner quarter panels.  Whoever did the body and paint hadn't touched those rusty areas. While I was working under the car, I scraped and painted the underside of the car with POR 15. I also replaced all of the fluids, belts, hoses and tires and gave it a complete tune up. The car came with two parts radios, and I was able to cobble the radios into one working unit.

Once I started driving the car, it became apparent to me that power steering could really transform the drivability. I researched Ford manuals for power steering part numbers and then collected the parts via eBay and the FoMoCo Times. Power steering really made driving much easier, especially parking. My wife was now able to park the car. 

Next, I refurbished the whole engine compartment and trunk with a lot of degreasing, some light sanding and new paint. Eventually, I installed a disc brake kit on the front and rebuilt the rear wheel cylinders. The disc brakes really added a lot of stopping power and reassurance. 

As my time with the Crown Victoria moved along, I continually detailed it and updated worn mechanicals with stock parts. The white vinyl sections of the upholstery required continual cleaning as they tended to show every speck of dirt that came their way.

She has never won a "best in class" as her restoration is now over 20 years old. It has won a few "People’s Choice" awards, but the best affirmations are the smiles it always generates.

Its latest accolade was serving as a moving background vehicle in the soon to be released Netflix movie named "Rustin."  The engine temperature hit 220+° during 17 takes of a 30 second scene on a 70° November day in Pittsburgh.  It was selected to be the lead car in another Rustin scene that only took 8 takes.

It still retains its 6-volt electrical system with distributor points and two-barrel carburetor. Even though I maintain it well, I have had to come home on a flatbed twice. I have accepted that this inconvenience is just part of owning a 67-year-old vehicle.

Submitted by

Robert Smith,
Pittsburgh, PA


Dick Ogden

Well to start, I have always favored the ’55-’56 Fords, and currently own a really clean ’56 Ford Fairlane Club Sedan with only 33,000 actual miles that I’ve owned for the last 14 years. However, I have really longed for another Crown Victoria.

My son knew that I was interested in purchasing another Crown Vic and happened across this one from Texas on a local online website. So, we went to take a look at it and found it to be a super straight solid rust free car that still sported it’s Texas inspection sticker. Needless to say, I just couldn’t pass it up. It’s a strong running 292 Y-Block V-8 with 3-deuces and a 3-speed stick, but after driving it we found a very noisy rear end. We installed a 9-inch in it’s place and future plans are to replace the manual transmission with a C-4 Automatic and also add power steering.

The interior of the car was surprisingly clean except for the replacement of the carpet with the correct aqua color.

On the exterior of the car, I have replaced both quarter moldings and added the dummy spotlights.

Submitted by Dick and Jeanne Ogden

Drew Sullivan Cover

For sometime before the actual purchase occurred I was thinking of owning an antique car. Since I am not a spring chicken (or is it a turkey?) I wanted to even the score with something old and a good driver. A show car was not for me nor was anything that fit the "Trailer Queen" category. So, the search was on with help from my antique car owner friends and their friends. Then it happened! Welcome to the world of 1956 Fords!!

I bought the car in December of 2017 from a collector in Rhode Island with 62,401 miles and have done a few things-----new Coker tires, removed-plastic covers on original seats, upgraded ignition system to electronic and installed auxiliary gauges for oil, water temp, and voltage.

The Holly 4-barrel carburetor was replaced with an exact copy of the one on the car. The brakes were renewed, and automatic transmission adjusted and serviced. Also replaced the carpeting with correct color and style to match the original upholstery.

The history of the car is extensive. The car was purchased in May 1956 and driven until the end of 1957. The owner went into the service and was killed overseas. His mother put the car in storage and would not sell it until the middle of 1971.

The car was purchased and driven from 1971 to 1976. Again, the car was put into storage until 1980. The car was purchased again in 1980 and driven until 1985. Purchased on August 18,1985 with 53,100 miles, original motor, paint and interior. The car has been garaged since new. As stated above, the history is about the car and not my wife!

Driving any antique car always brings with it happy experiences and some not so happy. One particularly annoying memory was the wheel cover saga. Seemed like the wheel covers did not want to stay in place. There were numerous times my wheel covers passed me while on the road some ending up conveniently in a roadside ditch. Several unfortunately were run over and flattened into the perfectly round shape of an Aunt Jemima pancake!! Oh, I prayed many times to St. Anthony for help in this matter but remembered that lad only could assist in missing wheel covers! Now What? Seemed like, as they say, no light at the end of the tunnel. Only the light of an oncoming 132 car Memphis grain car train! The can of worms was thrown in for good measure this time (and higher blood pressure) because I was running out of wheel covers. Eventually I got results which solved the problem. The solution was found after some Bay State Antique Club and Crown Victoria Association members put their noggins together and realized some of the members experienced the same problem at one time or another. Just bend the metal tabs on the wheel covers! I Yes, I never leave the house without a pair of pliers.

Another quirk about this grey and white beast is that she "gets the hots" in extreme heat or in slow moving parades when temps are 80* with high humidity. She wants to throw steam and shut down for a break, but not in the best of places. Warm Temp parade days are avoided as a precaution.

My wife really does not want anything to do with my new toy. No air conditioning and a touch of oil from the breather cap and sometimes a whiff of high-test gas when she is accelerating cause of a little additive makes her not that interested in riding shotgun. I think she fears that I will not have enough time for her weekly "Honey Do List". Well, after all, every lady needs attention.

Many thanks and credits go to Fred Orlando, the first mechanic to help me when I purchased my 1956 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan and hadn't a clue. Also, Steve Peluso of Mendon, Ma. Who has extensive knowledge of the 19S0's cars. They both keep my 1956 gal running and looking original.

Submitted by Drew Sullivan, Dedham, MA

majkowski cover

In your previous issue of FoMoCo Times, you asked for people to write in about their love for cars. We are new members and can't wait until the magazine arrives monthly. I would love to see our car on the front cover if possible. My husband would be so thrilled to see our car on the cover. He doesn't know I sent this in. Shhh ! Thanks.

This story is about my husband Roy and I (Mary Ann). We were childhood sweethearts since freshman year, who actually just lived across the train tracks from each other in Chicago Illinois. We both took a liking to the oldies very early in our lives. From the oldie songs to the great cars from way back then.

Until today, in our mid-sixties we just love that era. Actually, we dated 7 years before we married in 1977, and this year we celebrate 45 years.

We have had many antique cars. We started out with a 1966 Rivera, dark gray in color, then to a 1974 Pontiac Fire Bird Bright Red in color, which we purchased brand new. We attended a whole lot of car shows. Then, we purchased a 1957 Chevy 2 door 210 Hardtop. Boy did we have the fun with that car. We were even asked to display our 57 in the opening of the Harrah’s Casino in Joliet Illinois and were asked to drive our good friends’ parents on their 25th anniversary from home to church.

Jim Dillenschneider

The expression “there’s a pair to draw to” is commonly used in the card game of draw poker.  The expression is part metaphor and part poker rules.  In draw poker you are allowed to draw new cards in exchange for old ones in the event the initial cards dealt weren’t to your liking.  The other part, the metaphor, is any pair you would like to emphasize.  That being said, this expression could also apply to two 1955 Fords owned by Jim and Martha Dillenschneider. 

It has been said that life is a game and you have to play with the hand that is dealt you.  And, to some extent, maybe there is some truth in that.  However, if one chooses, we live in a Country that no matter what cards are dealt to us, with some hard work and Heavenly Guidance; we can achieve successes never imagined. 

An initial card dealt to Jim was when his Mother purchased this Victoria brand new in 1955.  He was eight years old when arriving home from grade school, was informed that his Mom was on her way home with a brand new car.  As he waited on the front porch to see the arrival of the new car,  what came into view was  a two tone, white over red, two door Ford Victoria, equipped with white wall tires, V8 engine, dual exhaust, standard shift three speed transmission, and one of the widest smiles peering through the windshield that Jim had ever seen.  Some of the neighbors, noticing the new car, began to gather to ask questions about his Mom’s new Victoria.  Some of the answers to questions were; “if the transmission ever breaks, the standard shift versus an automatic transmission will be less expensive to fix”;  “the red and white paint looks sharper than the other choices”; “the two door looks sportier than the four door”;  and so on.  It was a memorable moment.

As years went by Jim got old enough to obtain his driver’s license and since being the first of his siblings able to drive, the Victoria began to be referred to as “Jim’s car”.   And, he was more than happy to assume the task of providing family transportation in “his car”.  When not chauffeuring family or running errands, many adventurous miles were driven in the Victoria.  A high school summer job that required driving the Victoria to a local hardware store to acquire supplies for the summer job provided a chance meeting of a very nice young girl employed by the store.   She was not only attractive but was very knowledgeable about the store inventory as well.  One or both of these qualities could be considered reasons for an increase in repeated store visits.  You can decide.  Martha was this young girl’s name.  And, if you ever meet her she will enjoy telling you about refusing Jim’s first request for a date at the check- out register, and he forgetting to get his change for the purchase made.  Was this frustrating for Jim?  Upon realizing that he had forgotten his change could he assume she would think that the change was a gratuity for excellent service?  Did he not want to acknowledge he had been shot down?   Again, you can decide.  HOWEVER, the second request for a date was accepted, and the first date Martha and Jim ever had was in the Victoria.  More time passed as education and military commitments were completed by Martha and Jim.  On June 26, 1971 Martha and Jim were married.  As of this writing they have been married 50+ years, raised two sons (Mark and Scott), and enjoy being able to spend time together.  As for the Victoria………read on.

Larry Beadles

Submitted by Larry Beadles, Levelland, Texas

In 1955, my older brother, who had been out of school a few years, owned a 1950 Ford Crestline. I thought it was the ugliest car I had ever seen. It was yellow and black and had a spotlight in the center of the grill. In early 1955 he bought a beautiful 1955 Ford Victoria.  It was a solid color of snowshoe white. It had a 272 engine with a 2-barrel carburetor, standard with overdrive. Of course, there was no air conditioner.  I thought that it was as nice a car as there could be. Soon after he bought the car, he had dual exhausts installed with "Smitty's" Mufflers.  He also had new seat covers installed over the factory upholstery.  At that time, that was a local custom. I never understood that oddball idea. 

Shortly after he had purchased this Victoria, he invited me to take a trip across Texas with him.  We lived in Brownfield, Texas, 30 miles from the New Mexico State line.  We headed 600 miles east to visit our uncles and aunts around Sulphur Springs, Texas. I was around twelve years old and thought his Victoria was the coolest car there was. Then as we went through a small Texas town, there it was in show room of a Ford dealer, A 1955 Ford Crown Victoria, black and white!!! I thought it was the prettiest car that was ever built!  It was as they say in the movies “like when you saw your first Trans Am!” I never forgot that Crown Victoria and pondered on that car for the next 55 years. 

In the Panhandle South Plains of West Texas, it was rare to see a ‘55 Crown Victoria. One might be seen at a car show ever now and then but not often. We never saw any for sale. In 2010, a friend of mine had attended the Pate Swap Meet in Ft Worth and gave me the name and phone number of a fellow selling a 55 Crown Victoria project car. The owner lived in Jacksonville, TX.  

My wife, Barbara, and I took a fishing trip to Lake Fork, in East Texas, approximately 50 miles from Jacksonville, TX. My wife had attended Jacksonville College in the 60’s. (She had been driving a 1950 Renault at 45 – 50 mph when she made the 600-mile trip in 1964.)  So, it was a nice trip for both of us. I visited with the owner and set a date to check out the 1955 Crown Victoria. He had the ‘55 and two ’56 Crown’s that were projects. We made a deal on the ‘55 car.  There I was pulling a boat, trying to figure out how to get the car 600 miles home. It’s a small world. The man that I bought it from was raised about 30 miles from my home and had family there.  He was wanting to visit them and hauled the car for me at a discounted price. It all worked out very well. 

After he delivered the car, my learning experience began. I started a frame off restoration, but I changed direction three times, which added to the cost. My recordkeeping was poor, and I had several duplicate orders. I needed to make a plan and stay with it.  

William Carlson May 2022

It's not Victor, but the same model. Ford Victoria. It all started when I was 17 years old. In my senior year in high school in Napa, California. The high school football player who was my friend came to school one day with a yellow and white Victoria 1956. It was in 1961 when all of this happened. The car was five years old, and his parents gave it to him as a graduation present. It was a HOT summer day, and all the windows were down, and it was in pristine condition. I said to him, what a beautiful car. I did not have a car as my dad would not let me buy one even though I had worked as a kid and had saved $4,000. That was a lot of money back then. I could not buy a car as it was in a savings account and required both signatures to release the money. To say the least I was not happy.

To continue, I said to him “what a pretty two door hardtop” and he reached in and opened the door from the inside rear door and I almost fell over. He had welded off the rear door handles. Back then, as you all know, four door cars were not cool. I have never forgotten that day and I am 79 now.

I have had many cars, at some time I had a 1955 Chevrolet convertible, all stock restored, a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, a 1957 Bel Air, both who had four-speed 350 CC's. Both 1957 Chevrolet's were custom and even an edged two door. I have owned many cars - both drivers and collectors. I never bought my dream car, a 1956 Ford Victoria four door hardtop, as guys do not like four door cars. Well, at 79 years of age and have not had an old car for 12 years now, I present you with my dream car.

I know a lot of you will be disappointed in what I did to a nice 1956 Vicki, but this is my last car. It was really rough when I bought it.

I contracted a body shop in Eureka California. Where I now live and gave them an open ticket to do what I wanted. $6,200 later, I now have my dream. Tom, at California Body Shop in Eureka, California, did all the work. He cut up a 1954 Chevrolet grill and installed it, a great piece of work and very time consuming, molded rear handles, installed a 1955 Mercury taillight, and installed rear air shocker. Bought American Ford truck wheels, chromed all inside window and door moldings.

I had the car shipped from Connecticut for $2,400. When it arrived in that large truck, I fell in love with it. Overall, I have too much money in it, but it is my “DREAM CAR”, so I am finally happy. My folks had a Ford 1956 four door post. I hated that it had the pillar between the doors. Well, I am not much at writing about anything, but you presently encouraged me to write and send pictures of my car.

I hope all enjoy and for you purist stock fans, I am so very sorry that I did what I did but remember one thing it is my dream car, so be it. Enjoy yours as I am enjoying mine. The transmission and a 292 are stock and in great condition.

The 1956 Ford Victorias are so overloaded as the Chevrolet pulled back them as they do now.

I believe that the Victorias are the best-looking cars of the fifties along with the Tri-Fives but are so overlooked. Thanks for reading. If you would like to contact me with comments - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Submitted by:
William and Gwen Carlson
Eureka, California

Hoppy April 2022 Cover

Is it love or obsession? Whatever, it began 55 years ago when at the age of 15, Hoppy bought his first 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible from his friend Joe Smoot for $100. This was his everyday driver car, which was a Snowshoe White exterior with Mountain Green and White interior. This car was driven for quite a few years until the “kids” messed it up.

If you know anything about Hoppy, back in the day, there was always swapping and trading of vehicles and engines; sometimes on the same day you bought one, and this happened on more than one occasion among friends.

About two to three months after the first 1955 purchase, Hoppy picked up a 1955 Ford Steel Top Crown, again for the bargain price of $100 at a junk yard. Another daily driver car that had exterior colors of Tropical Rose and Snowshoe White. Hoppy drove this one until he finally sold it and bought his favorite car.

Yes, everyone knows, Hoppy’s favorite car ever purchased in 1971 is his 1955 Ford Crown Victoria Glasstop with exterior of Torch Red and Snowshoe White. This purchase was made from a Volkswagen dealership in MD for $295, and became a daily driver for him and Kathy. (We will do another story on this beauty later and the 2 restorations and final full frame- off restoration)

Finally, after several 1955 convertibles in Hoppy’s possession, Hoppy and Bill Lindsey made a trade, and a 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible came to Locust Grove, VA in 1992. More on this in a minute…

Also, in 1992 Hoppy made another purchase, and his Nationally known 1956 Ford Fairlane (aka “Just For Kix” or “Snake Car”) Yellow Pro Street Car was purchased and restoration completed in 1993. (This may also be another story later.)

Meanwhile back to the convertible purchase from Bill. In 1998, a full frame-off restoration began. The car did not go to the body shop until the end of January 1999. Some of the CVA attendees at the June 1999 All Ford Carlisle PA show were looking at some of the photos of the restoration process and inquired if the car would be ready for the 2000 CVA Convention. Hoppy’s response was “No”, “it would be at the 1999 Convention”.

Even with the busy time for Hoppy’s excavating business, it was literally finished with final parts assembled the night before leaving, and washed the morning of leaving and driving to the August 1999 CVA National Convention in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. I believe that is how all restorations, assemblies, and completions must be with these Ford guys!

The pink and black beauty is a 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible with exterior colors of Coral Mist and Raven Black, and interior to match, and is an attraction gatherer especially among the ladies, prom attendees, and car cruise-in attendees. She is pretty underneath with her Coral Mist underbody and black frame. Top up or top down, she has seen heads turn at her beauty. She definitely attracted Hoppy’s 2nd love, Tonda, as a photo of him and Amber, the oldest granddaughter, was the first photo of Hoppy that Tonda ever saw of him. (That is another story you will have to ask about!)

Of course, driving all of the collection of 1955’s, 56, 63, 64, 65, and 66 are fun, but Hoppy’s true love will always be his 1995 Ford’s.

Today, you will find us enjoying life in a Ford somewhere; be on the lookout near you!

Hoppy & Tonda Hopkins

Jay Baptista March 2022 Cover

Submitted by Jay Baptista, Lynn, MA

Frank Sinatra had a hit song “The Second Time Around” that describes my two restorations. The first cost $77,419. The second cost over $20,000. Now the car runs great, after the second time around. BUT - I have $100,000 invested and I thought it would only cost $40,000. Silly me. Now the story.

One of my long-time desires was to possess a 1956 Ford frame-off restoration vehicle. My employer had one and I always thought it was soooooo cool. On Columbus Day weekend, 2006, I purchased a clapped out four-door Victoria hardtop for $4,500. With a highly recommended restorer, a 401K ready to bleed, I was aching to take the plunge.

Before reading any further, have a large Mango Pineapple Vodka over Sprite. If you don’t like vodka, go for a six-pack of beer. Then read about what I got for the first part of a $77,000 frame-off restoration.

The car was “finished” in 4 1/2 years. The pick-up date was June 5, 2011. The key was turned. Nothing! Dead battery! It needed a lightning bolt strength charge to be administrated just to get the starter to groan. Once the car was running, it moved very sluggishly outside of the garage. It was a 200-mile ride home. The transmission was slipping but slowly got into driving mode. Smoke poured out of the breather pipe all the way home, using up 1 1/2 quarts of oil. The first engine, a 312,went 724 miles and then was junk. One week or so later, the radiator burst and was unless. Then leaky wheel cylinders followed. Little did I realize that this was just the beginning of more nightmares to come!

Another four years has been spent replacing old parts not replaced or just trying to get things to work. On this list were items like door locks you could not lock, defective tie rod end, missing number plate bracket bumpers, faulty electronic ignition, large space between quarter panel and trunk, improper line-up of seat upholstery, faulty seat track, rear window which had both worn and bent parts to prevent it from being rolled up properly, radio static clip installed upside down, vent window push locks broken, missing pieces for window washer, tube missing and more.

The initial shake down trip was to the CVA Convention in Huron, Ohio. After passing Springfield, MA, very intense and heavy downpours were encountered. Guess what? No wipers! I could only get 1/2 sweep across the glass at a slow creep. Water poured through the windshield on the passenger side filling my shoes with water and drenching the floor. Due to the deluge, a couple of big rigs ran off the interstate onto their sides. I thought it was going to be the end. Boy, did I pray to St. Anthony (the Patron Saint of lost items). “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, come on down. What is lost, let it be found”. (What was lost was my mind)! Fortunately, he answered my stress calls and got me out with my sanity.

How much did this little prize cost to be completely refurbished? The total for the first round was $77,419.36. Auntie’s inheritance is gone. Well sort of! I just have to look outside in the driveway every day. Then the day becomes bright and happy.

Better days certainly are ahead. Since then, the engine, transmission and radiator have all been replaced along with everything mentioned above. I had the second 312 installed in 2012 and it has gone over 7,000 miles without a hiccup. Yes, we are finally getting everything functioning properly but continue to find new defects now and then. So, the latest one-half restoration including the other aforementioned repairs cost over $20,000. This car has actually had 1 1/2 frame off restorations at this point and “I’m Broke!” However, now she runs so well!!

I have been to eleven National CVA Conventions, and lately have helped there with nighttime parking lot security and daytime parking. have driven this car to Huron and Dayton National CVA Conventions. In 2015, I placed second in the judged class. Of the over 100 cars in Dayton, there was only one other four-door Victoria-so they are rare. I have also won three trophies at local car shows.

In summary, I have learned that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (but sometimes it is the headlight of an oncoming train). I have learned that it is cheaper to buy a completed car than to have one built, especially if you don’t know beans about auto mechanics. I learned to be thankful for real help and expertise, including Paradise Citgo Swampscott, MA; Webb Electric of Danvers, MA; Tee-Bird Products; and many others for their “second time around” help. Like my last name, ”Baptista”, I have been baptized in old oil, shot bearings and loose wires.

Yet I have saved a piece of 1950’s Ford history. For that I have earned a throne in Ford heaven. I just hope old Henry will give me the proper respect. I also ask for a pat on the back from other Ford lovers, and two pats if you have had the same tribulations as I have had.