August 2019 - Gilbertson's Family 1955 Ford Customline
I have been a member of the CVA for many years. However, I haven't written a story for the newsletter in quite some time. I did contribute to the October 1995 issue and in that story told quite a bit about my passion for these cars. Also, in February of 1998 my 1955 Customline was on the cover.
It seems that all of my life I have been crazy about cars. I was born in October of 1950 so at Christmas time in 1954 I had just turned 4 years old. Even at that young age I still have clear memories of our family buying a brand new 1955 Ford Customline 4 door sedan. I remember the salesman coming to our house and taking us for a ride. I remember there being no ash tray in the center of the back of the front seat. The dealer replaced it but it was always gray and never matched the interior of the car which was green. Years later my father told me that he had originally ordered the car in tan (Buckskin Brown) with a white roof. It seems that the dealership which was Bennett Ford in Bayonne, NJ had gotten the identical car in Sea Sprite Green and offered it to us. My folks wanted a two-tone car so they accepted this car on the condition that the roof would be painted dark green (Pinetree Green). Looking back at it I really think that the green looked so much better. It’s interesting since I have noticed that the combination we had was not offered by the factory. The dark green roof only came with Neptune Green. I guess at that time it didn't make much difference as the dealer did whatever it took to make the customer happy. The car was a 6 cylinder with a three-speed stick. It had a radio, heater and a clock that was wound manually. It also had whitewall tires. It came with wheel covers but my folks wanted the standard hubcaps to they got switched out. I remember distinctly that the glove compartment door had a V8 insignia on it. I guess the V8s outnumbered the 6s by so much that it was just a matter of habit. Although they did get the callout on the front fender correct! I remember the next time I saw the car was in my grandmothers’ garage where my father kept his car. I opened the door and instead of the 50 Studebaker there was this brand-new Ford!
We went many places in that car and I became infatuated with Fords. I had the Post Serial F&F mold cars that I still have a collection of along with a number of 1950s Ford Promo Cars. A neighbor of ours worked for Bennett Ford and used to take me to the dealership regularly. I remember the 57s being in the showroom and I also remember him taking me to the dealership on a Sunday morning to see three 58 Fords that were under covers as they were not released yet. That was a real big deal at the time.
I went many places with my father in that car. Dad was an airline pilot and had a good amount of time off and we spent a lot of it together. That car reminds me of him so much and I treasure those memories. I still remember sitting on his lap and steering the car around the loop in the Hudson County Park in Bayonne.
We had that car until February of 1962. It had an oil pump failure and the engine self-destructed. However, by that time it was seven years old and the winters had taken its toll. It was quite rusty, and it was time for a new car. Isn't it funny how today a 7 year old car with 55,000 miles on it has a long way to go. It was traded in for a 1962 Corvair Monza. I was extremely upset to see it go. Since it didn't run anymore the Chevy dealer sent a tow truck to our house to tow it away. I was 11 at the time and was really upset to see it go. I so wished I was older so I could have had it for myself. I guess I never really got over it.
When I was old enough to drive in 1968 my first car was a 1955 Customline. Mine was a two door V8 with Fordomatic. I paid $150 for it at Twin Boro Ford in Roselle Park, NJ. It had a rotted front crossmember that I had totally repaired for $30. I remember the guy at the welding shop telling me it was a common problem and he had fixed dozens of them. The car was one owner and really was in very nice condition. Coincidentally it had originally been Buckskin Brown with a white roof. It had been painted in a 1962 Ford color called Chestnut. I loved that car like everyone loves their first car and have great memories of it. My next one was a black and white 1955 regular Victoria. I bought it from a junkyard for $50 in April of 1971 and restored it. It had a black body and a white roof. When I repainted it I did it with the usual two tone break with a black lower body and white upper. It really looked good. It was in our wedding.
My next 55 was a black Customline 4 door that I bought from the original owner’s nephew in 1996. I kept that for several years and sold it to a member of our club. That car was solid and trouble free. I sold it since I was starting on a 1958 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan.
I will find pictures of these cars and send them in for a future story.
I hope you enjoy the pictures that I am attaching. The black and white pictures are of the car brand new with my family. In one of them if you look through the vent window you will see me.
I'm 68 now and I've had the Sea Sprite Green Customline on my bucket list all my life. I've had several 55s but never one in my favorite color of Sea Sprite Green. At this point I'm thinking what am I waiting for. I would love to find another Sea Sprite Green "color code G" sedan like the old family car. All of my 55s have been V8s so I would really like to have a 6 cylinder for a change. Probably a tough order given how the 8 cylinders outnumbered the 6-cylinder cars by so much. If I find one I will keep it the rest of my life. If anyone knows of any, please let me know.