June 2019 - An Interview with Mason and Connie Compton
-Can you tell me your background and how you got into classic cars? Where do you live in the county?
My husband, Mason, is a car enthusiast. He always worked on vehicles and loved detailing vehicles as well. Mason is from a large West Virginia family. His brothers and friends enjoyed NASCAR and classic cars. From this, you got to join them so I have learned to love it too.
We bought our first classic vehicle which was a 1993 Ford Lightning about year 1999 and we had this truck about 10 years. It was the first Lightning that Ford made and they only made a limited amount of these vehicles. We started attending the Cruise In at the Miami Township Kroger’s across from Meijer’s. We were approached by Doug Wimberly of the F100 Ford Club to use our truck for driver’s introductions at the first NASCAR Truck Race at Kentucky Motor Speedway in year 2000. Doug lined us up by year of vehicle. We had the pleasure of driver, Mike Skinner in our truck. It was a lot of fun and we got to meet the Ford drivers (Joey Logano, Rick Crawford, Jon Wood, Dorsey Schrader, and Jeremy Mayfield). We were hooked.
We sold our truck in 2006 and purchased a 1979 Cobra 351 Mustang. We updated about everything on this vehicle and painted it twice over an 11-year period. It was a hot rod for sure. Mason entered this car in many car shows and won numerous trophies. Jack Roush loved this car and signed it for us.
We enjoy attending Cruise Ins versus Car Shows. Main reason you meet so many wonderful people all over the country and build a great network of people to find parts for your vehicles.
We live in Amelia, Ohio.
-Can you give me background on the car and how you came to own it and become such enthusiasts?
My husband was always interested in older Ford classic vehicles. In 2015 we went to the Appalachian Festival at Coney Island and I met a vendor (Bonnie Stutzman) and purchased an item from her. Mason talked to Bonnie’s husband (John Stutzman) who worked for Ford Motor Company out of Louisville, KY and of course, the conversation began about Ford cars. John showed photos of his 1955 Ford Fairlane Victoria that he purchased 11 years ago in Calhoun, Georgia. His wife, Bonnie, would not ride in it because it did not have air conditioning. John informed Mason that it was for sale and the price was amazingly affordable. John wanted to buy a car that his wife would enjoy. So we went to their home (in April 2015) in Leavenworth, IN and bought it. John indicated to us that this car was manufactured in Louisville and that the Louisville plant (plant opened February 1955) only made these cars four months and then they started manufacturing the 1956 models. We were ecstatic that we had this opportunity to buy it.
We understand from John Stutzman that we are the 4th owner of the car. The original owner was in Georgia and blew the engine in the car. The car sat in a basement for over 20 years before it was sold to another person who changed the engine. He put a Ford 302 V8 engine in it from a 1969-70 Ford F150 and a C4 Transmission. John did not make any changes to the car for the eleven years he owned it except updated the radio to include FM.
This car had the original paint and upholstery in the car and did not come perfect in our eyes so we decided to update it a little. Moore’s Auto Body (Robert Moore) in Amelia, Ohio helped with renewing the body of the car and painting it. When tearing down the car we had to deal with cleaning out wasps nests. Our car is painted the original color of Torch Red and Snowshoe White. All the Stainless Steel trim was polished (rare to find replacement trim) by Metal Bright in Dayton, Ohio. The Upholstery was updated by Rob Nicely who runs Allstate Insurance in Amelia, OH.
Many missing parts were purchased from F R Parts Store in Bryan, OH, Tee-Bird in West Chester, PA, Bob’s 1955-56 FORDS (Bob Burgess) in Bellbrook, Ohio and Don Stickler in Concord, North Carolina. We even bought parts in Elizabethtown, TN and in Wisconsin.
Joining the Crown Victoria Association (CVA) was one important step we took. This organization provided us with Technical Advisors across the country and vendors to help obtain parts.
It has taken all of two years to renovate the exterior and interior. We have continued working on our 55 car. After we restored the interior and exterior we have updated various parts to the car which are: Starter, Battery, Water pump, fuel pump, restored the rear end, distributor updated to an electronic distributor, disc brakes, replaced automated window electronic switches, new tires and wheels, and seat belts.
-How's the classic car scene in OH?
Pretty Cool! Coney Island has two major car shows every year. Mason attends a car show in Manchester, OH and is usually called “Jack Roush Day.” Jack Roush NASCAR (Roush-Fenway Racing) owner of the 6 and 17 cars was raised in Manchester. This is a huge event that draws classic car owners all over the Tri-State area. The Miami Township Friday evening Cruise In is very popular drawing hundreds of classic cars. American Legion in Amelia and Bethel always have nice car shows and every Saturday evening there is a Cruise In at the Frisch’s in Bethel. Many churches also conduct Cruise In’s and car shows. The upcoming Pumpkin Run in Owensville, OH (first weekend of October) also draws vendors, parts, and classic vehicles from all over the country. When attending these shows or cruises, upcoming information is placed in your car to inform you about upcoming events.
-What makes a classic car a "classic car"?
A classic car must be unique such as the 1993 Ford Lightning or a car that is 20 plus years old and is hard to fine or rare. Our 1955 Ford Fairlane Victoria is very rare mostly because this car was raced in NASCAR and of course NASCAR had crashes. There are not many of these cars like our car around. The sedan model is more common. There were 113,372 of these cars produced and the average cost was $2,377.00.
-What is it about classic cars that gets you so passionate and revved up, as it were?
It’s the people. When they take the time to stop and look at your car. They want to know how you got it and the history of the car. People like to talk about their experiences with a specific car. Lastly, the bragging rights when you win that trophy.
-What's something unique about your classic car enthusiasm compared to others you know?
We enjoy the people looking at our car and asking questions too. It’s a head turner for sure.
What's unique about your particular car?
The research (history of the car) is fun. We love the lines of the 1955 Ford Fairlane Victoria. Today cars do not have trim, but this car is loaded with stainless trim which is rare to fine and decorative ornaments (such as the hood ornament) on the car. Another unique feature is the glass. The glass is much thicker (with bubbles) and rounded in various areas of the car. Steering wheels are large and these cars rarely came with power steering. Our vehicle has power windows which was an option for this model of car.
-What's something people would be surprised to know about classic cars or the classic car community that others might not know about?
It takes time, money and patience to renovate these vehicles. Searching for replacement parts for these vehicles is not an easy task.
You must know the classic car community to gain a network of providers. We quickly gained experts and want to thank John Stutzman, Robert Moore, Mike Beckwith, Gary Zuck, Norbert Doll, Toby Gorny, Don Strickler, Larry Pitzer and Dave Underwood. Vendor’s to thank are Moore’s Auto Body, Tee-Bird Products, Inc., Bob’s 55-56 Fords, FR Parts Store, Green Sales (Cincinnati, OH), O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, and Tune & Shine (Amelia, OH).
Annually, there is a Ford Swap Meet at the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus, Ohio where car enthusiast bring their parts to sell. Also you need to know vendors that fabricate replacements parts.