vanLeeuwen cover

Having an intense interest in Canadian cars owing to being raised in Buffalo, New York with a Canadian-born mother with family in Toronto, it was no coincidence that I saw many cars offered on both sides of the Canadian-US border as uniquely different from each other. I collected Meteor and Monarch brochures since I was young and never thought I would be owning one of these cars. The evening of February 5, 2006 made me a 1956 Meteor owner when I won the car in an on-line auction. After one calendar month of waiting, the transport rig pulled up in front of my house in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and the beauty was delivered.

I had never owned such a antique car before so was a greenhorn about getting its various issues resolved but while on my cardio walk a by chance meeting in a local park of a fellow Ford fanatic who was a member of a local car club, was almost immediately on the right track. Ted Valis owned 3 Shelby Mustangs and knew his way around such vehicles as well as getting me into the club with all its automotive-pertinent resources. At that point, I knew I was on the right track and a happy ending would materialize.

After connecting with some excellent car guys who knew their respective trades intimately, the car was as finished as I wanted it to be short of Concours restoration which would have short-circuited my wanting to take the car on the road.

In mid-August of this year, while cruising the internet, I received an email from my high school yearbook webmaster who created subsequent yearbooks after each reunion to include classmate updates. He indicated that a man who say my Meteor on the internet and who was certain it was formerly his car, wanted to be placed in contact with me.

This came about as a result of the posting of the yearbook pages on the internet as well as my subsequent interview during the cruise night in a nearby town by a local TV crew likewise being posted. As it developed, David Lane, the second owned of the car and who did the restoration in British Columbia was finally in touch. I had little information about the car prior to his contact and, as they say, provenance is all-important with antique cars. I now know the history of this car from the factory to the present time.

Dave told me that the original owners of the car were a couple who owned the next farm to his family in rural Langley, BC and he was enamored with the car almost at first sight as a youngster. As time went by, the man passed away and his widow, who had christened the car with the name “Madam Butterfly” had the car placed in their barn where it languished for about 10 years. When Dave approached the widow about purchasing the car, she told him he could have it if he resorted the car to something approaching a new one. Dave set to work and over time, did achieve the objective. He had, in the meantime, gotten married and after the car was finished, he and his bride, Amy used the car in their wedding party.

In 1999, he regretfully sold the car to an engineer from Delta, BC who was then transferred to Silicon Valley, California and who took the car with him down the Pacific coast. After only a year, he sold the car to a car-oriented family in nearby Woodland, CA who did some additional work on the car with his sone using the car as his daily driver to college.

The family owned the car until 2005 when they placed it on Ebay and subsequently sold it to a Fanish man living in Reno, Nevada who was in business of exporting muscle cars to Scandinavia who never titled in the car in his name. He received little interest on the car for export and thereupon placed the car on Ebay on January 29, 2006 with subsequent sale to me on February 5.

I joined the Crown Victoria Association shorty after my purchase of the car and found out from their chief judge based in Ontario, that the car had been built on December 22, 1955 in Ford’s Oakville, Ontario plant. The car is the top of the line Rideau series (equal to the Ford Fairlane) but came through without power accessories, but with the 292 c.i. engine linked to a Mercomatic (Fordomatic) transmission.

When David restored the car, it was subjected to a 0.030 overbording and I added a 1957 Ford 312 intake manifold topped with a new Holley 4150 carburetor to prevent fires with the result that the car gets up to 14 miles per gallon and has no starting, idling, or running issues. I also had the front cross member replaced as it was almost completely rusted out as well as new ball joints, motor mounts, suspension bushings, and tie rod ends installed. I later replaced the bias ply tires with radials which meant that I could not only keep the car on pavement but actually between the painted lines on the highway.

When Dave overhauled the engine, it has 82,093 miles on it and as it sits in my garage, shows 32,142 miles which means that the car has traveled only 114,235 miles since new. The best part of owning this car of me is that when I show up at a show, people scrutinize the chrome trim, grilled, and name script with puzzled looks since mos of them have never hear of a Meteor much less having ever seen one. The added value for me is this fact along with the assurance of finding mechanical parts easily and cheaply in most auto parts stores.

Also, the fun for me is to describe the history of Canada’s Ford products and their dealer network which was split as ours was with Ford dealers being separate entities from Lincoln-Mercury dealerships but with the Meteors (essentially Fords) and Monarchs (essentially Mercurys) added to the equation, the dealers were Ford-Monarch, and Mercury-Lincoln-Meteor thereby offering a low and medium priced car in all dealerships only one of which would be found in smaller Canadian towns. All Lincolns were imported from the U.S. while Mercury trucks were badge-engineered Fords found in the M-L-M dealership affording them a full line of vehicles. these Meteors and Monarchs were independent marques and in no way related to Mercury Monarchs (badge-engineered Ford Granadas of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s) or Mercury Meteors which were rebadged intermediate-sized Ford Fairlanes from the early 1960’s.

By Phil van Leeuwen