February 2015 - Herring's 1956 Ford Sunliner Convertible
Sold - $45000. That’s the last words I wanted to hear. I got back into my car and headed home - back to Wisconsin - from a long drive to Lancaster Ohio. Okay, here’s the deal. Growing up in Berwick Pennsylvania, I had a car that I had purchased with the help of my uncle, a 1956 Mercury Montclair Convertible. Now you know, being 17 in 1961 with a convertible, you kind of had it made, especially with the chicks. It seemed almost every night there was a dance somewhere that I went to. Well, one night a Friday night, my friend Larry and I were heading to a dance somewhere near Shickshinny, and of course, I was in a hurry to get there. We never made it to the dance. We were traveling on old country roads, a d of course I was showing off as to what the old Merc could do. I hit a bad curve doing nearly 90 and lost control and flipped the car over into a field. God had to be looking down on this idiot and neither my friend nor I was badly hurt. Larry was thrown out of the car as it flipped and I had a death grip on the steering wheel as it went over. Larry was fine but somehow my arm got messed up and swelled up almost as big as my leg. The police showed up. I lied like hell saying I was run off the road by another car. I never got a ticket, but my car was totaled. That’s what showing off and being a smart a__ got me. Now I was paying the bank for something I no longer had. I remember buying that car from a car dealer called Remco Mercury in Berwick for $600.00 Okay, lets fast forward to the $45,000 sold part of the story.
I’m married with a couple of boys growing up and messing around with old cars. We are living in Wisconsin Rapids and previously owned a hobby store. As I said, I had a few old cars, a 57 Chev. , a 58 Impala, a 56 Lincoln, etc, but nothing that I really wanted to keep. If someone would make me an offer, down the road, the car would go. I sold the hobby shop - got a good price for it - and bought a racetrack, the Wisconsin Dells Motor Speedway. I made a real good business out of that and had a lot of fun with it. Well, I was sitting in my office one day looking at some racing book, and I ran across this ad in it that mentioned this auction in Ohio with maybe 15 cars for sale. Then it hit me. One of the pictures of the cars for sale was, yep you guessed it, an exact copy of my old 56 Mercury Montclair Convertible. It had the same colors Turquoise and White with a white Convertible top. Did that ever bring back memories? The sale was the following Friday and Saturday with all cars being sold Saturday. I wanted that car so bad. I talked my wife into making the trip. We left that Friday morning, and drove the approx 500 miles that same day to get there. We stayed in a motel near the auction site for the evening and were at the site early Saturday morning to look the auction cars over. It turned out that it was an older gentleman selling off his collection of cars. Then I saw the car. It was in the middle of all the auction cars, and it was saying to me, “Buy me, and take me home” The car was restored back to almost original, and looked beautiful sitting there with the other vehicles. There were a lot of people there, and a lot were looking at my Mercury. Before we left Wisconsin to go to the auction, I had called the number on the ad since they put in the ad, “any questions call us.” I called and questioned them as to when the cars would be sold and a few other minor things. In our conversation, he told me about some of the cars and what he thought they would bring with what the market was at that time. He got to the Merc, and he told me that this was the creampuff of the auction, and he believed it would bring between $30,000 to 35,000. Well, I was set to go to $40,000 for the car, so I felt pretty good about the situation. There were so many people there I was getting nervous. Maybe they’ll auction the car off last, so a lot of the guys there will spend their money on other cars, so I will have a good shot at my Merc. Well, the auction started, and lo and behold, that damn auctioneer started with, Yep, started with My 56 Merc. “Here is a creampuff,” stated the auctioneer. He then went on and on about the car, new paint, new top, new this new that, and I was just thinking shut up shut up that’s enough, don’t get everybody anxious about this car. So he started off, who’ll give me 50000 for it, etc, etc. He finally got a bid at around $25,000 to start it off. Then it happened - what I didn’t want to happen. Two guys got into a bidding war over the car. Oh no, please no I thought. One said 30,000, the other went 31, back to the first guy at 32, back to the second guy at 33, etc. Inside of approx 2 minutes they were over 40,000 on my car. I believe it ended at $45,000. Sold. I was numb. I couldn’t believe it. My car was gone. I didn’t get it. It went beyond what I had thought it would bring. I didn’t stay for the rest of the auction. I went back to the car, and away we went back to Wisconsin. It was a long and lonely drive back. This of course is not the end of the story, but brings you to what I did get. A few months went by, and I think we were starting to gear up for another racing season when my wife came to me and said, “I was reading a book and saw an ad that you might like”. She showed me the book, and there was a picture of a 1956 Ford Sunliner Convertible. I don’t know, I told her, it’s not my Merc.
Well, a few days later, I called the number that was in the ad, and found out the guy still had the car and that he was in Plattville Wisconsin, which was approx 75 miles or so away. On that coming Sunday, we both took the drive to look at the car. This was a nice drive, as through the countryside in Wisconsin, its beautiful. We got to the address that we were given, and it turned out to be an airport hanger. As we drove in, we spotted the car in the hanger. It was parked under the wing of a big plane that shared the hanger with it. The guy and his wife were very nice, he threw me the keys and said “go ahead, take it for a spin.” I drove it out of the hanger, and as we drove down the road my wife immediately fell in love with the car. “I love it, she said, “don’t you like it?” I did have to admit to her that the car was nice, and I felt kind of happy driving it. The car was nice, handled beautifully, and had some guts. The dual glass packs sounded mean and talked back to you. We drove it back to the hanger and the guy was standing there with his wife. As we got out of the car, the guy said, “You look like you belong in that car - that car is you.” Different sales pitch I thought, but kind of effective. He started out at $40k for the car and about 15 minutes later we did agree on a lower price in the 30s. I found out from his wife that he owned a couple of businesses in the area, and that he was now into buying and flying airplanes. She said that this car was his baby until he got hooked on planes. She also gave me receipts that show he put over 65K in the car. I ended up writing him a personal check, which he accepted and I drove the car home. That was, I believe in 2001 or 2002 and to this day I still have the car. I have grown to love the car. I’m proud to take it out every so often and take it down the road. It gets a lot of looks with the color being Fiesta Red and white with a white top. The Fiesta red does look more like an orange. We have sold the racetrack, sold our home in Wisconsin, and now reside in Florida. My wife misses Wisconsin. The cold gets to me and she won’t admit it but the cold gets to her also. The car now goes down the roads of Florida, and gets a lot of looks. I’m proud of her, but if I should ever see my 56 Mercury…