September 2013 - A Story of the Red Bumble Bee
My passion for the ‘55 Ford goes way back. It was about the summer of 1955. We lived on a farm in southwest Minnesota. I was standing in the yard and I looked down the road, I the distance there was a car coming. As it was getting closer and closer, there it was, this beautiful brand new 1955 red convertible, come hell a kiting with stream of dust behind it, (I was about 9 ½ years old). I told myself, “I am going to own a car like that someday.” The guy that owned it drove a gravel truck at a pit near our farm all summer. Well his name was Morice Zimmer (Moose, because of his size). He married a girl from town and I never seen him again.
Fast forward about 1964. I was working construction in Pipestone, Minnesota and when we came in from working one night, and there in a used car lot was this 9 year old used abused ‘55 Ford convertible. One problem, it was black and Yellow, well, I walked over and asked the guy how much? And, want kind of condition is it in? Well, it was $150.00 and it was “as is”. So, I paid the man and drove off happy as a clam, even though it was the wrong color. I drove it, had fun with it, painted it with a $15.00 a gal1on of 1960 Dodge red paint. My Mom, who was a car nut herself, had a red 60 Chevy 2 door hard top. She did the interior with a red vinyl dye and red paint. I found a white top off a‘55 Mercury he had junked out. Boy!! Things were really coming together! No more Black and Yellow any more. By the way!! My first car was a 1954 Mercury 2 door hard top, orange and white,(which I wish I still had)I traded it for a 1963 Impala 2 door hard top, (which I still have) I wanted to keep the Mercury but Dad said he didn’t want all that junk setting around, so, the Ford was my 3rd car.
In the fall of 1965 I enlisted in the Navy for 4 years and I took the Chevy with me and parked the Ford. In the 3rd year in the Navy I met this cute little chic from the state of New York and we fell madly in love. We were married 6 months later in June of 1968. When I got out in October of 1969 I went to electrician school in Minneapolis, Minnesota and there we had our 1st Son. (The Ford was still parked.) In July of 1975 we had our 2nd Son and we also now have our own electrical contracting business (And, the Ford is still parked.) In 1978 we had son number 3. Also about that same time a 1965 Mustang convertible came into our lives and naturally it was also “junk”. In 1985 I changed jobs and started at the Toro Company in Windom, Minnesota and at the same time decided it was time to restore a car and for some reason I decided to was the 1965 Mustang first. (The Ford was still parked in a stall in a garage on my Dad’s farm.) In 1995 the mustang was done and “Man What a Beauty.” In 1996 “guess what?” It was time for the Ford. I had a 5 year plan. HA! HA! I hauled the Ford to Windom, Minnesota where we now live. Needless to say my Dad had been trying to get me to get rid of that hunk of junk car out of his garage for the past 30 years. So I started dismantling the car refurbish the frame, rebuilding the motor and transmission. Put on new brakes, then, it came to the body. I collected all the good sheet metal that I could find after market is non-existent. Well, guess what? The 5 year plan was already at 10 years with parts scattered all over my 6 car garage, plus, I have a couple of rental houses and their garages had parts in them also.
One day my youngest son, Scott, brought this young lady home for us to meet, which was about the summer of 2006. While we were in the middle of a having a conversation she happen to mention that her step Dad’s name was Moose. I said, “I only know one guy by the name of Moose and he was from Redwood Falls, Minnesota” and we both said at the same time Maurice Zimmer. (The guys with the red 1955 Ford convertible) Boy! Did I want to talk to him, His stepdaughter became my daughter-in-law. I don’t know if the car had anything to do with them getting married or not. Moose told me later that he never did get a picture of the little red Ford, I was so disappointed.
Well, back to the car. My garage was full, no room for my wife’s van. So, in April of 2010, I loaded the frame and sheet metal on my trailer and headed east on the highway. Left was the Junk Yard, right was the Body Shop. I elected right to Expert Auto Body Shop in Adrian, Minnesota. I was actually a little ashamed of what I had brought him, but, Tom, the owner, had looked it before. When I arrived to the Body Shop Tom said “This will be a challenge but I think I can do this.” So, I dropped off the trailer full of junk and Tom went to work on the “Little Red Ford” and I was shocked at what Tom and his people were doing with all that sheet metal. It was actually looking like a ‘55 Ford again. All of a sudden one day he called up and asked me what color I wanted it. By this time I had been in CVA for about 15 years and had seen a lot of ‘55 Ford colors and a lot of them were red, blue, green, etc. So I gave it some thought and Black and yellow really didn’t look so bad. Actually, it looked very GOOD and the data plate says it should be Black and Yellow so, Black and yellow is what it is. I think it is a Beautiful, thanks to Tom at Expert Auto Body. LeBaron Bonney made the interior and Sioux Fall Auto Trim put in the Upholstery.
I am finishing some under the dash and under the hood issues and patently waiting for the warm weather to take her on our first Maiden Voyage.
I would like to thank Toby, The Ford Parts Store, Tee Bird Products Inc., Concours Parts and Auto City Classic. I would also like to thank the little Chic from New York for putting up with me for the past 45 years.
The Back Ground of the 1955 Bumble Bee is The Iowa Rock & Roll Music Association in Arnold Park Iowa. Many thanks to Connie Mueller for letting us take the picture.
P.S. Moose had a heart attack in May of 2010 and passed away. He never got to see the Red Bumble Bee get painted. But, he and I did get to drive away I our children’s wedding caravan in the Red and White ’56 Crown Victoria with a glass top and he had a big grin on his face.
Submitted by Bill Voss