Toby Gorny (a tribute): 50 Years of Membership, Service, and Enjoying Conventions
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was published in the July 2021 issue of the Skyliner, which is the official newsletter of the International Retractable Club and pays a tribute to Crown Victoria Association Co-Founder Toby Gorny.
Toby Gorny from Bryan, Ohio, gives us something to strive for that we will never be able to accomplish in the same way.
The IFRC is celebrating its Fiftieth Anniversary, and Toby has been a member since the Club's inception. You and I can continue to be members or even long-term members, but we cannot go back in time. We may even celebrate fifty years as a Club member, but it will not be on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Club. Toby is the only one who attends each annual convention since 1971.
John Bobo is credited with starting the IFRC, but Toby has been involved every step of the way. Therefore, this issue of the Skyliner highlights Toby. Kind words from friends, short notes from customers both new and old, and thoughts of fellow members expressing the impact Toby has had on them.
I hope that for the IFRC Seventy-Fifth Anniversary that 1he Skyliner is dedicated to Toby Gorny. I hope that recognition is because he continues to attend each IFRC Annual Convention for the next twenty-five years!
As one of the founding members of the IFRC, Toby needs to be commended for his faithfulness over the last fifty years. How many of you have been involved with something for that amount of time? The vast majority of us have had conversations with Toby and purchased a few parts from him over the years. Some IFRC members have purchased a lot more parts than others.
It has always been a joy to see him at the conventions and to witness his continued involvement. Because I don't have a showcase retractable, my purchasing of parts has been limited, but Toby has always been there to assist me. So. In closing, I would like to say "Toby, hang around for many more years because the IFRC needs you!"
When I was done finding every car I could, I showed my list to Ron and asked him for help. He looked over the list and saw Toby Gorny's name listed as Showcase car number 15. He said he would ask him. He looked up his phone number in the IFRC roster and gave him a call.
He explained to Toby what I was trying to do and asked if he happened to have a photo of his Skyliner that received the Showcase award in 1979 from the convention that was in St. Louis, Missouri. Toby said he did, but he was not sure where it was. Ron asked that if he came across it would he please mail, email, or text us a copy so that we could put it in the Showcase book?
Toby said, "Sure, I can do that, but it might be easier if l just backed the car out of the garage and take a picture of it.” What, that was a shock, after all this time, he still had the Skyliner? Toby said yes, he still has it, and it brings back a lot of great memories for him.
After some research, we discovered that not only is Toby Gorny the oldest IFRC member who still comes to conventions, but he holds another IFRC record that people don't realize. His Skyliner is the oldest Showcase award winner that is still owned by the person who originally won the award.
To be fair, there are five other Skyliners that became Showcase before Toby's, which I cannot find. They could possibly beat or tie his record. But as of right now, way to go Toby, forty-two years and counting.
Toby (actually David, though most who know him, don't know that) has always been a selfless individual. Linda and I spent a moment yesterday trying to remember exactly how the relationship began and decided it was probably around the Charlotte show in 1992 when we first attended as car owners and as customers of the Ford Reproduction Parts Store. But it grew somehow, and we would always look him up when we were at one of the Carlisle shows, at Hershey, and of course, at the IFRC conventions. Often Toby would hand me his cell phone and tell me to say hello, and it would be Sandy, and we could catch up for a moment.
Over the years, I witnessed the selflessness he lived by. One year Ron Brenton had an old original IFRC medallion that he was looking to sell. Toby suggests to Ron, "I think Linda Huggins would love having that. She seems to love that older memorabilia.” It currently resides on our 58s grill. Another year someone dropped off an Upholstery manual and a 1958 showroom book, "The Ford Story” describing the Showroom differences from the Ford vs Chevy battle. "Jerry, take a look at these; I saved them for you as I know you enjoy collecting this stuff.” They were priced about 25% off the eBay asking price. The two books still live here. Another eBay purchase of mine ended up with me having about 10 NOS '58 hood scoop gaskets. I took them to Toby to have them authenticated, and as I purchased them for almost nothing, asked if he wanted to have them to sell. "No, you hold onto them. I can't get them anymore, and if anyone should inquire about them, I will direct them to you.” In all of these situations, I am sure he could have made some additional money, but that just was not his style.
Toby in a tug-of-war with Bill Abates over a hubcap!
However, my favorite memory of Toby is regarding the acquisition of a 1968 Mustang that had been modified by Carroll Shelby, a GT500. In 1968 when I was only twenty, my 1963 Ford XL had (back then) an unthinkable 100,000 miles on it. I was working away from home at the time, and Genest Ford in Manchester, New Hampshire, had a Candy Apple Red GT500 on their showroom floor. Test drives to 20-yearolds were not permitted at the time, but I just knew this car was made for me. So, I got a price for the deal but ran into a roadblock with the Telephone Credit Union. Back then, prior to your twenty-first birthday, you needed a parental signature to obtain financing. My well-meaning father decided at my age I didn't require a sports car, so the deal could not be completed. So, I ended up with an XL, same color, and a fine car but not the Shelby. Fast forward to 30 or so years, and I was visiting Toby at the FRPS trailer in Carlisle. Posted near the service window was a picture of a 1968 Shelby with the infamous phrase: "For Sale.” I didn't know about Shelby numbers at the time, so I don't know if it was the same car, but if it wasn't, it was an exact copy. Color, stripes, wheels, etc.
We chatted about the car for about a moment.... he actually gave me his floor price, and away I went. I laid awake most of the night thinking about it. In the morning, I began to piece together the financing in my mind. Maybe if I reduced Linda's weekly allowance for a few weeks, moved a few dollars out of this account and over there ... and the car guys out there all know what I mean. At the breakfast buffet, I explained my plan to Linda, who surprisingly just shrugged her shoulders gently and with a "if that's what you want" approved the deal. It was also the end of the Carlisle show, and when we arrived, Toby was hooked up and leaving. I stopped him, and in thirty seconds, we had made a deal, including the financing.
A couple of weeks later, we were in Bryan, Ohio, at the Ford Parts Store. We were guests of the Gorny's for the night. We went out to eat in their 56 Parklane wagon and visited the print shop where we were gifted with a typeset box. It hangs on our dining room wall at this moment mostly full of little trinkets from our travels. But now for the best part of this story: When the car was loaded, I received a Bill of Sale and the title for the Shelby. But there was nowhere in writing that the sale had a balance due. "Toby, if Linda and I don't make it back to Massachusetts for some reason, when you visit our children to get the balance, they will have no idea who you are or why you expect thousands from our estate.” Yes, he trusted me to that level. After we discussed my apprehensions, we took a yellow legal pad and scribbled a few sentences regarding the agreement.
I have owned 34 Fords over the years, along with some GM's, Chryslers, and a couple of foreign cars; but I have never felt so trusted and just plain good about a car deal. And there will never be a day anyone will be safe from disputing that Toby was one of the good guys in the hobby, in life, and as a family man. I am thrilled to have these memories of Toby. There should be a little more Toby in all of us.
Linda and I look forward to seeing you all, including Toby (and hopefully Sandy), in Strongsville this July.
I met Toby Gorny at the Rod and Custom Show in December 1973 at the Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne where he was showing his 1959. I had just purchased my first Retractable (a very rusty 1959) in June 1973 in Maumee, Ohio. I asked him if there was a club for these cars, and he gave me the contact information for John Bobo. I joined the club in early 1974. I still have John's handwritten letter on the goldenrod tablet giving me the details on how to join the club. Unfortunately, I put it where I wouldn't lose it and have been looking for it for quite a while.
Like most of you, I met Toby at his Ford Parts Store trailer. I was restoring a Skyliner at that time and was a new member of the IFRC. Our first meeting was at All Ford of Carlisle, or as Dave Dudt refers to it, "The High Holy Days!" It was very easy to become friends with Toby. Thousands of people purchased Ford parts from him, but he would still be able to call you by name. That ability is certainly a gift. He was normally able to recall what you were working on. I often wondered if he was going to know what parts I needed.
As our friendship continued to flourish, he understood I like the memorabilia that went with a Skyliner as well; particularly the things given out by Ford, awards the Ford Company gave to its dealers, and of course, NOS parts. It appeared any time I met up with Toby somewhere in the conversation, a sentence would start with “Jim, I am getting rid of, Jim I have for sale" or "Jim I know a guy that has for sale a ....”
Over the years, I took him up on several of his offers. This tribute to Toby's fifty-year membership in the IFRC caused me to look around at some of the things I have purchased from him. NOS parts, clocks, banners, and Ford factory giveaways. One of the things that Toby had at his Ford Parts Store trailer was a mirror merchandising rack from a Ford Dealership in the late 50s. I always coveted it and said, "if you ever get ready to sell it, let me know!" It is an item I am happy to display in my office.
Fifty years? I only regret I did not meet Toby earlier and hope our friendship can continue for many more years!
Toby and Sandy at work getting Ford parts ready to ship,
It's an honor to have known Toby these past thirty-five years. He's the kind of a guy who, once you've met him, it’s like you have known him forever. Whenever I need a retractable part, I usually call him first, and sometimes it's just to rattle his cage. He almost always comes through for me, and if he doesn't have what I need, he usually knows who does, or else lets me down gently. I often refer other members to F. R. Parts in Bryan, Ohio first. In return, every now and then, my phone rings, and it will be somebody from another Ford Club that he has referred me to with a question about a Ford that has its owner stumped. Usually, we get it figured out.
Congratulations, Toby, it's an honor to call you, my friend.
Unfortunately, two weeks after getting our '58 newly painted stripped-down car back, my husband passed from cancer. Leaving me with such a wonderful unfinished gift I made it my mission to get it back together. During the next few years, I had many calls and questions for Toby and Sandy helping me to purchase my parts. They were always so kind, which I am grateful. Can't wait to meet them in person!!
Wayne and Gail Chase
In 1984 we loaded our two young sons in our 1958 Retractable Hardtop and headed to our first IFRC National Convention in Dearborn, Michigan. We had recently joined the IFRC and did not know anyone in the club but decided to attend the convention because I needed to learn more about the car and how to maintain it. That week, Gail and the boys spent most of their time at the mall or at the hotel pool. I wandered the parking lot all day, and that's where I met the friendly Toby Gorny. He was very helpful and told me a little about the club and the cars. I was having trouble with the car running rough. I thought it was the coil, and Toby put me in touch with a guy that knew about the cars, and he explained to me that it sure acted like a coil problem. The young man was a local, and he went home and brought back another coil for me to try. I appreciated the help I got from Toby. He made a great impression on me, and we look forward to seeing Toby's friendly face at every convention. We have even been fortunate enough to see him at the All-Ford Show in Carlisle, PA a few times. Over the years, I have ordered parts from Toby, and he always ships them right away or brings them to the next show. He is an honest and trustworthy businessman, but more importantly, he is a friend who enjoys the IFRC cars and the people.