February 2022 - Victor is Back
Submitted by: Al Rahn, Rocky Ford, Georgia
Victor came off the Louisville, Ky. assembly line on July 30, 1956. He was a proud platinum gray and colonial white on the exterior. His interior was Ford’s attempt in the summer of 1956 to attract younger buyers. It had a BX interior that was introduced in May. It had pink, black, and white door panels, with a coral mosaic cloth and vinyl seat cover. The four-door hardtop was considered a sport family vehicle by many at that time and was Ford’s first year with that model. They made 32,111 of them, but very few with the color combination that Victor had. He thought he was special.
Victor was ordered with the 312 cu. In. engine and Fordomatic. The only power option he had was power steering. Victor had no radio and no back up lights but did have the “Magic Aire” heater. He did not even have fender skirts; they were for girls.
How long Victor roamed the highways I do not know. But, at some point in time, he was bought by a lady who really loved PINK. (Maybe she worked for Mary K). Anyway, she painted the Victoria a sunset coral and colonial white. She also re-covered the seats with a pink brocade upholstery fabric. She was pretty and was now Miss Vicky.
Fast forward a lot of years to May 2016, when I saw her picture for sale on E-Bay. I downloaded all her pictures, including the data plate. When I saw that the original color was gray and white, I knew there was potential for a new life. Could that car be restored to its former glory? I wanted to know.
After coming to an agreement on price with the man who was selling the car for Pink Lady, my wife, Jane. and I loaded up the 2002 Ford F-150 and set out. We left Southeast Georgia and headed to Atchison, Kansas. Although the car was not running, I saw the potential and closed the deal. We rented a tow dolly and headed back to Georgia.
I spent a lot of time and effort cleaning her up before I took her to a mechanic friend, Ray Lariscy, who brought her back to life. I had back up lights installed at this time. Although she was running and pretty in pink, I still wanted to restore the car back to original with a few more improvements and upgrades.
At this point I totally stripped her down on the inside and took her to another friend to do the paint and body work. He said he could do it in his spare time at his paint/body shop. I ordered all the panels and parts he said it would need. Unfortunately, he never had any spare time.
Two years later he still had not gotten around to it and said it wouldn’t hurt his feelings for me to find someone else to fix it. I began looking and found a man only 8 miles from my house who said he would take it. Miss Vicky was towed to the new, closer shop, but sat in the weather for another 6 months. At this time my friend says if you can find someone to do the body work it would speed things up a lot, and he had a great lead.
I contacted Mike Tootle at Tootle’s Design and Fabrication Services who came and said he could do it. 4 weeks later all the body work had been done, car had been sand blasted and primed ready for the next step. Things were finally happening.
After this, the transformation began. My friend who was only 8 miles away put it all back together, including new seals for the doors, windshield, and rear window. Then he painted it the original color, platinum gray and colonial white. He replaced a passenger side door glass, was able to install electric windshield wipers, and a new headliner. Then He got it running again which allowed me to drive it home by using a chair with the legs sawed off. There was NOTHING inside the car.
Finally, Victor was back in my garage for me to restore the inside. First, the floor was painted. It was in this stage I replaced the dash speaker and added a rear speaker, re-wiring both. I then installed the carpet and seats. I put in seat belts for safety. Door panels and window trim were installed as well as the sun visors and mirror. I also replaced a heater valve, so I now had heat,
After this I took Victor to get steel belted radial tires put on and get his exhaust pipes to come through the bumper. Driving the car home from this project brought out a much bigger problem. The gas that had been in the fuel tank for 2 plus years had turned into a rusty slush that screwed up the engine. It was a sad day for Victor, but I was determined to bring him back to life.
I loaded him up on a rental car carrier and took him to the man who rebuilt the engine on my 1955 Customline several years ago. Once again things slowed down as all kinds of problems came up with the rebuild. But, finally, 11 months later, I drove Victor home with all 225 horses back in the engine.
After getting him back home, I continued the restoration in my garage. Once a new radio was installed, I was able to replace the heater plenum and ducts as well as a new glove box. I detailed the engine compartment and replaced all the original decals. The last little details are replacing the gas tank sending unit and fixing the interior light, plus some paint touch- ups.
Finally, Victor is back. He is now ready for parades, drive-ins and maybe a car show. It’s been a long tiring journey, but still very much worth it. I must give a special thanks to Toby Gorny, CVA, for his help and encouragement, and to Norbert Doll for hard-to-find parts. By the way, I was 75 when I started this project.