December 2022 - Robert Smith's 1955 Crown Victoria
I bought my 1955 Crown Victoria back in 2007. I had been specifically looking for the Tropical Rose/Colonial White color scheme and I found this one on the internet in the state of Indiana. It wasn't in perfect shape and it hadn't lived a pampered life. Somewhere along the way, the 272 motor had been replaced with a good used 292. It came with an air cooled Fordomatic transmission and had no power steering or brakes. Someone had the exterior rust fixed, painted it and installed a new interior. Then at some point, it sat unused within an estate for ten years. Someone bought it from the estate and then flipped it to me.
After I trailered it home, it started up right away, but the brake wheel cylinders blew out when I was backing it off the trailer. The long lay-up was the likely culprit so the first thing on the repair list was to fix the brakes. I enjoy mechanical work, so I made sure everything was up to snuff before I took it on the road.
The first major restoration project I undertook was replacing the inner rocker panels and inner quarter panels. Whoever did the body and paint hadn't touched those rusty areas. While I was working under the car, I scraped and painted the underside of the car with POR 15. I also replaced all of the fluids, belts, hoses and tires and gave it a complete tune up. The car came with two parts radios, and I was able to cobble the radios into one working unit.
Once I started driving the car, it became apparent to me that power steering could really transform the drivability. I researched Ford manuals for power steering part numbers and then collected the parts via eBay and the FoMoCo Times. Power steering really made driving much easier, especially parking. My wife was now able to park the car.
Next, I refurbished the whole engine compartment and trunk with a lot of degreasing, some light sanding and new paint. Eventually, I installed a disc brake kit on the front and rebuilt the rear wheel cylinders. The disc brakes really added a lot of stopping power and reassurance.
As my time with the Crown Victoria moved along, I continually detailed it and updated worn mechanicals with stock parts. The white vinyl sections of the upholstery required continual cleaning as they tended to show every speck of dirt that came their way.
She has never won a "best in class" as her restoration is now over 20 years old. It has won a few "People’s Choice" awards, but the best affirmations are the smiles it always generates.
Its latest accolade was serving as a moving background vehicle in the soon to be released Netflix movie named "Rustin." The engine temperature hit 220+° during 17 takes of a 30 second scene on a 70° November day in Pittsburgh. It was selected to be the lead car in another Rustin scene that only took 8 takes.
It still retains its 6-volt electrical system with distributor points and two-barrel carburetor. Even though I maintain it well, I have had to come home on a flatbed twice. I have accepted that this inconvenience is just part of owning a 67-year-old vehicle.