February 2023 - Pretty Penny
Submitted by Wayne and Susan Berger, Woodbury, MN
My first car was a 1968 Mustang fastback that I bought new the Spring before I graduated from high school. I worked many hours at a gas station and at a Howard Johnsons to buy it. I have always been interested in old cars having pursued many car magazines during my teen years. My first old car was a 1947 Dodge 4 door with suicide doors which my college roommate came across when he was looking for a garage to use during the Wisconsin winter. My dad helped me tow it home and I got it running after having been stored for quite a few years. The Dodge was not my dream car so when I found out about a 1929 Model A Tudor, from a machinist at a plastics factory that I was working at during college, I sold the Dodge and purchased the ’29 Ford. The ’29 was a basket case and mostly complete. After finishing college, the Ford was stored until I bought my first house in 1976. The house had a 3-car garage, so it had a dedicated stall. The house was on a large lot, and it needed a lot of improvements, so I never got to work on the Ford much. Then I met Susan shortly afterward and after 4 years of dating we married in 1981. The Ford came with us during two more house changes.
I got my first taste of a 1956 Ford when I borrowed one from my brother when I was doing a clutch job on my 72 Torino. My ideal car was a 56 Crown, but I never came across one that was complete or that I could afford at the time. Then I saw a 56 Mercury Montclair in Richardson, Wisconsin on my way to our lake home. It was untouched and was originally an Arizona car. The purchase in 1998 came with the old Arizona title. I drove it a little around my home going for rides with my two boys. We sold the Model A soon thereafter. With the Merc sitting in my extra garage for roughly 12 years we decided to either finish it or sell it. Of course, I did not want to part with it. During a 2010 trip to the Iola Wisconsin car show and swap meet I came across a restoration shop that I was interested in. After a visit to the shop with my wife, the Merc was taken to the shop in 2012 for a body off restoration keeping it original. The decision to change the color to Heath green for the exterior stemmed from the Glamour tan color not being available for the interior upholstery. The Merc was at the restoration shop for about a year before we had to halt any further work because of the cost. The main items left to be completed were wiring, rear side window install, upholstery, and startup.
Knowing Dick Raths from another car club and Tom Ripplinger from the Iola car shows I was introduced to the CVA Club. Dick found out about my car condition from an article in the Iola car magazine that my car was featured in when it was at the restoration shop. Dick came over to my home to check out the Merc and then persuaded Tom to also take a look. They both decided to help me finish the car and Susan greatly encouraged the completion. Many trips were made to my home to finish the remaining tasks and get the engine running. We are very thankful to Dick and Tom for all their help getting our car on the road. The Merc went to the recommended upholstery shop in Feb 2017. The upholstery job came out great using the correct materials from SMS and really inspired me to make the 2017 CVA Convention in Springfield, IL. Surprising to me we took second place and we have been attending the yearly conventions ever since.
Additional items that have been added to the Merc since 2017 are a restored steering wheel, restored hood hinges, better spinner hubcaps, door handle paint guards, tissue dispenser, running (fog) lights, and an updated data plate. In the near future I plan to add rear bumper exhaust extensions.
Susan decided to name the car Pretty Penny. Wherever we take it, people comment how pretty it is. And as you all know old cars require lots of pennies. It may have taken 20 years to complete, but we are loving our 1956 Mercury Montclair.