March 2023 - Dave and Pat Bliss' 1956 Club Sedan
My love of Fords and 56 Fords started with my first car a 1956 Crown Victoria. Not the usual girl car, as it had a louvered hood, 3 speed with Hurst shifter, 292 with tri power and shaved door handles. The tri power with the progressive linkage was a preview to my passion of drag racing in later years. We married young at 17 and 18. Most likely too young but must have been meant to be as we will be celebrating our 59th anniversary this year. After we married the 3 speed was replaced with a 4 speed. The body was on the rough side and we got tired of exiting out the windows when the switches did not work. After a few years my husband Dave found a 56 Crown with a good body and door handles which he gave me for Valentines’ Day. Parts were swapped; the interior received buckets seats and a rolled and pleated interior and Vinyl top.
Things were going well until May 8th 1968. My husband had just started a new job and was working swing shift. When he came out after work the Crown was not there. The 56 was found the next day stripped. The 4 speed, 63 ½ XL Galaxie bucket seats, Crager SS mags, Grant wood steering wheel, battery, dual-point distributor, 10 grand tach., 4-barrel carb and manifold, drive line, heater fan & chrome housing were missing. What they didn’t steal they destroyed. They slashed the headliner and the interior that they left. Push rods were bent and sand & dirt in the engine. All the windows were broken along with slashing the vinyl top.
Fast forward to 1990 a 56-club sedan was for sale, and I purchased it. It was rough, all the windows were cracked, needed paint (looked like a pinto with splotches of black and gray primer). Our kids were embarrassed to be seen in it. But it had one unique feature, factory power windows, which would sometimes work. Came with an extra door as the driver’s door had rust and a dash, which later I will be glad to have. I drove it for a year then parked it and started buying parts and getting some rechroming done. And as with many projects it sat. We were heavily into drag racing which was taking up our time.
Fast forward again to December 2016, it is time to complete that project. The car had been stored in a dry garage all this time. We towed it down to our shop and started to tear it apart. I knew I wanted a top loader 4 speed, which I have fond memories of racing in our early years. (Dave wanted a 5-speed) I wanted a 302( Dave a 351W) I got my wish. We thought it was a solid car. But after tearing out the carpet we were met with rusted out floor boards. We had to replace all the floor boards. We put in on a rotisserie with the body still on the frame to make the added work easier. The steering was replaced with a Unisteer power rack (which I would not recommend). Front disc brakes were added along with a line lock. A new fuel tank to replace the old one that was wrong and had been replaced when it had been repaired from Left rear damage before we acquired the car. Smaller full-size T-Bird steering wheel replacing the original stock 18-inch wheel with a 15-inch steering wheel from American-Retro., LED sequential flashing rear taillight set from Casco, and so on and so on. Many small parts were ordered. A 6-hole gauge set was added to the dash to gain a tach. The ash tray was deleted and the padded dash was sewn. Ron Frances wiring system with a drop-down fuse panel made rewiring a snap. The spare dash we got when purchased was great for wiring, filling the ash tray and adding the 6-hole gauge set on the bench. Remote keyless was added along with electric wipers. We were learning as we went when it came to installing windows and window felts. Luckily, we purchased the new windows back in 93. Factory Electric windows were rewired and factory switches retained. Found out the reason the rear passenger window did not work was it was missing the motor. I always wanted to sew the interior. I have sewn all my life but a whole interior was a challenge. A visit to SEMA in 2018 gave me ideals for the seats. LeatherSeats.com had a booth with acrylic stitch templates with patterns for top stitching. This gave me ideals for the pattern I wanted to incorporate in the Seats. Viewing YouTube, books, and guidance from a customer of ours that was an upholsterer, the seats were completed. Dave and I built the door panels and added 64 Fairlane armrests. Because of the absence of the manual window mechanism there was a space to put speakers in the doors. A new head liner was ordered which we attempted to install. But it was a little more that we could pull off. Pyramid Upholstery in Tacoma came to our rescue. Still need to upholster the sun visors and finish off the trunk. It was a lot of work and fun working together to complete this project. Plan to go to a few cruises and parking lot shows this summer.