April 2023 - My 1956 Ford Victoria Dream Car that did not Happen
To begin with I will reveal my age. I was born in 1944, and at about the age of 15 I started to develop a hankering for wheels. Unfortunately, at that point in time, I could hardly afford to keep tires on my bicycle, which an uncle of mine had graciously bestowed upon me, let alone buying a car or even a tank of gas if I did have a car. Anyway, on to my story, my dream car then was a black and white 1956 Ford Victoria (the true 2 door hardtop), a dream that has never left me. Then after several years of financial scratching, I earned an engineering degree, then onto a career, marriage and raising two boys who also became engineers, I was able to turn my dream into some possibilities and started the search, still on a somewhat limited budget.
I watched the antique auto magazines and the internet keeping my eyes and ears open. Living in Maine at the time, I attended car shows and travelled throughout New England to look at different cars advertised as almost perfect. I looked at some of these "perfect" cars that for some reason by the time I got to look at them, there were pieces of chrome missing, torn upholstery, engines that needed rebuild, etc. My mechanical talents are not that great, so I declined those "perfect" cars.
However, I didn't give up and at the turn of the century, was receiving the publication "Old Cars Weekly". In 2001, I noticed an ad for a 1955 Ford Two Door Customline in Topsham, Maine approximately 200 miles from where I lived. At first, I ignored it, not exactly what I was looking for. Each subsequent issue, I would look at the ad and say to myself, hmm, it is only a day trip away. Finally, I called the gentleman and talked with him. He described it as a rust free original, in good mechanical condition (yeah, right). However, I decided to take a Sunday drive to look at it. When I walked in his garage and looked at it, my jaw dropped. It WAS rust free all original, in excellent condition, except the front seat upholstery was showing some age, but no rips or tears. The odometer showed 48125 miles, undocumented, but I could find nothing to indicate otherwise. The original paint was very good with some very slight fading on the front fenders. The engine started with about two flops and ran excellently and VERY smoothly and quietly until you stepped on it when the dual glasspacks gave a throaty sound, music to my ears. I bought the car and drove the 200 +/- miles to home - it purred like a kitten with the glasspacks rumbling under the floorboards.
I got several trouble-free years with the car with a lot of admiration whenever I was out with it and had no hesitation about driving 150 miles to a car show. I must interject now, though, that I had a grandson born in 2005. Back to that later. This car was all original and my desire was to keep it that way, even to the 6-volt positive ground electrical system, this amongst all the noise "oh change that over to 12 volts, nothing to it and it will be so much better". NOT, that 6-volt battery cranked it over just fine and the first time I had it out at night, I couldn't believe the headlights. This after thinking, I better get home before dark with those 6-volt headlights. Heck, I could see almost to the middle of next week with them.
Other than a new battery, a new light bulb now and then, a new heater mixing valve, the most major thing I had to do was a new exhaust system from the manifolds back. I did take off the old bias ply tires and replaced them with new Coker www radials (well worth the money). However, at about 51000 miles it started working not so well and to skip the diagnostic details, the engine needed a rebuild with the camshaft being the major culprit. After teardown we found the block was good, cylinder walls good, didn't need reboring, heads and crank good. After installing the new camshaft, pistons and rings, valves, cleaning out the heads it was ready to go. Of course, the whole engine was cleaned and repainted in the process, and I climbed into the empty engine bay and gave it a good cleaning and refreshed the paint. Also, while apart, I replaced the radiator, replaced the 4-blade fan with a new 6 blade and a new clutch plate.
Now, back to my grandson, Nick, born in 2005 who is now CVA member 9600. At about the age of 5 he fell in love with the car and the passion only grew with age. As he grew, he also developed quite a natural mechanical aptitude (which I don't have) and a passion for tinkering with old vehicles. I had a few opportunities to sell the car but couldn't bring myself to part with it and finally decided to pass my ‘55 Ford on to my grandson where I know it will be loved and well taken care of. I have included a picture of me handing the keys to him with a big smile on his face.
Now, back to my dream car that didn't happen. After a lot of searching, surfing the web one day in 2020, I found a 1956 Crown Victoria (not a Victoria) for sale, close to me, in Canada where I now live. Both myself and the car being in Canada eliminated the international border hurdles. The car was not exactly what I was looking for, being a two-tone blue Crown instead of a black and white Victoria. However, it had been restored, body, frame, upholstery was in excellent condition. The glass, paint and chrome are also excellent. A few mechanical issues to deal with- a brake job, new heater core (not necessary) since I only run it in summer, some rewiring. Anyway, I decided it was close enough and Vickee as I have named her is now in my garage and I have included a picture of her also.
I have also included a picture of my 1993 5.0 litre Mustang GT convertible which I purchased new in March 1993, but I will leave that story for the future.