Tom Nichols Sept 2023 Cover

Back to the Early Days

Growing up in Dearborn, Michigan, there were no school buses; you walked to school or had you own car. So, at 16 I purchased a 1950 Plymouth for $25. It ran good except when it was cold or rainy! I moved on to a 1953 Chevy that I purchased for $50 that lasted a few months, until my neighbor put his 1954 Ford Victoria up for sale for $175. I finished high school driving the 54, while dating my wife to-be, Judy, in it.

I went on to Henry Ford Trade School and then some college. Into the business world I owned two gas stations (when they were not convenience stores) and then a motorcycle dealership for 32 years. Married my high school love, raised a family, and have owned 35-40 cars and hot rods along the way. Bought my wife a 1965 GTO for our 30th wedding anniversary and we just celebrated our 57th with it.

Nine years ago, I sold a 1940 Ford Coupe that was my driver to most of the shows and cruise-ins. I spotted a 1954 Ford for sale and showed my wife. Said I would like to reminisce the old days. Once again, she gave me a big YES.

The Crestline Skyliner was in good condition, but not like I wanted it. I didn’t want a show car, full restoration, or trailer queen; but a high quality, reliable, updated driver. The little 239 Y-Block went first, replaced with a 292 for a bit more power. Backed up by a 4-speed automatic transmission with 9” Ford rear. Of course, now living in Florida, installing air conditioning was a must. Adding power steering, cruise control, power front disc brakes, electric wipers, and AM/FM/CD radio made it even more to my liking. Repainting, together with some chrome refresh, really gave the car more pazazz. A snap-in headliner looking cover for the “glass” roof helps with staying cool.

Thankfully, I am able to do most of the work myself. However, that background has not helped in some cases with parts. It seems the 54 is a transitional year from the earlier to the later and it is hard to find companies making replacement parts. Even when I found some aftermarket that were supposed to be exact replacement, I wound up having to return, modify, substitute, or look for used. While a few 1955/6 parts are the same, it seems a many are unique to this one year. It is interesting to note that Hemmings Motor News includes the car in the “Ford 1954-UP” section of the magazine; guess that is due to the drive train and some front-end parts.

The car is now my “driver” to shows and cruise-ins, both local and out of state. Although it is only a decent quality driver, it has managed some trophies. Maybe, in part, to being unusual to see these at the many shows. The “glass” top is really different. Some recent adventures in the car from Florida (all driven, not trailered) have included trips to Louisville, KY, Gonzales, LA, Memphis, TN, Columbus, OH, and Olde Town Kissimmee, Tampa, & Daytona, FL. You may see me around, the car is easy to identify with the license plate that was Judy’s idea MEMRZ,

I look forward to many more years of getting around in this car and am hopeful that I can get it to next year’s Crown Victoria Association convention.

Submitted by:
Tom and Judy Nichols,
Middleburg, Florida