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Cover Stories

By: Hank Dawson, Brighton, MI

There was a very special activity that happened after we returned from our wonderful convention in Somerset, PA. Janet and I had our 1954 Ford Sunliner invited for the shooting of the movie “Flipped”. I want to back up to the beginning of what happened to get us into the movie.

The staff of the movie officed in a warehouse in Ann Arbor, MI. Sherry Cassar was the Program Coordinator in charge of lining up the cars for the movie. Sherry set meetings with everyone who was selected for interviews with their cars. There were 400 cars to be reviewed for the movie, including the “Twin Pines” milk truck that was at the Greenfield Village Motor Muster this year. Sherry and Dave, a director, held the interviews in the parking lot of the base location warehouse studio site in Ann Arbor. We had two interviews with our 1954 Ford, at that time, one of the 400 cars in consideration. They viewed the cars over a three week time frame. On our second visit we were told that out of the 400 cars there were 20/25 selected for the movie. We were one of the cars! Pictures of the 25 cars were posted on the wall of the office area in the warehouse and assigned a scene in the movie and a date that the car was to be at the selected site. Our dates were August 7th and 8th, 2009 in a local neighborhood where the shooting took place. Also, at second meeting Dave provided us with information regarding possible treatments to our cars to make them look older and used as drivers. I was a little concerned about the fogging spray they use, but luckily they didn’t have to use the treatment on our car when we were on site. Our car was used for two days, on the main street of shooting, where the families lived in the movie. The movie time line is set between 1957 and 1963 in our neighborhood shoot. Note that in the photos you will see a 1950 Plymouth in the driveway across the street from our 1954 Ford. Our 1954 Ford convertible was parked on set with 1957 license plates on it.

November 16, 2010

Dear Paul:

Attached are pictures of my dream car. When I was growing up my parents could not afford a car like this one. I was born in Florida in 1946 so I do remember these cars but as stated my family or friends could not afford the ’56 Crown Vic. When they were new, 1956, the cost for this car was around $2,300. Today to me, it is priceless!

I met my husband Ed in the early 1990’s. He had a 1950 Dodge that he had restored and it was pretty neat. I guess this is when I became interested in old cars, caught it from my husband. We were married in 1998 and endured many struggles but both of us worked hard, set goals, and had dreams. One of my dreams was to own a 1956 Ford, did not have to be a Crown Vic. In 2008 my husband told me to get serious and find a car that I wanted. First he tried to get me to buy a new car, actually a 2010 Mustang. He gave me a choice, “old or new. That was an easy decision for me as I had been looking at the 1956 Ford Crown Victoria’s on the Internet and fell in love, almost as much as I love my husband but not quite.

I was talking to my nephew about this and he told me he knew a guy in Atlanta that was selling one, his name is Bill Grey. My nephew introduced us and I asked Mr. Grey to send me pictures so I could see it. I knew this was the car for me with the first picture I saw. It was exactly what I had dreamed of but never imagined I would find. Remember, we were looking for any 1956 to restore.

When I found out how much the gentleman was asking for the car, I knew we really could not afford it. My husband was in a bad accident, which was not his fault. It took us a full year to get back on our feet. My husband had told me to be patient and we would find a solution that would allow me to have my dream car.

Back in March of 1957 I traded my 1954 Plymouth Convertible in on a 1955 Crown Victoria, red and white, 272, 3 on the tree. Back then, the cars were neat, but the 1955 Crown Vic really stood out with all that stainless and two-tone paint scheme. I was dating Sandy, not knowing then that was the girl who I would be with forever. I asked her hand to be my wife, Christmas, December 25, 1958, I was in the printing trade at the time and we planned our wedding date for October 24, 1959. With household expenses, rent, etc. the $33 month car payment did not fit the budget. It had to go. I sold the 1955 Crown Vic and got enough to pay off the note, and had money left to buy a cheap ride, a 1953 Studebaker Coupe. When my dad found out that I sold the 1955 Crown, he said he should kick my butt twice, first for selling that beautiful car, and second for buying a Studebaker. My dad was a great guy, and he was always repairing someone’s car every weekend. So I was under cars at the age of 12, watching my dad do clutches, valve jobs, brake shoes, change wheel bearing, etc. and that is how I got into automobiles. It’s dad’s fault I’m a car nut.

At the annual Crown Victoria National Convention, we have both Display Class and Judged Class cars. The majority of cars at the convention are in the Display Class, and are voted on by everyone who regIsters at the convention. The cars that are entered in the Display Class are vehicles that dub members drive or trailer to the convention and usually drive to various dub activities that take place during the week long convention. Display Class cars are for the most part drivers, cars that have been restored to drive and have fun with. Judged cars, on the other hand, are cars that have been restored for CVA Concours Judging. Judged cars are almost always trailered to the convention in an enclosed trailer. They must be restored exactly as they were when they left the factory. Exterior and interior colors must match the data plate and be colors that were available on that year and model of car. The tires must be bias ply not radial and they must be the proper size for the year and model of the car. If a car came from the factory with a six volt electrical system it must still have a six volt electrical system and not converted to a twelve volt system. Radial tires and six-to-twelve volt conversions are okay for Display Class cars but not Judged cars.

Should you find yourself down in Southern Florida anywhere near Stuart, and you take in a local car show you just might find a pair of red 1955 Crown Victorias. We (Jack Mason and Donald Cramer) attend a lot of the southern Florida shows together. We both own 1955 Crown Victorias, both are white and red. The difference is that mine has a steel roof and a continental kit, and Don's has a converted glass top with no continental kit. Besides both having the 1955 Crown Victorias, we also belong to the same car club --the Treasure Coast Street Rods of Southern Florida. It was founded about five years ago, and has a membership of about 45 members. Both Don and I also belong to the Crown Victoria Association. Don's 1955 Crown Vic was featured on the cover of the November 2009 Fomoco Times issue. "From Hard Top to Glass Top" was the title of his story. Also, I had my car and story in an earlier issue of the Fomoco Times; it was back in March 2007, the very last issue printed in black and white. I always thought it would be nice to have my car once again in the magazine, but this time featured in color. Just recently I was mentioning this to my friend Don Cramer. He suggested that we could take a few pictures of both cars outside of our meeting places as well as a few inside, and add a revised story of the one that I had written for the March 2007 issue. Since then I have added a pair of spot lights and more stylish exhaust system, a new radiator, and the radio antenna has been moved to the trunk of the car.