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Cover Stories


I had been looking for a 1956 Sunliner for a few years when I saw an ad in Hemmings in 1983. A man in Dallas, Texas was selling a Fiesta Red and Colonial White 1956 Sunliner. It turned out that it was Amos Minter, of Thunderbird fame. Well maybe not so much then, but very much so a legend now. the car was going to auction if he didn’t sell it soon. We talked on the phone a few times and decided on a price, based on what he said the condition of car was. My son Frank, who was 12 at the time, and I got on a plane and flew to Dallas. I had money stuck in my socks and hoped we wouldn’t need a plane ticket back. Amos picked us up at the airport with the Sunliner. As soon as I saw it i knew we would be driving home to Downers Drove, Illinois in the car I had wanted since I was 11 years old.

I purchased my 1956 Ford Crown Victoria in 1959 from Ron Shuttleworth, a salesman at Essex Farmers Ltd, Car Division. I was employed there in the Tractor Division, working toward my mechanics license. The car was red and white and I was the second owner.

I have enclosed some photos of the early years standing on the roof of the car seemed like a good idea at the time, but I was young and not so wise and did not realize the value of my pride and joy. The young lady leaning on the car in one of the enclosed photos was my girlfriend who later became my wife. These days, no one, wife included, leans on the car. In late 1962 my brother hit a tractor while driving my car and caused extensive damage to the front end. The damage was repaired and I had the car painted, opting to go with one colour-Honduras Maroon. I have enclosed a photo of the car just after the work was done, complete with bug screen to protect my new paint job. In 1966 my car went into storage for several years. Damp barns and garages with dirt floors were not ideal conditions, but they were my only options at the time.

Here is a brief synopsis of my Vicky since I purchased it in 1982 at an auction in Del Ray Beach, Florida. Something just made me bid on the car. I was bidding against two other people. I do not buy on impulse, but I just had to have this car. It was going to be just a driver at the time. With 3 on the tree and a 272, I never planned on doing any more on the car but to drive around in it. I had a black and white Vicky in 1955 and always wished I had never sold it.

Then along comes my neighbor who had a 1967 Vette. He kept begging me to go to local car shows, so I finally acquiesced and went. Low and behold, I won Best Ford! At this point Fairlane Fever takes over and I start the process of improving the car, step by step. Then another friend talks me into join- ing the AACA and I continued to refine her as best I could. Finally in 1988 she won her Senior Award and many preservation awards thereafter. In 1994 comes the divorce and cars are no longer at the top of the list.

In 1999 I moved to Boynton Beach, Florida on a private airstrip with a 3,200 foot hanger. Vicky was banished to the dark recesses of the hanger only to be taken out for a drive around the airport on occasion.

Over the next 10 years I pondered as to what to do with her: should I sell her as is or try to find someone to do the necessary work after years of neglect. I found a local guy to do some paint work on my airplane. It turned out very well, so I asked Joe Earl if he might be interested in working on my Vicky. He said he was slow at the time and agreed to do the work. And so the resurrection of Vicky began in earnest. Fairlane Fever was once again in full mode. Two months later, after new paint, some new chrome work and many thousands of dollars, here Vicky stands, once more, in all her glory. I have already forgotten about the money! I just love to stare at her after all of these years. I am sure you feel the same about your cars. Hope you enjoy the photos.


A Ford Fanatic

Ronald Stuke

I was born in the late ‘40’s and lucky enough to grow up in one of the greatest, if not THE greatest era of automobiles ever. I was raised on a farm in eastern South Dakota. My father was a car nut so every fall when the dealers released the new models we would spend the day in town viewing all of the new cars. That was nothing new for our era, but I believe that excitement is what made car nuts out of many of us forever.

Growing up on a farm allowed me to learn how to drive tractors, trucks, all types of machinery and cars. By the age of 10 I was operating everything including my grandfather’s 1956 Victoria, whenever I could convince him to let me drive it from one farm to the other to run an errand. His two-tone light green dark green Victoria was the fastest vehicle on the farm and was really fun on the gravel roads with curves! This is how the Victoria became my first favorite car. When I saw a Crown Victoria I thought wow, even better!

I was 15 years old when the 1956 Ford Hardtop came out. Later on I started working in an AMOCO service station on the north side of Pittsburgh where I filled their tanks and cleaned their windshields. I really liked the open look with the windows down. I was too young and also a lot of dollars shy to buy one, but I knew at some point in my life I would own one. Well that point took a little longer than I expected, 50 years to be exact.

I have owned my Vick for about 10 years and it was a 20, 20 car--20 miles an hour at 20 feet it looked okay, but I was not happy with it and decided to take her down to the first bolt and bring her back up. That was 4 years ago. As we started tearing her down it became evident that this car was originally a sky blue and white two tone that had been re-painted dark blue. With this in mind I decided to bring her back to the original colors and also equip her with every accessory made for the ’56. Little did I know what I was getting myself in to. She now sports 52 Ford accessories from U.S. and Canadian accessories books and 22 after market accessories.

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.