On July 17th 1986 my wife Susan and I had the pleasure of purchasing a 1956 Customline Victoria that we discovered in a local newspaper ad. Our collector car journey began with seeking a car from my wife’s year of birth (1955) and were in hope of finding a Crown Victoria in our price range. Along the way I found a ’55 Chevy Bel Air 2 door hardtop which Susan nixed immediately as it burped antifreeze in our driveway when I brought it home to show her. After I missed a nice ’55 Fairlane 2dr sedan in a car corral at a local car show I was starting to get discouraged until that fateful ad appeared. At that time I had never realized that Ford had made a Customline 2dr hardtop having seen many 2dr and 4dr sedans. I was about to get an education when I went to see the car which was parked in a gas station lot in North Andover, MA about 20 minutes from our Atkinson NH home.
Not only was it a Customline Victoria, it was a 223 6 cylinder 3 on the tree with overdrive, manual steering and all. It had just been driven from southern California to Massachusetts the previous fall by its (at the time) current owner and spent the winter in a cozy garage for the usual long New England winter. Since it was a California car from new it had absolutely no rust on it (to this day the entire underbody is original and looks like a 3 year old car’s chassis) something not seen in New England. After a test drive and determining a few things that had to be addressed, I made an offer to purchase the Vicky. After a month of back-and-forths my offer was accepted and the red and white Vicky became ours.
I’ve been looking for an old gas pump for some time, but never found one in MY price range (cheap).
Then one day my neighbor gave me a catalog for making crafts for yard ornaments, bird houses etc. The catalog was from “The Windfield Collection”, www.windfieldcollection.com, if you’re interested.
In the catalog I found a picture of an old gas pump, to be made of wood. Since I was a cabinet maker before working in a steel mill, I thought it might be a good winter project! So, I called the company and ordered the gas pump blueprint, hose, decals, transfer paper and plexiglass. Then I waited for Winter!
When the weather turned cold, I went to the lumber yard and bought 1 x 4‘s, 1 x 8 ‘s, 2 x 4’s, 2 x 6’s, 2 x 12’s, dowels, one sheet of ¾” plywood, and one sheet ¼” plywood.
Now I am ready to start. Of course, I also needed paint, glue, and screws. The material cost me around $330. Not as cheap as I thought it would be! But it will keep me from boredom. And not being in Alice’s hair!
The year was 1952. The Ford dealer in our small town, Hiawatha, KS, got a 2-door station wagon in. Dad traded our Henry J in on it that day. We had a Frazer, Kaiser and our ’51 Henry J as Dad worked for the Kaiser/Frazer dealer in our hometown after he got out of the Army. Now we owned a Ford; maroon with cream paint around the windows, 2-door, 6-cylinder, 3 speed on the column and overdrive. It took us on our summer vacations, sometimes in the mountains of Colorado in which there were time that we weren’t too sure that we would make it to the next peak. I remember Dad driving it backwards out of campgrounds more than once to get the gears low enough.
In 1956 the folks traded the ’52, that as a kid I thought we would have forever, in on a 1956 Ford; a 2-tone green Town Sedan - V8, automatic with power steering, power breaks, air conditioning, white wall tires, full wheel covers and skirts.
I was 15 and just got my driver’s license; Dad was working two jobs as most people did at the time, and some still do. Mom was working during the day and going to secretarial school in the evening in a town 40 miles away two nights a week. Dad was busy and Mom didn’t like to drive so I drove Mom to her classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. While she was in class I would go to a movie. It came down to me being the only one that drove the ’56. As an added bonus, the guy my dad worked for part time had a red and white ’56 Ford Victoria that was left at our place in town every so often and I had to drop it off out at the farm.
I have been playing around and restoring 1954, 1955 and 1956 Fords since 1982. That is when I purchased my 1954 Sunliner. It is a duplicate of my car that I owned in high school. I still own this car.
Over the years I have restored many 1955 and 1956 Fords. Most of them have been convertibles. All the cars that I have worked on were rust buckets. Never have I had a chance to work on a rust-free car.
I purchased a 1956 Ford convertible at the Carlisle swap meet. Other club members that were with me could not believe that I would buy a junk car as it was.
One of the 1955 Ford convertibles that I restored was a body-off restoration.
I produced a video of it while I was working on it and have sold many of the tapes on the internet and to other club members. The video was seven hours in length. The restoration took me two years to complete as I do all my own work when restoring a car.
Submitted By Travis Sheaffer
Picture it. Seattle. Labor Day weekend 2019. Your humble mild-mannered (ha ha!) reporter lands in Seattle on a flight from Motown. I was there to attend a Regional Meet. I landed in Seattle on Friday, August 30th and picked up my rental vehicle. I found the highway driving around Seattle to be not too bad. Of course, if you have ever driven in New York City or Chicago, everywhere else is not too bad. I arrived at the hotel about dinner time and I managed to find a nice local restaurant to quench my dinner time hunger pains and then settled in to combat the jet lag.
Saturday morning, I was up and on the move in search of a story. The meet started off that day with everyone meeting at Dennis Barci’s house. Dennis and his wife are awesome people! I looked around for familiar faces and lo and behold I saw Brian Kelly there. Brian had driven his classic car all the way from British Columbia to the Lexington, Kentucky National Convention. We first met on the phone so I could guide him into Lexington from the Columbus, Ohio area. I believe I told him to get the heck out of Columbus as soon as he could, or he may get swarmed by Dirty Buckeyes (Go Blue!)
We toured Dennis’ shop and then we hopped into the vehicles for a cruise. I rode with Brian and we had an awesome conversation along the way. If you ever need to know anything about forestry or plant life, Brian is your guy!
I met my husband George in 1986 and he was passionate about 1956 Ford cars and trucks then and had been for some time. His first car as the son of a farm family was a ’56 Ford and the joy he received from owning that car fired his passion. There are stories in the farming community of when George outran the cops with his beloved car on occasion.
A motorbike accident in 1973 left George in a wheelchair, but that never did slow him down much. He still farmed, worked as an Occupational Therapist at a local Brain Injury Hospital in Ponoka AB and continued to accumulate and work on his 1956 cars…..always buying……never selling. So, as a result there are a few ’56 Fords still sitting on our farm
In 2009 we acquired this 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner convertible from Westward Auto Inc in Westlock AB. The previous owner had purchased it from eastern Canada. He said he drove it to Post Falls Idaho for a CVA convention putting on 750 miles and it never missed a beat. It has a 292 motor, automatic transmission, dual chrome OSRV mirrors, rear mount deck, antenna, continental kit, white wall tires.
Being in a wheelchair, George had to install hand controls in the car, which is easily done, in about 15 or 20 minutes and you are ready to go. We took the Sunliner (in trailer) to Penticton BC for the Annual CVA Meet a few years ago. What a wonderful weekend we had. We have taken it to car shows and cruises in our area and also in the Ponoka Rodeo Parade on several occasions.
Over the years, George has gained a vast knowledge of 1956 Fords and loves to share that knowledge chatting with fellow car lovers. His favourite car magazines, which he has received for many years are the Fomoco Times and Old Autos, (a Canadian Newspaper for the Enthusiast).
In the last few years George’s health has not allowed us to be as active with the association and the Sunliner has been stored in its trailer for safe keeping. But George’s love of the 1956 Fords still goes on and has prevailed for over 55 years!
Ponoka AB Canada
I have been a member of the CVA for many years. However, I haven't written a story for the newsletter in quite some time. I did contribute to the October 1995 issue and in that story told quite a bit about my passion for these cars. Also, in February of 1998 my 1955 Customline was on the cover.
It seems that all of my life I have been crazy about cars. I was born in October of 1950 so at Christmas time in 1954 I had just turned 4 years old. Even at that young age I still have clear memories of our family buying a brand new 1955 Ford Customline 4 door sedan. I remember the salesman coming to our house and taking us for a ride. I remember there being no ash tray in the center of the back of the front seat. The dealer replaced it but it was always gray and never matched the interior of the car which was green. Years later my father told me that he had originally ordered the car in tan (Buckskin Brown) with a white roof. It seems that the dealership which was Bennett Ford in Bayonne, NJ had gotten the identical car in Sea Sprite Green and offered it to us. My folks wanted a two-tone car so they accepted this car on the condition that the roof would be painted dark green (Pinetree Green). Looking back at it I really think that the green looked so much better. It’s interesting since I have noticed that the combination we had was not offered by the factory. The dark green roof only came with Neptune Green. I guess at that time it didn't make much difference as the dealer did whatever it took to make the customer happy. The car was a 6 cylinder with a three-speed stick. It had a radio, heater and a clock that was wound manually. It also had whitewall tires. It came with wheel covers but my folks wanted the standard hubcaps to they got switched out. I remember distinctly that the glove compartment door had a V8 insignia on it. I guess the V8s outnumbered the 6s by so much that it was just a matter of habit. Although they did get the callout on the front fender correct! I remember the next time I saw the car was in my grandmothers’ garage where my father kept his car. I opened the door and instead of the 50 Studebaker there was this brand-new Ford!
On August 2, 2019, Marcy and I celebrated 50 years of marriage. During that entire time, Marcy (really Marceline) gets credit for her patience while I chase parts, spend money, and get greasy in the garage. Here is the latest adventure which she supported. In February 2016, I bought our 1956 Victoria from an Arkansas seller on eBay for $28,000. Friend Butch Forte and I drove a trailer down to Gravette, Arkansas to get it, and drive straight back to North Haven, Connecticut, non-stop, to bring it home. It was done to a good standard, but I wanted better. So, a repaint, new interior, new rubber, new brakes, rebuilt motor and transmission were done, to the tune of $18,000. I also installed a new windshield, replated bumpers, Diamondback radials, and glass packs. CVA member Hal Bailey of Savona, NY sold me the missing bumper jack. I lowered the car two inches and added Dodge Lancer wheel covers. I kept one of the 10 Commandments for Car Collectors: “Thee shall not tell thy wife the cost of the latest restoration; at least, not all at one time.” I am 76 and Marcie is 72…but she looks younger than her years. Look at how neatly she fits in the trunk of our Victoria!
Much credit belongs to my expert friend, Jim Donroe, who was meticulous in doing upgrades on mechanical restorations. All was done in a little over a year. Then in 2018, I took the car to the Adirondacks Nationals with 6,000 cars competing. Our car was voted “One of the Top 50”, and it will be in the Winners Circle this year. It is always driven, never trailered. Our ’56 also took 1st Place at the Booth Memorial Show, Time Machine Car Show, and the Quinnipiac Auto Show.
-Can you tell me your background and how you got into classic cars? Where do you live in the county?
My husband, Mason, is a car enthusiast. He always worked on vehicles and loved detailing vehicles as well. Mason is from a large West Virginia family. His brothers and friends enjoyed NASCAR and classic cars. From this, you got to join them so I have learned to love it too.
We bought our first classic vehicle which was a 1993 Ford Lightning about year 1999 and we had this truck about 10 years. It was the first Lightning that Ford made and they only made a limited amount of these vehicles. We started attending the Cruise In at the Miami Township Kroger’s across from Meijer’s. We were approached by Doug Wimberly of the F100 Ford Club to use our truck for driver’s introductions at the first NASCAR Truck Race at Kentucky Motor Speedway in year 2000. Doug lined us up by year of vehicle. We had the pleasure of driver, Mike Skinner in our truck. It was a lot of fun and we got to meet the Ford drivers (Joey Logano, Rick Crawford, Jon Wood, Dorsey Schrader, and Jeremy Mayfield). We were hooked.
We sold our truck in 2006 and purchased a 1979 Cobra 351 Mustang. We updated about everything on this vehicle and painted it twice over an 11-year period. It was a hot rod for sure. Mason entered this car in many car shows and won numerous trophies. Jack Roush loved this car and signed it for us.
We enjoy attending Cruise Ins versus Car Shows. Main reason you meet so many wonderful people all over the country and build a great network of people to find parts for your vehicles.
In 2006 a good friend of mine went to the Tri-State Auto Swap Meet in Denver, Colorado. The swap meet is held in the Western Stock Show Complex the first weekend in February off of Interstate 70. As we walked through the complex looking at the vendor booths filled with tons of parts we came upon a booth with a poster board with pictures of things for sale. There was a pictures of a 1956 Ford Customline four-door sedan. My friend and I studied the picture for a few minutes then continued looking for anything au-tomotive that we could purchase four our projects. All too soon it was time to head back to Colorado Springs. On the way back home we both wondered why we had not talked to the guy with the poster and picture of the 1856 Ford and got his phone number. Oh well to late now.
A year passed by and Sharon, John and I went to the swap meet. There was the same poster board with the picture of the 1956 Ford. We stopped and talked to Bill about the Ford. He said that the car was located in Colby, Kansas where he lived. We got his phone number and said maybe we will come look at it at a later date.
Another year passed by and now the year was 2008. My late friend John Williams saw the poster board and lo and behold the Ford was still for sale.
I came across my great-looking F100 truck 13 years ago. I found it nearby in East Lakeland, Florida. This is a short-bed step side, had been in a barn for about 20 years and it cleaned up quite nice, done up in red paint with a solid body. Just $4,000 and it was mine, all mine. That makes the seventh Ford truck which I now own.
But I am getting ahead of myself. I am retired now, with 70 years of age looking me in the eye. But I worked all my life as a boiler maker, Local 433. I traveled all over the country on various industrial jobs. However, I was born and raised in Plant City, and have always lived here.
Annette and I have a total of 16 children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. So I have to keep on buying Ford trucks so I will have one for each of them. Fortunately, many of them live in Florida, so they won’t need to be driven too far. We even see our relatives and friends every week. Every Saturday morning about 15 of us meet for breakfast at Snell Grove restaurant. Sometimes they even help me fix my trucks! Now back to my F100.
After I bought the truck, I researched its history and discovered that it was originally purchased new in 1954 by a farmer from Orlando, Florida. The farmer then moved to Kansas City, Kansas and titled it there. After a few years he moved back to Florida and titled it there. The farmer and the truck got old. The truck was parked in a barn for 20 years and the farmer was parked in the local cemetery.