Submited by: Philip Meek
Back in my high school days in Dallas, there were only three things that interested the guys- - football, girlfriends and cars, and not necessarily in that order. Concerning cars, one of the rich kids came to school in a gorgeous deep triple black Crown Victoria with red and white interior, sparkling chrome and shimmering stainless steel that festooned the chariot, dual rear antennas, fender skirts, “flipper caps” and a continental kit. The sound of the rumbling V8 with dual glass packs was pure music! It was love at first sight! However, it would be many moons until September 2013 before I fulfilled my high school dream and bought my 1955 Crown Victoria.
After negotiating on the phone for weeks and receiving lots of photos from the seller, we closed the deal. My brother, Gary, and I drove up to the Texas Panhandl e to bring the car back to Austin. I thought this would be a quick, relatively inexpensive restoration (wrong!) since it had a “new” paint job that was seven years old, but the car had never been reassembled or driven after painting. The car also had a new, correct ABC Interiors upholstery kit that was partially installed. Importantly, the body was in good shape with no rust.
We quickly determined that only a few parts to the mostly disassembled Crown Vic had been segregated, bagged and tagged. Almost all of the stainless trim, the bumpers and grille were off. Significantly, a large number of parts, fasteners of all types, etc., could not be located. After hours of searching, we found some of the missing parts interspersed unmarked in the garage among parts of several other cars that were being restored.
When it came time to load the car onto the trailer the real fun began. The engine was difficult to start and stopped repeatedly. The brakes and parking brake were stuck as a result of the car sitting idle for years. It was very difficult to move the car and drive it onto the trailer. But we finally finished the task and headed for Austin. Once home, I gave the car a thorough going-over. It became apparent that I had overestimated the condition of the car, and that it was going to take a lot more time and treasure to restore it to the level that I wanted. But I knew this car had good “bones” and would be beautiful when finished.
In 2009 five-years away from retirement I bought a 1956 Customline Victoria from one of my street rodder friends.
I figured this car would be a nice retirement project, plus I still had five years to gather parts and get everything else I needed bought and paid for.
Now for some of the car’s history . . . a many in a near by town started fixing it up, the engine and brakes were rebuilt but sadly he passed away before he got any further, after that the car sat outside for a while.
The mans widow gave the car to one of his friends, there to it sat outside. My friend bought it from him with thoughts of building it into a street machine with a blown small block Chevy, but he was too busy with other car projects, so he sold it to me, now its sitting in my show where it is nice and dry.
I started a frame off restoration in 2010, replacing quarter panels, inner and outer rocker panels, floors, rear trunk floor, tail pan and door bottoms.
By 2013 the body was solid again so I started the finish work, smoothing and black sanding the body.
March 2014 rolled around, I retired and the body was ready for paint. I painted the car in July 2015. I wanted to have a numbers matching car.
The Fifties were famous for automobiles with outrageous styling, extravagant use of chrome and all manner of fins evoking jet planes and rockets. Competition for customers in the explosive post WW II car market was fierce. An extensive array of fantastic style and power combinations were used to lure buyers into the showroom. But, in the competition for the carefree sports minded buyer none stood out like the 1956 Ford “Sunliner”. The “understated” Thunderbird inspired styling was “subdued” compared to the competition. Nevertheless, Ford was the hands down winner in the glitz and glitter department, leading the way with a bewitching assortment of color choices and combinations. Ford put buyers in a tropical mood offering 19 exotic pastel colored paints like Peacock Blue, Mandarin Orange, Golden Glow Yellow and Sunset Coral along with 14 tutone combinations coordinated with upholstery ensembles featuring new all vinyl tutone interiors.
Ken’s “southern” car was built at the Ford assembly plant in Dallas Texas and eventually found its way to Glencoe OK where it came into the possession of Robert Kuehn of Stanton NE. In February 2010 Ken purchased the car from Mr. Kuehn in relatively rust-free condition. He immediately commissioned Mr. Kuehn to undertake a complete bolt by bolt restoration to his exacting standards. After 15 months of painstaking work, minute attention to detail and using NOS (new old stock) parts installed with expert craftsmanship the car was brought back to showroom condition.
Although Ford made 58,147 Sunliners in 1956, over the years the harsh elements took their toll on these beautiful convertibles making them very hard to find. But, rare and beautiful don’t begin to describe this car. Resplendently finished in glowing Sunset Coral** over shimmering Raven Black paint the tutone scheme is beautifully separated by chrome side trim that starts at the taillight and curves up and over the front fender ending at the headlight bezel. The new for ’56 tutone vinyl interior matches the exterior theme.
Crown Victoria Association member #3068, Dean Held, from Oregon City, Oregon has just retired from Hyster-Yale Group on March 31, 2017 after an impressive combined 30 years of outstanding service with the company. Dean has been active in the club for many years.
Dean began his career with Hyster Company in 1962 immediately after graduating from the University of Idaho with his BS degree in Agricultural Engineering. Dean started out as a Test Engineer at the Hyster Proving Grounds in Portland, Oregon, where he spent the next 5 years. He next ran the Hyster Engineering Lab at Hyster’s original Portland, Oregon factory for 2 years. Then in 1968 he transitioned to the newly completed Hyster Technical Center as a Supervising Test Engineer. During the next decade he was responsible for the test and development programs for a vast range of Hyster product including: Hyster Big Trucks, Winches, Cranes and Compactors. During 1977 and 1978 he transferred to the then company-owned Hyster Sales dealership in Tigard, Oregon as the Product Service Manager.
In 1978 Dean took an opportunity outside the company with Lumber Systems, and then went on to run his own company constructing sawmills throughout the United States while based out of Idaho.
In 2003, Dean returned to Hyster Company to assist us with the development of a brand new 1 to 8 Ton product series just getting underway. He became the Prototype Truck Assembly Leader for the entire 1 to 8 Ton engine powered forklift truck program, organizing and fully stocking the facility to build 40 complete prototype forklift trucks.
Having an intense interest in Canadian cars owing to being raised in Buffalo, New York with a Canadian-born mother with family in Toronto, it was no coincidence that I saw many cars offered on both sides of the Canadian-US border as uniquely different from each other. I collected Meteor and Monarch brochures since I was young and never thought I would be owning one of these cars. The evening of February 5, 2006 made me a 1956 Meteor owner when I won the car in an on-line auction. After one calendar month of waiting, the transport rig pulled up in front of my house in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and the beauty was delivered.
I had never owned such a antique car before so was a greenhorn about getting its various issues resolved but while on my cardio walk a by chance meeting in a local park of a fellow Ford fanatic who was a member of a local car club, was almost immediately on the right track. Ted Valis owned 3 Shelby Mustangs and knew his way around such vehicles as well as getting me into the club with all its automotive-pertinent resources. At that point, I knew I was on the right track and a happy ending would materialize.
In the summer of ’09, I was between hot rods and keeping a daily watch on HotRodHotLine.com, when I saw this really beautiful ’55 Ford Crown Victoria for sale in the Dallas, Texas area. A quick look at my mileage plus put me in the SW of the U.S. in a matter of days. Arriving at the owner’s home, I saw the car under a carport, and knew I had to use my poker face on this one, because it was going to a new home. Owner/builder James Moore in Arlington, Texas had done a very nice job of not only building a stout car mechanically, but had done just the right amount of do-dad removal to make a nice mild custom. He had started with a local unrestored original ’55 Ford Crown, and totally took it apart for a rotisserie build. The chassis was upgraded with 5.0 fuel injected Mustang power backed by a Ford AOD transmission and 8” Ford rear axle with tall gears.
Granada dropped spindles and power disc brakes round out the front with KYB shocks. After I purchased the car, it went to Rich Hoak, just outside of Portland, for a power rack and pinion steering unit consisting of a ’89-’93 Chevy rack utilizing a FATMAN cross member. Rich also made one off sway bars for the front and rear. The car now tracks like a Mustang, changing the attitude a ton from the stock ride. I also spent a day with Mitch Kim of Portland. He is a master pin striper, and a winner of the VonDutch award given at the Grand National Roadster Show. With the body stripped, and the holes filled left by the ornament removal, James sprayed it with Competition Orange and Alabaster White base coat/clear coat paint. The trunk is opened with an electric switch backed by a mechanical pull inside, and two speed electric wipers rounding out the upgrades from stock. Besides restoring all the stainless, and adding new pieces where needed, James placed extra gauges in the dash for oil pressure and water temp. He also added the original NOS ’65 Mustang air conditioning under the dash and installed ’56 Ford taillights. Rolling on original steel wheels and white wall tires from Diamond Back, the Vicki headed for Fort Worth, Texas to Fuller’s Auto Upholstery for a matching custom interior. When I bought the car back in 2016, it returned with 15” Murac ll wheels and P205/60 R-15 and P215/65 R15 Pirelli tires.
My plan is to return it to that look. I am really glad I had the opportunity to have this car back in my 1940 garage. It just barely fits, but it is home again. Having started in ’61 with a custom ’55 Ford Tudor in Massachusetts as my first car, it is only fitting that I do a little time travel and have another ’55 Ford.
Submitted by Mike Novak-Smith
My long term interest in mid-1950’s Fords stems from growing up with these cars as my parents liked Ford products. My dad was in sales for the Johnson Wax Company and was supplied a steady stream of company cars which he was allowed to select, and were mostly Fords.
My parents purchased a 1956 Sunliner convertible from Hertz Rental Cars in 1958 when I was 1 year old. They had owned several British sports cars such a MG TD and a Triumph TR2, but decided that they needed a bigger car for a family. The Sunliner was purchased to have a fun car that would carry more passengers than the small sports cars.
The car that my parents had a 312 V8, automatic transmission, power steering, and a radio.
The car was used by my parents daily until the late 60’s and finally in 1971 it was sold for $125.00! This was a California car with no rust, everything worked, and had about 60,000 miles. It was just an old car at the time with not much value to it. Compare the 1971 sales price to the current cost to re-chrome the front turn signal housings at a cost of $800.00. Prices have gone up.
My interest in the cars continued and finally in 2008 I decided to take the time and money to purchase a Sunliner myself.
Even though I am located in Southern California, often referred the car capital, finding a Sunliner to buy locally proved to be difficult. Finally I found a car in Hemmings that was located in Boston. I hired a car inspector and then made the purchase and had the car shipped to my home in Riverside, California. The car came with a 292 V8, automatic transmission, power steering, and a radio and heater. The car was the same colors as the one I grew up with which was Fiesta Red and Colonial white.
Submitted by: Ron & Patti Lokay, Northampton, PA
Back in 1996 my wife Patti and I decided to purchase a classic car. We had a difference of opinion about what we wanted to buy. I, myself, wanted a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria while Patti was looking forward to buying a '55 Ford Sunliner. Saturday evening came and we decided to go to Macungie, PA. where The Wheels of Time Car Club was holding their monthly cruise. Strolling along we didn't see any Crowns for sale but Patti spotted a red and white Sunliner and on the front seat laid a sign, ' For Sale '. To be honest I did not pay much attention to that car because I wanted a Crown but that wasn't what was going on in Patti's head. We left the park and went home.
Monday morning came and I called a friend of mine, Tommy, who owned a motorcycle shop and he told me about a customer of his that not only had a Crown Glass top but also a Sunliner and one of them was for sale, but he didn't know which. He gave me the man's phone number, I called and made an appointment to see the cars. Well Tommy was right but the man was in no way interested in selling the Crown but the Sunliner was up for grabs. To my amazement, it was the Macungie '55. I brought my friend Bill, a very knowledgeable car guy with me, to access the vehicle. We looked it over, I took it for a test drive and found some problems with the car. We left and on the drive home Bill and I discussed the car and what we had found wrong, Bill suggested I bypass this Sunliner but I thought I owed it to Patti to at least let her look at the car. I should have taken Bill's advice, Tuesday morning came and with Patti in tow, we went to Rich's house to see the Sunliner. To my wife, it was instant love, to me, it was a nightmare about to happen. We could not come to terms on the money and as we were leaving I asked Patti what did she want to do. She asked if I still wanted a Crown and I replied that I would wait it out if this was the car that she really wanted. Well, unfortunately for me, that was the wrong question and answer for she turned around, went back into the house and plunked down the money and we were now the owners of a 1955 Torch Red/Snowshoe White Fairlane Sunliner convertible.
The following Saturday evening after getting a friend to put an inspection sticker and tags on her, we attended a car show and PRTLDY, as she would get to be known, won her first trophy. The Sunliner's paint was not bad, Torch Red & Snowshoe White in color she looked decent. Her interior was another story however. It was custom made and didn't have any arm rests, not too bad. It would have to do because she had mechanical problems that needed attention first. The suspension, ball joints and other stuff had to be replaced. The steering wheel bearing was rusted fast and had to be redone etc. Rather than go through the entire 20 year rebuild of PRTILDY, by year, I'll just tell you all that has been done.
For some time now whenever I encounter a classic car, I can’t help but wonder, “what if these cars could talk”. The knowledge of their past would not only be invaluable but entertaining as well. That is certainly the case with my 1955 Ford Sunliner. You see even though the car can’t talk, I know its previous owner of 48 years, Mr. Bob Nolan of Elyria, Ohio.
In 1968 this car had reached the point of no longer being useful to its owners. The car had followed the path from being a beautiful, new convertible with its first owners to resting beside an outbuilding waiting to be scrapped. Also in 1968 Bob Nolan was looking to buy a 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible. As fate would have it, while attending a party at a friend’s house Bob saw this car. It was setting beside that outbuilding under a security light. The front fenders, hood, grill assembly and radiator were gone, leaving the engine exposed. The top had been badly damaged due to someone thinking they could put the top down while driving the car at speed. The original front seat had been replaced with bucket seats and the engine and Fordomatic transmission were both badly in need of repair; essentially a “totaled vehicle”. Upon asking about the car, Bob was told that the “junk man” was coming the next day to take the car away.
Submitted by: Steven Sobotta
Growing up in Wisconsin I don’t remember a time when dad didn’t talk about his Fifty-Five. I knew the story, from an early age, of how he’d come to own it, how he’d spent the entirety of his savings account in 1963 to buy it, and how grandma had pitched a fit.
It was part of my upbringing to be able to identify any old Ford (actually any old car, but of course Fords were the priority) that we might pass on the road or at a show. The times when I’d get it wrong, dad would give me the business and I didn’t like it one bit. So when I’d come home, I’d comb through my collection of car books until I found the car in question and memorize the cosmetic markings specific to the year in question waiting for the chance to show dad what I’d learned. I never received a report card, but dad hasn’t had to correct me in quite a few years.
As the years went on I learned one indisputable fact, there has NEVER been and NEVER will be a more beautiful car than a red and white 1955 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria. You all are invited to try and change his mind.
Like many, dad’s dream of one day treating the carriage that he and mom had first dated in to a full frame-off restoration took a backseat to day-to-day life. Mom and he helped get my sister and I through our bachelor degrees, paid off the house and of course kept food on the table and saved for the future. Over the years we’d pick up NOS parts at swap meets and talk about what had become our shared, but all but dead, dream.
I don’t think my dream to one day surprise my dad with a fully restored car is unique to me, but I never thought I’d actually get the chance to actually live any part of that dream.
by: Frank La Forge - Wichita, Ks.
Dick Price Jr. and his lovely wife Becky - (CVA#7327) have been CVA Members since December of 2006. Both Dick and Becky were born and raised right here in Wichita Kansas which is located in Lower Midwest Region of the CVA where Don Robertson is our representative.
Dick began a 2 year build on his immaculate 1955 Customline in 2009. After a few months of work Dick had only one goal in mind and that was it must be finished by January 20th 2012 for the inaugural "Starbird-Devlin Cars for Charities" Rod and Custom show in Wichita Kansas. That mandate became a reality as this "Custom Customline's" interior was being finished literally as the car was being set up for that show as one of their 'Featured' automobiles. Dick Price Jr., who is President of Price Brothers Equipment Company here in Wichita Kansas, is on the board of the Starbird-Devlin Cars for Charities, which is a 501(c)3 charity benefitting Starkey Inc. and the ARC of Wichita, both programs designed to enrich the lives and to promote independence for individuals with intellectual disabilities. So, obviously it was imperative for this Cruiser to be in place at this "Wichita Tradition" of the newly named iconic and longest running indoor car show in the country under the new direction of Starbird-Devlin Rod & Custom Charities Car Show.
Before getting into the nuances of Dick's 'FRSTLUV' (as his specialized license plate shows) I need to give you a little background on the man who BLEEDS Ford Blue!
Dick Price Senior's father (Dick's grandfather) was an account who's failing eyesight was the beginning of 'Price Ford'. No longer able to see numbers as clearly as needed on a ledger he decided to begin selling Ford Model T's in 1916. Dick's father was an accomplished amateur golfer who had matches and held his own with the likes of Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. Dick Price Sr. wanted to become a Pro golfer in the Forties. However, he was told by his father (Dicks Grandfather) that the game of golf was not exactly the way to raise a family and that he was going to sell cars - that was where the stable flow of money to support his family was going to come from. So, shortly after WW II 'Dick Price - Lincoln Mercury' was born and opened on the same block of South Topeka in Wichita Ks. as his father's 'Price Ford' was located. Ironically my own father purchased a brand new 1956 Custom Ranch Wagon from Price Ford in the same Diamond Blue as my '56 Sunliner.