January 2010, was the year the project started. My aunt found a 1956 Ford Mainline for sale. I didn’t know what it looked like until she showed me, but thinking it was in good shape for the year made the deal to bring her home on a cold, snowy day from Wayland, New York.
My aunt showed me black and white pictures of my grandmothers Ford that she had before I was around. Hers was pink and black, and I thought wouldn’t that be cool to paint it just like grandmas. Then changed the plans and decided on the blue and white.
She was plain as could be, we say the diamond in the rough though. She was straight six, with three on the tree. I couldn’t drive it, so we looked for something different to put in it. We got a 302, bored 30 over and an automatic transmission. My aunt Carol, and brother Brian rebuilt the motor, and my cousin Mike rebuilt the transmis-sion. My father, Harold was the electrician for this project. We replaced the suspension, tires and wheels, radiator, put a Holly four barrel carburetor on the motor along with lots of other things that needed replacing. My brother was the brains on changing the brackets to change the rear seat.
In the fall of 1955 I was riding my Schwinn Panther. While riding past my neighbors house (who was the town J.P.) I was able to check out the brand new 1956 Indiana State Police cars. I stopped for a closer look. One of the troopers left the J.P.’s office and he must have seen that I was interested and he took the time to point out the new features of the 1956 or maybe he just wanted to check out my Schwinn as it was decked out with all the accessories! In any case I never forgot that experience. After 3 years in the Army as an MP. I considered becoming a State Police officer until they sent a recruiter to interview me and explained the pay scale and that was the end of that! Fast forward to 1976 when Toby, Sandy, Dinah and I met and decided it was time for the 1955-56’s to be recognized.
Through the years I have owned several 1955-56 Crowns, Converts and pickups. Through the club I’ve made many friends and one of my close friends is Dick Snyder from Cloverdale, IN. In 1995 I explained my interest in restoring an Indiana State Police car. He being from Indiana knew what I was talking about. I told him I was looking for a 1956 two-door Mainliner preferably black with a gray interior, stick shift and no accessories. In less than a year Dick called and said “I bought you a car”. I asked him “What did you buy me?” He replied “Well what did you tell me you wanted.” He found a one owner 1956 Mainliner in Kansas. The only accessories were a heater and turn signals. Perfect. The car was painted green but I didn’t want to bring that up!
In October 1954 I went to work for the railroad. I owned a 1954 ford. On a Saturday in 1955 I walked into the ford dealership in the little town of Baxley, Ga. There set a red and white 1955 Crown Victoria. I thought it was the most beautiful car I had ever saw. I had to have one.
Luck was with me. A man at the railroad owned a Tropical Rose and Snowshoe White one. He was going to join the military and if I would give him two hundred and fifty dollars and take up payments I could have it. Finally I had my dream car!
It had a high performance engine from the factory. It was a fast car. Car owners would come down from Atlanta, Georgia to race my 1955. It was also mentioned in a true life novel about fast cars and pretty women. One evening late I was heading out of town with a buddy of mine I had just looked down at the speedometer and I was running close to ninety miles an hour. When I looked up there was a pulp wood truck setting in the middle of the road with no lights. I hit the truck. My 55 caught a fire and my friend Howard McCloud whom I had just passed pulled us out saving our lives. My Crown Victoria was gone. I stayed in the hospital for over three weeks.
When I was fifteen years of age, I rode my red and white Western Flyer bicycle to the Wauchula Ford Dealership located in Wauchula, Flor-ida. The dealership had a red 1955 Ford Vic-toria 2-door hardtop on the turn table in their show room. I drooled over the prettiest Ford I had ever seen! I promised myself I would one day have one of those cars for my very own.
Six years later at age 21, I purchased my first 1955 Crown Victoria, black in color, for $750. I have the original bill of sale, from Harold Peeples Motor Sales, Ft. Meade, Fl. Same year I had “Vicky” painted Torch Red since my younger brother Robert lost control of the car on a wet road and went through a barb-wire fence, scratching the car all over the entire body. My promise I made at age 15 was now fulfilled. “Vicky” had a dealer option continental kit, one spot light and front grill guard when purchased.
Upon my marriage in December, 1962, I traded “Vicky” for a mobile home. Six months later my finances afforded me to buy “Vicky” back and drove it for another five years. In 1963, I purchased my second “Vicky”, a red and white 1955 Crown Vic. I was now the proud own-er of two Crown Victorias. I then traded the red and white “Vicky” to brother Robert for a 2 door '56 sedan.
In 1965, I became a deputy Sheriff and focused on law enforcement and put Fords on hold. With much regret, I sold my red 1955 Vicky in 1966 for $650.
I built my '55 Crown Vic Glasstop Bumble Bee "my way", as Frank Sinatra would sing. Like many other CVA cars, it is comprised of the best parts I could assemble from quite a number of other cars, including a two-door post Mainline Sedan, two rusty Crowns, a 1971 Ranchero and a '55 Glasstop. The drive train is all-Ford with rebuilt 351 Cleveland and C-4 automatic from the 1971 Ranchero, but is installed such that an original 272/Fordomatic will drop right in. My builder used lots of good old American ingenuity and creativity, and the final product is something I am proud of. I have wanted a Bumble Bee since 1991, when I saw one at the National CVA Convention in Fredericksburg, VA. Finished in 2014, it was four years in construction.
My love for '55 Fords began in 1963 when I was a senior at Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida. My first car, a'53 Plymouth Cranbrook, had been rear-ended by a Greyhound bus, and even though my driver's door said "CAUTION: BLIND MAN DRIVING", I won $200 in court. Add $225 to that and in 1963 I bought my schoolteacher driven four-door '55 Customline 6-cylinder automatic with 40,000 miles. I had saved all that money working for 25 cents an hour at my parents' A & W Root Beer Drive-In. As a senior at Florida State University (FSU), four years later, my '55 had 140,000 miles on it, and I sold it to another FSU student in 1967. Like some of you, I lost my cherry in a '55 Ford. It would be the late 1980's before I started getting back into '55-'56 Fords, with a series of 25 project and parts cars. My sweet wife of 37 years, Becky, was always tolerant of "that crusty old junk". We both worked paycheck-to-paycheck until 15 years ago, when I bought a solid '55 Sedan, which had had a Crown roof, welded on. Crown doors hung, and rear Crown windows bolted in. That project car 15 years ago cost $1,500 and it had a smoky 6-cylinder automatic. It killed every mosquito within miles whenever it huffed and puffed. Then in 2009,1 found Jack Evans in Annapolis. He assured me that with plenty of money and my accumulated parts, he could make my parts into a nice car. He had done two Crowns before, and he made mine stunning, after four years of part-time work.
Some time ago, in fact a long time ago, I purchased a 56 Crown, then I started to buy, repair, and sell 50’ Fords. Along with my brothers we set up a shop, paint booth and all – which was in one of my brothers garage.
We did a lot of cards to different stages, we never called ourselves professionals, but the bottom line is we were darn good at what we were doing. We would do cars to different stages of repair. Some cars we would remove stainless, doors, hoods, trunks, etc. for a more complete job without actually restoring the complete car. I guess in some cases the true meaning would be, it don’t go but it sure does shine, would have applied. Bottom line, what you got to spend is what you get. That is still true today. Working on cars was our hobby by trade. Myself and three brothers own our own construction company.
This car started out in life belonging to a doctor in Santa Fe, New Mexico and he had given it to his son to use while in university. The doctor had removed all the side trim and painted the car white.
After that the doctor sold it to someone in Albuquerque, New Mexico who picked up a set of side trim for a 1955 Mercury. He sold it to the man in Chama that I bought it from. Dick Snyder went to Missouri and got me a wagon with the correct trim on it, which we restored and used.
I purchased the 1956 Mercury Wagon in Chama, New Mexico. I had recruited fellow club members Craig and Sharon Seyfried of Cannon City, Colorado to go and look at it for me. With Craig's approval I made the purchase. Craig and Sharon were good enough to go back and pick up the wagon and bring it to a regional meet at Yates Centre, Kansas that fall. Gerald Upshall and Dick Snyder went with me to pick it up. We had a short visit with many club members at that meet in that interesting little town.
We got the car back home OK and a couple weeks later started working on the wagon. We did not do a frame off restoration on it - as is was going to be a good driver quality car. Our body and paint guy could not believe how clean and solid the body was. The motor and the transmission were completely rebuilt.
Sold - $45000. That’s the last words I wanted to hear. I got back into my car and headed home - back to Wisconsin - from a long drive to Lancaster Ohio. Okay, here’s the deal. Growing up in Berwick Pennsylvania, I had a car that I had purchased with the help of my uncle, a 1956 Mercury Montclair Convertible. Now you know, being 17 in 1961 with a convertible, you kind of had it made, especially with the chicks. It seemed almost every night there was a dance somewhere that I went to. Well, one night a Friday night, my friend Larry and I were heading to a dance somewhere near Shickshinny, and of course, I was in a hurry to get there. We never made it to the dance. We were traveling on old country roads, a d of course I was showing off as to what the old Merc could do. I hit a bad curve doing nearly 90 and lost control and flipped the car over into a field. God had to be looking down on this idiot and neither my friend nor I was badly hurt. Larry was thrown out of the car as it flipped and I had a death grip on the steering wheel as it went over. Larry was fine but somehow my arm got messed up and swelled up almost as big as my leg. The police showed up. I lied like hell saying I was run off the road by another car. I never got a ticket, but my car was totaled. That’s what showing off and being a smart a__ got me. Now I was paying the bank for something I no longer had. I remember buying that car from a car dealer called Remco Mercury in Berwick for $600.00 Okay, lets fast forward to the $45,000 sold part of the story.
We were always a Ford family. Our family car when I was a child was a 1956 Customline. My father drove a 1955 Mainline 100 miles for his daily commute. So as a child, that image of a car, that specific 1955/56 Ford shape, is what was instilled into my psyche - THAT is what a car looks like.
My next younger brother and I were close in age and had a lot of similar interests. Inspired by the 1973 movie American Grafitti, we decided to fix up our grandfather's - by then abandoned - 1957 Custom. We thought all the 50's cars in the movie were so cool. (Sadly, by then the '55 and '56 were gone.) With help from our father we got the engine rebuilt. We spent $300.00 of our hard earned cash from jobs at the local grocery store on body work and a black paint job. Adding chrome slot wheels, shackles, air shocks, and some 60 series tires to the back and we were pretty sure we had "the bitchin'-est car in the valley."
I soon decided to pursue a profession outside the retail grocery industry so went off to Iowa State University in fall of 1976 - initially the '57 was my college car. Before I finished school in 1980 with an engineering degree a lack of funds meant selling the car to yet another brother.
Fast forward to 1986 and the original brother finally found his dream car; a first generation Mustang 2+2. Pretty soon I caught the Mustang bug and obtained a '65 Mustang convertible. Education and a steady job had its perks!
By Charles Poulter, Stanley, WI
I have had the pleasure of owning two 56 Sunliners over the years. The first one I bought when I was in college just before graduating in the mid sixty's. A friend needed money and I paid $250.00 for it. It was what I call "orange" and white and I really did not like the orange. At the time I worked at a Ford dealership and had access to the body shop. It soon became red and white with new seat covers to match. I drove it for a while and then planned to get married so I sold it for $500.00. I thought I made a fortune. The "kid" who bought it wrapped it around a tree very shortly and so ends the tale of the first Sunliner.
Several years later I started to realize that selling the Sun liner may not have been the best deal ever made. I found another one stored in a shed that gave new meaning to the words basket case. And believe it or not I paid $250.00 for it. Long shackles had been added to the back with big chrome reverse wheels. About everything that was not absolutely necessary under the hood had been removed. So began about a ten-year search for things like a heater core and the like. It had a floor shift that worked upside down. Flipping the arms on the transmission solved that problem which was one of the easier fixes in this whole project. Two big bucket seats graced the front so began the search for a front seat. Not just any front seat but the Fairlane seat with the notch in the middle. And a 55 or a 56 will work but there is a little difference.
I bought this very 1954 Ford Sept. 23, 1954 when I was 19 years old for $2,169 from Carson Motor Co., Gibson City, II. I traded in a 1950 2-door Ford for a difference of $1,250. I trusted my future wife to take a carload of Female classmates on their senior trip to Wisconsin Dells before it was a year old. She made it home safely without a scratch. My wife and I dated in this car, went on our honeymoon to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We brought our new born daughter home from the hospital in 1957, two years later a son and five years later another son.
The last license tag on the car when I parked it 1965 with 95,000 miles on the odometer. No major work was done on the car, just oil changes, tune ups and brakes. It sat for almost forty years. Fast forward to 2004 and I had retired and needed something to do, so the restoration began. After two days of removing rusty parts and bolts I thought, do I really want to do this? It was too late to turn back by then. The first project was to weld in the new rocker panels, floor pans and new floor braces. I then removed the body and had it sand blasted before taking it to a local body shop to have the finishing work done. The body man painted the interior, firewall, door frames and inside of trunk.
While the body man was working on the body, I stripped the chassis down to the bare frame, had it sand blasted and powder coated. The assembly began by installing new brakes, wheel cylinders, stainless steel brake lines, new wheel bearings and rebuilding the differential. The front suspension was all bushed as well as the rear springs with new anti squeak pads. The next thing was to rebuild the engine. Being a mechanic by trade, this came easy. I stripped the engine down, had the cylinders bored to .030 oversize and the crankshaft ground to .010 undersize. Installed new pistons, rings, bearings, camshaft and rocker arms. The cylinder heads were taken to a machine shop to have the valve guides redone and new valve seats installed. After the engine was finished, I rebuilt the transmission and steering gear box.