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Cover Stories


It was the summer of 1976. I was 14 years old and busing tables part time to earn some money. We were on vacation driving to my Uncle’s house in Henagar, Alabama from our home in Michigan. I always remember the stories my dad told me about his first car, a ’55 Ford Fairlane and how he would punch it at the red light and the tires would just spin, back in Harriman, Tennessee. I saw old pictures of it in black and white and it was always fresh in my mind.

Driving through the countryside, we would always spot old cars and I was pretty good at nailing the year and make, but this time Dad saw it first. It was a black and white ’55 Ford Crown Victoria with raised white letter tires. He turned the ’71 Chevy Caprice around and we drove into the driveway to get a closer look. The owner came out and let us look at the car. It was mostly all original except the Crown Victoria emblems were removed and he had two sets of points installed as he raced it on the weekends. It had the original 272 Y8 engine and was in pretty good shape. My dad talked to him on the side and asked if he wanted to sell it. The next thing I knew we were taking it for a ride and bartering for the price. Mom and Dad were a little quiet but I new something was up. All Dad would say is we will see.


Well, I suppose you are dying to know how this project came about. My business partner Jim Rock has a yellow ‘56 Ford Convertible. He kept saying he would let me drive it. This was a few years ago and it just never happened. The sure guarantee of driving 56 Ford, I thought, was to purchase one! My preference was a hard top with automatic transmission. The color was flexible. However, it was just a thought at that point. Yet, I admired many of the cars at the CVA national conventions, which increased my desire to own a ‘56 Ford even more.

Meanwhile Jim’s convertible needed some specialty work and Don Stickler referred me to Steve Rocke of Canaan New Hampshire to help out. He lived 143 miles from where we live. Steve had built cars for Dick Metz.

Columbus Day weekend of 2006 arrived and we both planned to see Steve Rocke with Jim’s car. We noticed upon arriving that there was a ‘56 Ford for sale in Steve's yard. The color was right (Diamond blue and Bermuda blue). It was automatic and a hardtop. The poor girl was sitting there as if to say “Please buy me!” I decided that this was the car I wanted. Thus began a long money pit restoration job. The date was October 2006. After finding out that Steve had worked on the dream cars of Dick Metz, Steve was the one I wanted to restore the car. Seeing that I know nothing mechanically about ‘56 Fords, except how to check the oil, fill the gas tank, and turn the key in the ignition, Steve would be doing virtually everything. My job was to write checks, more checks, and more checks!

I never thought of owning a skyliner, much less a 1954 Dealer Demonstrator with a glass hood, as well as glass top to go along with the 1955 and 1956 Crowns my wife wrote the CVA about. When I read the ad about a barn find, I couldn't believe it. "New barn find" 1954 Crestline Skyview, H/T, V8, AT, PS, PW and power seat, in same family since new. After calling the number to discuss the car, I asked when I could see it. The man said he was having some work done on the brakes so it could be driven. He took my number and promised to call. I wanted to be the first to see it. He assured me that he would call.

About 3 weeks later he called. I was the 12th call he made. It was short notice. I was given only 3 or 4 days to prepare for the 6-hour drive, get trailer ready, and have cash for purchase. I still had 2 days on the road before I could get home! On Saturday evening I headed North with the intention of being the first to arrive and purchase the 1954 Skyliner. The agreed time to meet was 8 am, but I was there at 6:30 am, anxiously watching the clock. At 8am, I called to let him know I had arrived. I was the first one there to see "her."



We are Lorraine and Russell Karnik from Fort Atkinson and this is our life story of our cars. We have been very happily married for 43 years and we have 4 grown children and 10 grandchildren.

It all started with my first car that was a 56 Ford two-door sedan. Lorraine was my girlfriend at the time and later she became my wife. When we were going together I worked at a Shell gas station. I had this car for 2 years and then I had a bad accident with the car and it was totaled, so there went my car. My second 56 Ford was a 2 door Victoria hardtop. I painted this car and put a 312 engine in it that I built up, bored 90 over 11 & V2 to 1 piston, high performance cam, 3 deuces, 3-speed on the floor and 4:11 gears in the rear end. It was a very fast car. I had this car for 2 years and sold it. I had found a 56 Ford Glass Top but by the time I got there the guy had already sold it. In the meantime, I got married to Lorraine and we raised our family of 4 children and had built our home. I put my dream on hold, but in the back of my mind I was always thinking that some day I would find my dream car. I wanted to find and own a 56 Ford Glass Top. They were so hard to find in our area.


I was a junior in high school, 16 years old, when my Dad got me a job with the Ford dealer. The dealer was moving from downtown to “Auto Row”. My job was grunt work, moving the parts department and assembling shelving. The job lasted until I turned 17. They wanted to keep me on, but I needed to be 18.

Since I couldn’t work, I saved parts books from the late 40’s to the 60’s. Since there was no recycling back then, they would have went to the garbage. Little did I know these would be a resource later in life. I did get to know the parts guys at the Ford Dealer pretty well. At the time I was driving a 55 Sunliner. It was cool to get a “discount” on Parts, so I was in and out of the dealer often.


When I began to think about retirement in the fall of 2007, I decided that I needed a project to keep busy until I firmed up a plan for the future. Fords were the cars of choice in my family while growing up in northern Illinois. Further, my wife, Ronna, and I owned several Fords during the 1960s through 1984. The 1955 and 1956 Ford hardtops were two of my favorite cars of the 1950s. During my search of the Internet during the spring of 2008 I found a red and white 1956 Ford two-door hardtop in a dealership located on the Oregon coast.

In May 2005 I purchased a 1955 Crown Victoria, which was already here in Australia but needed a complete rebuild. With the help of my good mate Frank and my son Jayden we were off to pick her up. When I got her home my wife said, “you paid how much for that” as she was looking through the front window. Anne did not even come out the door to look at it. I’m sure there is a lot of you guys who can relate to that comment as I read in an article in the November 2011 issue called “The Road To The Party” that was by Ray Idleman Jr, If anyone hasn’t read his story make sure you go back to this issue and have a read. What a character Ray must be.



It had long been a dream of mine to own a Crown Victoria. On the other hand, my wife Karen, long had a dream of owning a ’57 Chevy Bel Air. Ahhh…a Ford and Chevy lover in the same family – what to do? It took a bit of convincing, but Karen eventually ended up seeing things the Ford way but she had one request – she wanted a seafoam green and white Crown Vic. The search was on in the spring of 2008. When I came across a beautiful tropical rose and snowshoe white Crown Vic on the Indianapolis, IN Craigslist I knew I’d have to convince her that this was the car for us. Luckily, she agreed. I had some long phone conversations with the owner as to its condition as I had previously towed a trailer to North Carolina to buy one of those “great condition,” “no disappointments” Crowns that was a junker in every respect. After I was sure this car was worth a look, we borrowed a trailer and headed for Indiana. I was aware that the body and interior had been restored while leaving the underneath totally un-restored. After a thorough inspection, I could see that the car needed inner quarter & rocker panels as well as repairs to some of the floor supports. Considering the great condition of the paint, chrome and interior, I decided it warranted repairing the undercarriage and we loaded our “new” ’55 Crown Vic on the trailer for its ride to its new home in Pittsburgh, PA.


Like many CVA members, I was the proud owner of a new Fairlane in 1956. I was a college student, working during the summer as a parts driver for Crenshaw Motors Ford in Los Angeles. It was a good job because I got to drive a new Ford pick-up, and when I wasn’t making deliveries, I worked in the shop, sweeping and cleaning. I literally fell in love with the 1956 Fords and was particularly impressed by the Fairlane with the 312 engine.

The summer job ended and I returned to school. With a loan from my dad and the trade in of my 1951 Ford 2-door sedan, I purchased a black and red 2-door Fairlane V8. I enjoyed driving this trouble free car for five years. While it only had 35,000 miles, my folks were so pleased that I was a college graduate that they bought me a 1961 Thunderbird. Unfortunately, I let the 1956 2-door go and have regretted it ever since.


My wife and I enjoy our Fords and wanted to replacement for a 1948 F1 so we could take our grandkids with us when we went to shows. Featured in the enclosed pictures you will find my 1954 Ford Mainline 2-door sedan, this fits the bill. The car was a solid North Caroline car with very little rust. The previous owner had replaced the floor pans and the front clip with a Fat Man clip and then basically stashed it in a trailer for about 10 years. He called it “my car in a box”, as it and many parts that came with it, were all in boxes.

The restoration, customization and paint took me over four years at home in my two-car garage. The only time off from my garage was when it was moved to another two-car garage where the painter worked on it for 16 months! It is painted with PPG paint in “Perfect Purple” with a little pearl and also Chrysler Pearl White with a little pearl. As it is powered by a 1995 Lincoln MK VIII 4.6 V8 with an EAOD transmission, I call it my “Ford-O-Linc.” The rear end is a Currie housing with a Ford 9” 3:40 gear. Though it takes HY-TEST gas, we manage to get better than 24 MPG. It is great for cruising! The grill is stock, my wife and I both think it is the best grill Ford had in the ‘50s. The bumpers are stock and smoothed, my wife and I both think it is the best grill Ford had in the ‘50s. The lake pipes are not functional, but look good and the exhaust is a single 3” pipe, it flows better than the duals. It has PS with title centers. The front seats are Pontiac SSE1 full power and the back seat is Lincoln Town Car back with the original bottom. The car was built to drive, among upcoming shows, we hope to make it to our CVA Regional Meet.

It was finished in March 2011 and in the past year my wife Mary and I have put a little over 3,000 miles on it. She says it’s a far cry from the one she drove as a kid. Since it completion it has won nine awards, of which two were “best paint” and four were “Best of Show”, a couple of ladies choice are in there as well, it seems they love the purple paint!


Retiring after 42 years in banking, I spent most of my time enjoying my antique car hobby. I restore old Fords most of the time and enjoy many of the big car events across the country. I love seeing all the old cars and meeting so many “car people”. There is always great camaraderie among car lovers.

I just completed the restoration of my 1955 Victoria. I did not realize what a different car it is from the Crown Victoria. The roof has a higher top than the 1955 Crown and the 1956 Victoria. Many of the parts relating to glass and doors and rubber seals do not interchange. Some of the parts are difficult to find. I have found that the 1955 Victorias are fairly rare compared to the 1956 Victorias and 1955 and 1956 Crown Victorias.

I bought the car still in pieces from a guy who decided not to do the restoration. Almost all the parts were included with the car. A few missing parts were purchased from Don Stickler.

I finished the car in blue and white. It has a 292 Y-block engine with a 3-speed manual transmission. All the drive train was rebuilt. The body was frame off with all parts repaired or replaced. The car had been undercoated and there was almost no rust.

The car was fitted with a new LeBaron Bonney factory correct interior. It has new Coker wide white Firestone tires. The only deviations from factory are an upgrade to 12 volt with alternator and the radio is converted to modern AM/FM with its original case.