A Work in Progress

Steve DeVito

As far back as I can remember I was fascinated by everything mechanical, especially cars. As a preteen I would gaze from the back seat at just about every car we passed, dreaming of one day owning one.

Dad gave me my first driving lesson at age 12 in his 47 Studebaker, on a dirt road in New Hampshire. Also, that year I began a paper route and during my first month I spotted an old car parked under a tarp in the rear of a customer’s house. It was a 31 Chevy sedan and he said I could have it for $5.00! I was thrilled and more so when Dad said I could buy it. We towed it one-mile home with a rope hitched to Dad's car and I did get it running.

The following year dad bought a 53 Ford and I received more driving lessons, on the same dirt road in New Hampshire.

Time passed, I acquired a 41 Plymouth and a 48 Chevy to play around with but neither stayed around until my 16th birthday. So I had to shop around and found a 55 Ford Mainline within my price range ($400.) Dad let me buy it since I had saved enough to pay for it plus one year’s worth of insurance.

I always had a gas station job until I got married but wasn't always able to work on my cars at the shop. Dad let me keep tools and car parts in his garage and in return I would keep his cars running and keep the garage clean enough to keep a car in it. I worked on quite a few cars there, including my 55 Ford. I used our old swing set and a chain hoist to change 2 engines and jacked cars up on the side of the street near the driveway, used bumper jacks, logs as jack stands. I removed and rebuilt trannys right there on the ground.

When I retired in 2004, those memories led me to buy a sedan like Dad's 53 and I still have it today. Mine however isn't a 4 door 6 banger like his. I’ve got a 2 door with a flathead V-8. Soon after buying the 53, I began to look for a 55 to replicate the first car I owned as a real legal driver. I found a few within my price range but they needed too much work. Sadly, I bought one but after getting it home found the frame rotted in 3 places. That killed my interest and I parted it out.

Finally, in 2015, I found a decent running 55 just 35 miles from me. The car was originally in Florida until the late 70s and considering it's been here in New England for over 30 years, the rot and rust weren't too bad. It is a Fairlane sedan, bit of an upgrade from my Mainline. Now it's a driver, mechanically sound and fun to drive. It is a work in progress and I may never get it completely done. That's OK cause my original 55 was never fully done either, between racing it and denting it a few times.

Now I enjoy my “new” car whenever I can at cruises and car shows. I'm slowly upgrading it to make it safer for longer trips to shows and events. It now has a small block F0RD V-8 with automatic overdrive and will soon have updated suspension and brakes to match.
Always a work in progress, I'll share the final chapter when and if I paint it Lavender top over deep (almost black) plum.

Steve DeVito

 

Mom’s Car 50 years and worth the wait.

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It seems everyone has a story about their ownership of a Ford so here is mine. In 1955 my father’s precision machine shop in Inglewood Ca. was doing well and he purchased a 1955 Ford Mountain Green Sunliner for my mother. He was a “ragtop man” and soon after the 56’s came out my dad purchased a new black Victoria for her and took back the Sunliner; I was 12 years old at that time. As time went on, I learned to drive in the Victoria and use it on dates. My normal way to school was hitching rides or driving a ‘49 pickup that dad had acquired for the shop and I could use for school and my job.

Dad had some pretty strict rules that I followed as I remember all his life. The first was “I was to never ever touch a car window” and the second, when I wanted to borrow moms car on a Saturday night I had to wash his first. This usually meant 2 cars on Saturday afternoon after I got off work; his and moms, as I couldn’t be seen in a dirty car. During my senior year of high school mom sold the Victoria and bought an Oldsmobile and the ‘55 Sunliner stayed in the family until 1964. I told myself someday I’d have a ‘56 Victoria.

Major things change our families lives and in late 1963 my dad past away in an accident. He had acquired many things which I could not keep but what I did I have cherished all my life. The main item for me was his 1939 Indian Sport Scout motorcycle which he had purchased in 1943.

Over the years I watched over my mother who never remarried; she lived to the wonderful age of 95 and died in June of 2011. During this time I married, had 2 children, and 5 grandchildren to boot and very understanding wife of so far 49 years. She tolerated me being a “car guy/gear head” as I could fix just about anything. She watch me drag race and pushed me off on the Bonneville Salt Flats until our son took over. She is in the infield to watch our son’s ½ mile dirt Super Stock car at Perris Auto Speedway scraping mud after wheel packing. Everyone should be so lucky. Read more: Mom’s Car 50 years and worth the wait.

 

My Happy Car

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The story begins. The doctor’s wife said - get that old car out of the garage so I can put my new car in the garage. The doctor had the old car towed over to Top Line Performance in Huntington Beach California, because the fuel pump was not working. My friend Mario called me and said, “I have a car at my shop that you may be interested in, and it is for sale.” I called the doctor and after checking with the wife, he bought the car. (Cash only) I paid for the fuel and have been driving the car for the last 10 years with no problems.

I was made aware of the Crown Victoria Association by a friend, Lon Argent, from Australia who visits our shop in Huntington Beach, CA. The 55 ford convertible is a daily driver. I go to Dukes restaurant on the pier every Thursday with my friends Ed and Morie. We have been doing this for 10 years. The top works great, but has only been up twice, as in sunny California we don't need to put the top up. I have changed it to 12 volt, added power brakes, and power steering. The chrome is not perfect and has some chips and fading in the paint, but it still goes to the local car shows. Everybody loves the color and styling, as it reminds them of the good old days in the 50's. I won my first award on April 25th, 2015 at the 28th Annual Seal Beach car show, for Best Original Tri Five.

You can't be anything but Happy, when you are driving a 55 Ford Convertible in California

Submitted by: Troy Stephens

 

 

Mayola's 1955 Crown Victoria

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About 1-1/2 years ago, a friends of mine took me to a dealer in Huntington Maryland. He knew I was looking for a 1955 Crown Victoria. The car was from Mount Jullet, Tennessee.

The car looked really nice. I took the dealers word that the car was in perfect condition. When he brought the car to my house on a roll back that is when I started out to check out the car and got a big surprise. I took about $5,000 to get the car in perfect shape, like I wanted.

In 2008 the car was completely restored off of the frame.

John & Shirley Mayola

 

 

Thomas' Miss Vicky

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It was 1961 and was just out of high school and I was ready to enter college which meant that I should start looking for my first car. My brother found a 56 Ford he thought I should go drive on a dealer lot just nine miles away in Sturgis, KY. What a find it was, 1956 Victoria two door hard top in Sunset coral and Black, 292 CI, water cooled automatic.

I was driving it when I met Kay in college. Kay and I were married in the spring of 1965 and in 2015 we celebrated our 50th anniversary That Vicky served me well until I traded if for a new car the day John Kennedy was killed.

Twenty years later, we still talked about how nice it would be to have another one. It was a real hot day in August of 1985 when I put an ad in the Prairie Farmer Magazine (Indiana Publication) looking for a 1956 Ford Victoria. We were living in Valparaiso, IN at the time. A truck driver from Ladoga IN called and said his 56 matched what I was looking for. Three days later, I drove it home and started the restoration process. I found a body shop owner operator that was willing to work on the Vicky in the evenings when I had time to work with him. He told me he was a crash rebuilder, but he was sure he could make the Vicky straight and fit properly and give it a paint job that would stand out for years and I was welcome to work with him even though I had very little knowledge of body work at the time. Over a four month period he and I were able to rebuild the body and he was able to paint it just a month before John Deere Company (my employer for 31 years) transferred me to PA.

Read more: Thomas' Miss Vicky
 

Memories - Kutz 1955 Ford Fairlane Club Sedan

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When I was 16, my Dad bought me my first car, a 1955 Ford Custom Line Tudor for $200. I believe the year was 1963. The body needed work done to it, especially the rocker panels. So my Dad and I started working on it. Since we had to paint the car anyway, I took off the hood ornaments and scripts (Dad didn't object) and then broke out the J C Whitney catalog. From the catalog I purchased a tube grill, fender mirrors, full moon hub-caps, and adapter kit to put Oldsmobile bullet tail lights on the car (Dad didn't object).

Then one day I came home from school told my Dad someone at school is willing to trade his manual transmission for my automatic transmission, then I would have a three speed on the floor. (Dad objected I) Dad sat me down and explained, "When he started driving he shifted on the floor. Then they made It easier by shifting on the column. Then came the Cat's Nuts (Dad's way of saying really good I). You shift the pointer to R and go backwards, then shift the pointer to D and goes forward. And you dumb SOB you are going right back to the beginning." So I explained NO ONE wants a slush box, and a floor shift Is COOLI Well it worked, and Dad had let me use the garage. Some of my high school buddies came up to help me switch the transmissions. My Dad had a good friend that was a Ford mechanic and asked him to help us, and he did.

Truth be told, I never even got under the car during the switch. When they were finished I was one happy camper! Shortly after the switch, there was a problem. When trying to shift sometimes the transmission would lock up in first gear. I would then have to crawl under the car to pry the linkage to unlock (rain, sleet, snow and hail).

My best friend's Dad had a gas station/garage. I dropped my car off for state inspection while I was In school. When his Dad took it for a test drive it stuck for him too. He bent and adjusted the linkage and the problem was solved. Read more: Memories - Kutz 1955 Ford Fairlane Club Sedan

 

From Wild Custom to Stock: Placek's 1955 Sunliner

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The golf cart shown with our redone 1955 Sunliner was built in 1990 by Bob Haas in 1995. He sold it to a gent in Florida, and I traded my 1955 Ford with two front ends to the gent for the Club Car 1955 golf cart. It looks cool in the front of the 1955 Fairlane Sunliner that we just restored from a wild custom to stock.

This story really began in 1962, when at age 17, I bought a 1955 four-door Customline for $450. I worked off part of the money for 25 cent an hour at my family’s A & W Root Beer Drive-in in Sanford, FL. That car carried me 100,000 miles to Seminole High School, Orland Junior College, and Florida State University. Sold in 1968 for $165, I still miss it.

Over the years, I owned parts and cheap project cars. Then in 1999, I bought a rough-running, highly-customized 1955 Sunliner with a fair on a Sunliner was $2,224 and 49,966 were produced (far more than 1,999 Glasstops made in 1955). In 2000, another $2,500 worth of work for new intake, carb, exhaust, and wiring, and the car ran well. In January 2003, it was a Fomoco Times cover story. Yeah! It ran well until 2014. Then I undertook a cosmetic restoration to stock. It has a good-running Y-block 292 and 3-speed stick with overdrive, so little mechanical work was needed.Fortunately, the Sunliner had been heavily customized in 1958. I say “fortunately” for three reasons. First, the car would be driven very little, mainly to shows. The 85,570 odometer miles might be original. Second, the car would be kept inside, protecting it from the elements. Third, the car would be driven at least a couple of hundred miles per year, keeping the gas fresh and brake lines clean.

Read more: From Wild Custom to Stock: Placek's 1955 Sunliner
 

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