It's not Victor, but the same model. Ford Victoria. It all started when I was 17 years old. In my senior year in high school in Napa, California. The high school football player who was my friend came to school one day with a yellow and white Victoria 1956. It was in 1961 when all of this happened. The car was five years old, and his parents gave it to him as a graduation present. It was a HOT summer day, and all the windows were down, and it was in pristine condition. I said to him, what a beautiful car. I did not have a car as my dad would not let me buy one even though I had worked as a kid and had saved $4,000. That was a lot of money back then. I could not buy a car as it was in a savings account and required both signatures to release the money. To say the least I was not happy.
To continue, I said to him “what a pretty two door hardtop” and he reached in and opened the door from the inside rear door and I almost fell over. He had welded off the rear door handles. Back then, as you all know, four door cars were not cool. I have never forgotten that day and I am 79 now.
I have had many cars, at some time I had a 1955 Chevrolet convertible, all stock restored, a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, a 1957 Bel Air, both who had four-speed 350 CC's. Both 1957 Chevrolet's were custom and even an edged two door. I have owned many cars - both drivers and collectors. I never bought my dream car, a 1956 Ford Victoria four door hardtop, as guys do not like four door cars. Well, at 79 years of age and have not had an old car for 12 years now, I present you with my dream car.
I know a lot of you will be disappointed in what I did to a nice 1956 Vicki, but this is my last car. It was really rough when I bought it.
I contracted a body shop in Eureka California. Where I now live and gave them an open ticket to do what I wanted. $6,200 later, I now have my dream. Tom, at California Body Shop in Eureka, California, did all the work. He cut up a 1954 Chevrolet grill and installed it, a great piece of work and very time consuming, molded rear handles, installed a 1955 Mercury taillight, and installed rear air shocker. Bought American Ford truck wheels, chromed all inside window and door moldings.
I had the car shipped from Connecticut for $2,400. When it arrived in that large truck, I fell in love with it. Overall, I have too much money in it, but it is my “DREAM CAR”, so I am finally happy. My folks had a Ford 1956 four door post. I hated that it had the pillar between the doors. Well, I am not much at writing about anything, but you presently encouraged me to write and send pictures of my car.
I hope all enjoy and for you purist stock fans, I am so very sorry that I did what I did but remember one thing it is my dream car, so be it. Enjoy yours as I am enjoying mine. The transmission and a 292 are stock and in great condition.
The 1956 Ford Victorias are so overloaded as the Chevrolet pulled back them as they do now.
William and Gwen Carlson
Is it love or obsession? Whatever, it began 55 years ago when at the age of 15, Hoppy bought his first 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible from his friend Joe Smoot for $100. This was his everyday driver car, which was a Snowshoe White exterior with Mountain Green and White interior. This car was driven for quite a few years until the “kids” messed it up.
If you know anything about Hoppy, back in the day, there was always swapping and trading of vehicles and engines; sometimes on the same day you bought one, and this happened on more than one occasion among friends.
About two to three months after the first 1955 purchase, Hoppy picked up a 1955 Ford Steel Top Crown, again for the bargain price of $100 at a junk yard. Another daily driver car that had exterior colors of Tropical Rose and Snowshoe White. Hoppy drove this one until he finally sold it and bought his favorite car.
Yes, everyone knows, Hoppy’s favorite car ever purchased in 1971 is his 1955 Ford Crown Victoria Glasstop with exterior of Torch Red and Snowshoe White. This purchase was made from a Volkswagen dealership in MD for $295, and became a daily driver for him and Kathy. (We will do another story on this beauty later and the 2 restorations and final full frame- off restoration)
Finally, after several 1955 convertibles in Hoppy’s possession, Hoppy and Bill Lindsey made a trade, and a 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible came to Locust Grove, VA in 1992. More on this in a minute…
Also, in 1992 Hoppy made another purchase, and his Nationally known 1956 Ford Fairlane (aka “Just For Kix” or “Snake Car”) Yellow Pro Street Car was purchased and restoration completed in 1993. (This may also be another story later.)
Meanwhile back to the convertible purchase from Bill. In 1998, a full frame-off restoration began. The car did not go to the body shop until the end of January 1999. Some of the CVA attendees at the June 1999 All Ford Carlisle PA show were looking at some of the photos of the restoration process and inquired if the car would be ready for the 2000 CVA Convention. Hoppy’s response was “No”, “it would be at the 1999 Convention”.
Even with the busy time for Hoppy’s excavating business, it was literally finished with final parts assembled the night before leaving, and washed the morning of leaving and driving to the August 1999 CVA National Convention in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. I believe that is how all restorations, assemblies, and completions must be with these Ford guys!
The pink and black beauty is a 1955 Ford Sunliner Convertible with exterior colors of Coral Mist and Raven Black, and interior to match, and is an attraction gatherer especially among the ladies, prom attendees, and car cruise-in attendees. She is pretty underneath with her Coral Mist underbody and black frame. Top up or top down, she has seen heads turn at her beauty. She definitely attracted Hoppy’s 2nd love, Tonda, as a photo of him and Amber, the oldest granddaughter, was the first photo of Hoppy that Tonda ever saw of him. (That is another story you will have to ask about!)
Of course, driving all of the collection of 1955’s, 56, 63, 64, 65, and 66 are fun, but Hoppy’s true love will always be his 1995 Ford’s.
Today, you will find us enjoying life in a Ford somewhere; be on the lookout near you!
Hoppy & Tonda Hopkins
Submitted by Jay Baptista, Lynn, MA
Frank Sinatra had a hit song “The Second Time Around” that describes my two restorations. The first cost $77,419. The second cost over $20,000. Now the car runs great, after the second time around. BUT - I have $100,000 invested and I thought it would only cost $40,000. Silly me. Now the story.
One of my long-time desires was to possess a 1956 Ford frame-off restoration vehicle. My employer had one and I always thought it was soooooo cool. On Columbus Day weekend, 2006, I purchased a clapped out four-door Victoria hardtop for $4,500. With a highly recommended restorer, a 401K ready to bleed, I was aching to take the plunge.
Before reading any further, have a large Mango Pineapple Vodka over Sprite. If you don’t like vodka, go for a six-pack of beer. Then read about what I got for the first part of a $77,000 frame-off restoration.
The car was “finished” in 4 1/2 years. The pick-up date was June 5, 2011. The key was turned. Nothing! Dead battery! It needed a lightning bolt strength charge to be administrated just to get the starter to groan. Once the car was running, it moved very sluggishly outside of the garage. It was a 200-mile ride home. The transmission was slipping but slowly got into driving mode. Smoke poured out of the breather pipe all the way home, using up 1 1/2 quarts of oil. The first engine, a 312,went 724 miles and then was junk. One week or so later, the radiator burst and was unless. Then leaky wheel cylinders followed. Little did I realize that this was just the beginning of more nightmares to come!
Another four years has been spent replacing old parts not replaced or just trying to get things to work. On this list were items like door locks you could not lock, defective tie rod end, missing number plate bracket bumpers, faulty electronic ignition, large space between quarter panel and trunk, improper line-up of seat upholstery, faulty seat track, rear window which had both worn and bent parts to prevent it from being rolled up properly, radio static clip installed upside down, vent window push locks broken, missing pieces for window washer, tube missing and more.
The initial shake down trip was to the CVA Convention in Huron, Ohio. After passing Springfield, MA, very intense and heavy downpours were encountered. Guess what? No wipers! I could only get 1/2 sweep across the glass at a slow creep. Water poured through the windshield on the passenger side filling my shoes with water and drenching the floor. Due to the deluge, a couple of big rigs ran off the interstate onto their sides. I thought it was going to be the end. Boy, did I pray to St. Anthony (the Patron Saint of lost items). “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, come on down. What is lost, let it be found”. (What was lost was my mind)! Fortunately, he answered my stress calls and got me out with my sanity.
How much did this little prize cost to be completely refurbished? The total for the first round was $77,419.36. Auntie’s inheritance is gone. Well sort of! I just have to look outside in the driveway every day. Then the day becomes bright and happy.
Better days certainly are ahead. Since then, the engine, transmission and radiator have all been replaced along with everything mentioned above. I had the second 312 installed in 2012 and it has gone over 7,000 miles without a hiccup. Yes, we are finally getting everything functioning properly but continue to find new defects now and then. So, the latest one-half restoration including the other aforementioned repairs cost over $20,000. This car has actually had 1 1/2 frame off restorations at this point and “I’m Broke!” However, now she runs so well!!
I have been to eleven National CVA Conventions, and lately have helped there with nighttime parking lot security and daytime parking. have driven this car to Huron and Dayton National CVA Conventions. In 2015, I placed second in the judged class. Of the over 100 cars in Dayton, there was only one other four-door Victoria-so they are rare. I have also won three trophies at local car shows.
In summary, I have learned that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (but sometimes it is the headlight of an oncoming train). I have learned that it is cheaper to buy a completed car than to have one built, especially if you don’t know beans about auto mechanics. I learned to be thankful for real help and expertise, including Paradise Citgo Swampscott, MA; Webb Electric of Danvers, MA; Tee-Bird Products; and many others for their “second time around” help. Like my last name, ”Baptista”, I have been baptized in old oil, shot bearings and loose wires.
Yet I have saved a piece of 1950’s Ford history. For that I have earned a throne in Ford heaven. I just hope old Henry will give me the proper respect. I also ask for a pat on the back from other Ford lovers, and two pats if you have had the same tribulations as I have had.
Submitted by: Al Rahn, Rocky Ford, Georgia
Victor came off the Louisville, Ky. assembly line on July 30, 1956. He was a proud platinum gray and colonial white on the exterior. His interior was Ford’s attempt in the summer of 1956 to attract younger buyers. It had a BX interior that was introduced in May. It had pink, black, and white door panels, with a coral mosaic cloth and vinyl seat cover. The four-door hardtop was considered a sport family vehicle by many at that time and was Ford’s first year with that model. They made 32,111 of them, but very few with the color combination that Victor had. He thought he was special.
Victor was ordered with the 312 cu. In. engine and Fordomatic. The only power option he had was power steering. Victor had no radio and no back up lights but did have the “Magic Aire” heater. He did not even have fender skirts; they were for girls.
How long Victor roamed the highways I do not know. But, at some point in time, he was bought by a lady who really loved PINK. (Maybe she worked for Mary K). Anyway, she painted the Victoria a sunset coral and colonial white. She also re-covered the seats with a pink brocade upholstery fabric. She was pretty and was now Miss Vicky.
Fast forward a lot of years to May 2016, when I saw her picture for sale on E-Bay. I downloaded all her pictures, including the data plate. When I saw that the original color was gray and white, I knew there was potential for a new life. Could that car be restored to its former glory? I wanted to know.
After coming to an agreement on price with the man who was selling the car for Pink Lady, my wife, Jane. and I loaded up the 2002 Ford F-150 and set out. We left Southeast Georgia and headed to Atchison, Kansas. Although the car was not running, I saw the potential and closed the deal. We rented a tow dolly and headed back to Georgia.
I spent a lot of time and effort cleaning her up before I took her to a mechanic friend, Ray Lariscy, who brought her back to life. I had back up lights installed at this time. Although she was running and pretty in pink, I still wanted to restore the car back to original with a few more improvements and upgrades.
At this point I totally stripped her down on the inside and took her to another friend to do the paint and body work. He said he could do it in his spare time at his paint/body shop. I ordered all the panels and parts he said it would need. Unfortunately, he never had any spare time.
Submitted by Phil Meek
For many years (decades?), I have wanted to drive the “Mother Road”, the Historic Route 66, from its westbound beginning in downtown Chicago to its terminus at the Santa Monica Pier in California. Established on November 11, 1926, Route 66 traverses eight states and over 2,400 miles. US Route 66, the subject of many books and magazine articles, a very popular song and even a television series in the 1950s-60s, was officially deleted from the US Highway system in 1985 after the mostly parallel interstate highway system was completed.
This past September, my brother, Gary, who owns two Studebakers, was going to attend the International Studebaker Drivers Club Conference in Indianapolis. Since Indianapolis is only a few hundred miles from Chicago, I approached Gary about heading north to Chicago after the Studebaker Conference, turning left at the beginning point of Route 66 Westbound, and heading to Oklahoma City for Part 1 of the long drive to California.
Gary was game! I started planning for the approximately 850 mile run from Chicago to Oklahoma City, purchasing 5-6 travel books and some maps specifically on Route 66. Why so many books? Because each book is different and often had gems that were not included in the other books, especially suggestions for iconic places to stop and visit, currently operating old restaurants and motor courts, business hours of establishments, historical information, different maps, etc.
I’m not going to dwell on the books, which I leave for your reading pleasure, except for some “lessons learned” on which books may assist you in your planning if you decide to drive Route 66. Specifically, a few of the books included hand-drawn maps of the local roads ahead. These informal maps proved invaluable because of the additional small detail provided, sometimes at variance with the published maps. However, the hand-drawn maps and the books themselves were not always accurate in providing directions, perhaps due to changes in the highway designations, current road construction and detours since the books were published. Keep alert!
Two popular books are: “Route US 66: Traveler’s Guide and Roadside Companion”, by Tom Snyder, and “EZ66: Route 66 Guide for Travelers”, 4th Ed., by Jerry McClanahan. But there are many more publications to consider. Don’t hesitate to highlight the books with your own notes about the various sites to be visited in days ahead, along with comments about sites you have visited, accuracy of the books relied upon, and corrections to the books and maps.
The internet is a wonderful source of detailed information for a Route 66 journey. Check out a super website, www.Route66RoadTrip.com, which includes satellite views of the Route 66 highway from Chicago to Santa Monica, with Route 66 highway markings as an overlay to the satellite photos. You can see exactly how Route 66 tracks the nearby interstate highways. The satellite photos also reflect information on hotels, restaurants, gas stations, sights to see, etc. Wikipedia has a very good, detailed 23-page history of Route 66 with photos.
Leaving Chicago: By far the most challenging part of the trip was the first day of the journey driving across Chicago. After paying a $40 parking fee for the privilege of parking 30 minutes in downtown Chicago to visit the Route 66 beginning /termination sign, we headed west. Trying to identify Route 66 highway signs on busy Chicago streets in heavy traffic, and changing directions on many streets through commercial and residential areas according to the directions in the books, was quite challenging. This is where a navigator becomes helpful, if not critical, in advising the driver in advance to be on the lookout for certain roads, signs or landmarks, and counting stoplights for turns. Especially while driving in city traffic, the navigator in the passenger seat often has a better view of Route 66 signs ahead than the driver, who is focused on driving safely.
Even with both Gary and me looking for the Route 66 signs on the long trek through Chicago, we missed a couple of them and had to either backtrack to the missed sign or identify alternate directions to rejoin Route 66. Several times after making turns, we would drive a mile or so before picking up the confirming Route 66 signs - - or not! It was much easier identifying the road signs when we got into the rural areas of Chicago and into the Illinois countryside.
Transiting St Louis, MO, on Historic Route 66 posed similar issues as Chicago as it took almost two hours to transit St Louis, rather than taking faster interstate highways around the city. Remaining on the old Route 66 through the big cities can add hours to your driving time for the day. Include that in your planning for places to stop for the night.
Another quirk about driving the Historic Route 66 is that there are often up to three variations of Historic Route 66 signs at an intersection, depending upon which “alignment” and certain specific years of travel on Route 66 to follow, e.g., 1930-1940, 1935-1945, etc. As towns and cities grew, and with improvements in highway engineering over the years, the designation of the roads identified as Route 66 changed through those areas. Even in rural areas, we found several alignments that changed over the years. Most of these multiple variations of Route 66 are not indicated in the travel books and signs pop up without notice on the highway. You have to make quick decisions as to which sign to follow. The good news is that generally any of the alternate routes will bring you back to the prevailing Route 66 down the road to continue your journey.
As for the driving experience of traveling Route 66, for me it took time to adjust to the old highway coursing over narrow, two lane, twisty roads at relatively slow speeds, 55 mph-65 mph for the most part. I’m used to fast traveling on interstate highways designed to get from point A to point B in the shortest period of time. By the second day, however, I was enjoying the more intimate driving experience on Route 66 that brought back many fond memories of family vacations in my youth when my dad was driving on these and similar narrow highways. Dad, mom, four kids, our Doberman Pincher and luggage were crammed into the station wagon. Many times, we drove through the night with snow, heavy thunderstorms, lightning and thunder (us kids loved it!). I remember how difficult it was to pass cars, especially through hilly and mountainous regions, or at night, and traffic would back up. Travel in the 1940s-1960s, before the interstate highway system was downright dangerous in retrospect.
Late September was a nice time to travel on Route 66. The weather was sunny and warm, and we had no rain. Driving through the countryside, the fields with hundreds of acres of crops on either side ready for harvest, or just after the harvest, came down to the ditches along the edges of the roadway. You could almost touch the fields they were so close. The Victorian farmhouses, the old barns and outbuildings, were much closer to Route 66 than those hundreds of yards, sometimes miles, away on the interstate road system. For anyone who likes the stately Victorian mansions of years past, following Route 66 through the towns and larger cities was a real treat. Many of the city streets were lined with stately restored mansions in the full variety of architecture and vibrant colors characteristic of the Victorian Era.
Along the way were many excellent Route 66 Visitor Centers and museums. In particular, Pontiac, IL, has an exceptional Route 66 museum, with several floors of photos, exhibits and memorabilia. Many colorful city murals adorn the buildings near the museum. The staffs at these museums were very familiar with the history of Route 66 in the local area, as well as highway directions. The gift shops at the museums, as well as the motor courts, restaurants, etc., were also very nice.
Stopping at historic eateries or small local restaurants around the town squares with the old timers was quite enjoyable, although their operating hours varied considerably. We were disappointed that some of the famous restaurants were closed when we arrived. Checking their operating hours online may be a good idea.
Another recommendation is to visit with other fellow travelers on Route 66, especially those who are coming from the opposite direction. Ask for traveler tips as to places to visit (or not visit), exchange information about incorrect directions given in the travel books, highway conditions, etc.
We stopped one night in Lebanon, MO, at the famous Munger Moss Motel, founded in 1946. It is well worth staying at the motel just to see the huge completely restored neon sign at night welcoming visitors. It also has a very nice gift shop. Can’t miss it. The delightful owner, Ramona Munger, regaled us with many stories of travelers on Route 66 since she and her husband purchased the motel in 1971. She was celebrating her 50th Anniversary owning and operating the motel, which she does by herself and one handyman.
Ramona informed us that travel by modern cars is the rule, and that she rarely sees classic cars traveling on Route 66 or staying overnight at the old motel. Very disappointing, but we found that to be the case. During the entire trip we only saw a single American classic car, a Model A custom hot rod roadster, driving Route 66 in Oklahoma.
On our last day on the road, we had breakfast at the famous Rock Inn, Stroud, OK, featured in the movie “Cars” and operating continuously since 1939. We also chatted up about 15 members of the British Triumph Auto Club from Edmund, OK, who drove their beautiful classic Triumphs to the Rock Inn for breakfast. From the Rock Inn, we pressed on to Oklahoma City, completing the first part of our journey on Route 66.
The traffic on Route 66 from Chicago to Oklahoma City was very light, probably because the interstate highways were generally within sight of Route 66 and carried the vast bulk of the East-West traffic. We never had a traffic backup on Route 66. During the entire 850 mile trip we only drove 25 miles on an interstate highway, and that was due to an error in a hand-written map in a book that we were following. The rest of the trip was on Route 66, although in many places the original road was replaced with newer road surfaces bearing the Route 66 signs.
It was a great trip, a step back in time, and the slower pace of driving was very enjoyable. Hopefully, Gary and I will finish Part 2 of our journey on Route 66 from Oklahoma City to the Santa Monica Pier in 2022. That trip will be longer and much more challenging.
Submitted by Travis B. Sheaffer, FoMoCo Times Editor
Just a week before the Lower Midwest Regional Meet, Upper Northeast Regional Director Jim Rock held his fall Regional Meet. On Wednesday, September 15th I put the ‘Do Not Disturb” sign on my office door and snuck out of the office to drive to Detroit to the airport. I arrive at Logan Airport in Boston a little after 8:00pm. I went to hail a cab and the cabbies that I had the opportunity to ride with were the scariest, most mobbed up guys in greater Beantown. It was Jim Rock and Jay Baptista! We made the short trip to their house and sampled some of the local wines.
On Thursday morning, I made a pilgrimage to the Dunkin Donuts down the block. Since we didn’t have any club activities planned for that day, Jim and I decided to take an adventure out to Spectacle Island in the middle of Massachusetts Bay. To start the adventure, we took the train to Boston Harbor. Once we got there, we boarded a ferry for the 30-minute ride out to Spectacle Island. The water was smooth, and the sights were awesome.
Spectacle Island used to be where the City of Boston deposited their trash. It was originally two islands. Several decades ago, the city and a bunch of volunteers cleaned up the island and made it into a nature preserve. Now both of the two original islands are one. Around the edge of the island was a couple of mile walking path where you could observe the foliage and get different views of the Bay. Jim and I spent a couple of hours walking around the island. We made it back to the dock in time for the last Ferry of the day to depart. We safely made it back to shore and took the train back to Lynn, Massachusetts.
Submitted by: Travis Sheaffer, FoMoCo Times Editor
I have never been to Kansas before. I have not been able to cross the state off my list of states that I have Geocached in. That was about to change. At the National Convention it Des Moines, Iowa this past summer, Regional Director Don Robertson whispered into President Toby Gorny’s ear that it sure would be nice if someone (me!) would show up and visit his regional meet in September. Always the adventurer, I saddled up and hopped a flight to Kansas City on September 23rd. Upon arrival I gathered my horse (in this case a Toyota) and began the four-hour trek to Manhattan, Kansas.
The landscape was beautiful and the campus in Manhattan informed me that there was a lot of smart people doing smart things in Kansas. I arrived at the hotel at dinner time, and I received a warm greeting by Ronna Robertson. She gave me the lowdown on the area and told me who the troublemakers were (you know I am talking about you, Carl!). I got settled and headed down to the Fiesta Buffett. At dinner, I saw my good friend Norbert Doll, as well as Curtis and Linda Johnson. Side note ~ If you haven’t met Linda, she is one of the nicest persons that I have ever met. It was at this point that I learned that Carl Cox was not the only person I needed to watch out for. I also needed to keep my eye on Jenny Lou Gattis. Whenever I attend a regional meet, I like to look for the people that are onery (like I am) and have fun with them. I had a lot of fun with the two of them. I really look forward to seeing them at future CVA events.
Friday was an action-packed day. We caravanned a short distance to the town of Wamego, which features the Wizard of Oz Museum. This town even had a yellow brick road! We toured the Wizard of Oz Museum as well as the Columbian Theatre and the Wamego Historical Museum. In the afternoon, we visited the Dream Car Collection Museum and it certainly lived up to its name. The assortment of cars in this building would have any car enthusiast drooling. I had to keep an eye on Norbert to make sure he didn’t drive off in one of the cars. Or maybe it was the other way around?
Saturday was another busy day. We drove over to Junction City and toured Ron’s Automotive. Ron had quite a collection of automobile and airplane memorabilia. One of the really neat things at his place was his display of the life and death of Jesus. Set on the backdrop of a hillside the path led to different scenes from the birth to the resurrection. It was powerful. We then toured the Geary County Historical Museum and the Starke House. I got back to the hotel just in time to see my Bowling Green State University Falcons beat the Minnesota Golden Gophers in football. What a great day!
To cap the event off we had our banquet on Saturday evening. The food and the company were fantastic. Jenny Lou even persuaded me to wear her tiara.
Sunday morning, I saddled up and made the trek back to Kansas City to catch a flight to Detroit where I picked up my car. This was a fantastic regional meet. If you ever get the chance to attend a Lower Midwest Regional Meet, I highly encourage it. The members that attended were awesome and I look forward to hopefully seeing many of them in Memphis this next summer at the National Convention.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was published in the July 2021 issue of the Skyliner, which is the official newsletter of the International Retractable Club and pays a tribute to Crown Victoria Association Co-Founder Toby Gorny.
Toby Gorny from Bryan, Ohio, gives us something to strive for that we will never be able to accomplish in the same way.
The IFRC is celebrating its Fiftieth Anniversary, and Toby has been a member since the Club's inception. You and I can continue to be members or even long-term members, but we cannot go back in time. We may even celebrate fifty years as a Club member, but it will not be on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Club. Toby is the only one who attends each annual convention since 1971.
John Bobo is credited with starting the IFRC, but Toby has been involved every step of the way. Therefore, this issue of the Skyliner highlights Toby. Kind words from friends, short notes from customers both new and old, and thoughts of fellow members expressing the impact Toby has had on them.
I hope that for the IFRC Seventy-Fifth Anniversary that 1he Skyliner is dedicated to Toby Gorny. I hope that recognition is because he continues to attend each IFRC Annual Convention for the next twenty-five years!
As one of the founding members of the IFRC, Toby needs to be commended for his faithfulness over the last fifty years. How many of you have been involved with something for that amount of time? The vast majority of us have had conversations with Toby and purchased a few parts from him over the years. Some IFRC members have purchased a lot more parts than others.
It has always been a joy to see him at the conventions and to witness his continued involvement. Because I don't have a showcase retractable, my purchasing of parts has been limited, but Toby has always been there to assist me. So. In closing, I would like to say "Toby, hang around for many more years because the IFRC needs you!"
When I was done finding every car I could, I showed my list to Ron and asked him for help. He looked over the list and saw Toby Gorny's name listed as Showcase car number 15. He said he would ask him. He looked up his phone number in the IFRC roster and gave him a call.
He explained to Toby what I was trying to do and asked if he happened to have a photo of his Skyliner that received the Showcase award in 1979 from the convention that was in St. Louis, Missouri. Toby said he did, but he was not sure where it was. Ron asked that if he came across it would he please mail, email, or text us a copy so that we could put it in the Showcase book?
Toby said, "Sure, I can do that, but it might be easier if l just backed the car out of the garage and take a picture of it.” What, that was a shock, after all this time, he still had the Skyliner? Toby said yes, he still has it, and it brings back a lot of great memories for him.
After some research, we discovered that not only is Toby Gorny the oldest IFRC member who still comes to conventions, but he holds another IFRC record that people don't realize. His Skyliner is the oldest Showcase award winner that is still owned by the person who originally won the award.
To be fair, there are five other Skyliners that became Showcase before Toby's, which I cannot find. They could possibly beat or tie his record. But as of right now, way to go Toby, forty-two years and counting.
Toby (actually David, though most who know him, don't know that) has always been a selfless individual. Linda and I spent a moment yesterday trying to remember exactly how the relationship began and decided it was probably around the Charlotte show in 1992 when we first attended as car owners and as customers of the Ford Reproduction Parts Store. But it grew somehow, and we would always look him up when we were at one of the Carlisle shows, at Hershey, and of course, at the IFRC conventions. Often Toby would hand me his cell phone and tell me to say hello, and it would be Sandy, and we could catch up for a moment.
Over the years, I witnessed the selflessness he lived by. One year Ron Brenton had an old original IFRC medallion that he was looking to sell. Toby suggests to Ron, "I think Linda Huggins would love having that. She seems to love that older memorabilia.” It currently resides on our 58s grill. Another year someone dropped off an Upholstery manual and a 1958 showroom book, "The Ford Story” describing the Showroom differences from the Ford vs Chevy battle. "Jerry, take a look at these; I saved them for you as I know you enjoy collecting this stuff.” They were priced about 25% off the eBay asking price. The two books still live here. Another eBay purchase of mine ended up with me having about 10 NOS '58 hood scoop gaskets. I took them to Toby to have them authenticated, and as I purchased them for almost nothing, asked if he wanted to have them to sell. "No, you hold onto them. I can't get them anymore, and if anyone should inquire about them, I will direct them to you.” In all of these situations, I am sure he could have made some additional money, but that just was not his style.
Toby in a tug-of-war with Bill Abates over a hubcap!
However, my favorite memory of Toby is regarding the acquisition of a 1968 Mustang that had been modified by Carroll Shelby, a GT500. In 1968 when I was only twenty, my 1963 Ford XL had (back then) an unthinkable 100,000 miles on it. I was working away from home at the time, and Genest Ford in Manchester, New Hampshire, had a Candy Apple Red GT500 on their showroom floor. Test drives to 20-yearolds were not permitted at the time, but I just knew this car was made for me. So, I got a price for the deal but ran into a roadblock with the Telephone Credit Union. Back then, prior to your twenty-first birthday, you needed a parental signature to obtain financing. My well-meaning father decided at my age I didn't require a sports car, so the deal could not be completed. So, I ended up with an XL, same color, and a fine car but not the Shelby. Fast forward to 30 or so years, and I was visiting Toby at the FRPS trailer in Carlisle. Posted near the service window was a picture of a 1968 Shelby with the infamous phrase: "For Sale.” I didn't know about Shelby numbers at the time, so I don't know if it was the same car, but if it wasn't, it was an exact copy. Color, stripes, wheels, etc.
We chatted about the car for about a moment.... he actually gave me his floor price, and away I went. I laid awake most of the night thinking about it. In the morning, I began to piece together the financing in my mind. Maybe if I reduced Linda's weekly allowance for a few weeks, moved a few dollars out of this account and over there ... and the car guys out there all know what I mean. At the breakfast buffet, I explained my plan to Linda, who surprisingly just shrugged her shoulders gently and with a "if that's what you want" approved the deal. It was also the end of the Carlisle show, and when we arrived, Toby was hooked up and leaving. I stopped him, and in thirty seconds, we had made a deal, including the financing.
A couple of weeks later, we were in Bryan, Ohio, at the Ford Parts Store. We were guests of the Gorny's for the night. We went out to eat in their 56 Parklane wagon and visited the print shop where we were gifted with a typeset box. It hangs on our dining room wall at this moment mostly full of little trinkets from our travels. But now for the best part of this story: When the car was loaded, I received a Bill of Sale and the title for the Shelby. But there was nowhere in writing that the sale had a balance due. "Toby, if Linda and I don't make it back to Massachusetts for some reason, when you visit our children to get the balance, they will have no idea who you are or why you expect thousands from our estate.” Yes, he trusted me to that level. After we discussed my apprehensions, we took a yellow legal pad and scribbled a few sentences regarding the agreement.
I have owned 34 Fords over the years, along with some GM's, Chryslers, and a couple of foreign cars; but I have never felt so trusted and just plain good about a car deal. And there will never be a day anyone will be safe from disputing that Toby was one of the good guys in the hobby, in life, and as a family man. I am thrilled to have these memories of Toby. There should be a little more Toby in all of us.
Linda and I look forward to seeing you all, including Toby (and hopefully Sandy), in Strongsville this July.
I met Toby Gorny at the Rod and Custom Show in December 1973 at the Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne where he was showing his 1959. I had just purchased my first Retractable (a very rusty 1959) in June 1973 in Maumee, Ohio. I asked him if there was a club for these cars, and he gave me the contact information for John Bobo. I joined the club in early 1974. I still have John's handwritten letter on the goldenrod tablet giving me the details on how to join the club. Unfortunately, I put it where I wouldn't lose it and have been looking for it for quite a while.
Like most of you, I met Toby at his Ford Parts Store trailer. I was restoring a Skyliner at that time and was a new member of the IFRC. Our first meeting was at All Ford of Carlisle, or as Dave Dudt refers to it, "The High Holy Days!" It was very easy to become friends with Toby. Thousands of people purchased Ford parts from him, but he would still be able to call you by name. That ability is certainly a gift. He was normally able to recall what you were working on. I often wondered if he was going to know what parts I needed.
As our friendship continued to flourish, he understood I like the memorabilia that went with a Skyliner as well; particularly the things given out by Ford, awards the Ford Company gave to its dealers, and of course, NOS parts. It appeared any time I met up with Toby somewhere in the conversation, a sentence would start with “Jim, I am getting rid of, Jim I have for sale" or "Jim I know a guy that has for sale a ....”
Over the years, I took him up on several of his offers. This tribute to Toby's fifty-year membership in the IFRC caused me to look around at some of the things I have purchased from him. NOS parts, clocks, banners, and Ford factory giveaways. One of the things that Toby had at his Ford Parts Store trailer was a mirror merchandising rack from a Ford Dealership in the late 50s. I always coveted it and said, "if you ever get ready to sell it, let me know!" It is an item I am happy to display in my office.
Fifty years? I only regret I did not meet Toby earlier and hope our friendship can continue for many more years!
Toby and Sandy at work getting Ford parts ready to ship,
It's an honor to have known Toby these past thirty-five years. He's the kind of a guy who, once you've met him, it’s like you have known him forever. Whenever I need a retractable part, I usually call him first, and sometimes it's just to rattle his cage. He almost always comes through for me, and if he doesn't have what I need, he usually knows who does, or else lets me down gently. I often refer other members to F. R. Parts in Bryan, Ohio first. In return, every now and then, my phone rings, and it will be somebody from another Ford Club that he has referred me to with a question about a Ford that has its owner stumped. Usually, we get it figured out.
Congratulations, Toby, it's an honor to call you, my friend.
Unfortunately, two weeks after getting our '58 newly painted stripped-down car back, my husband passed from cancer. Leaving me with such a wonderful unfinished gift I made it my mission to get it back together. During the next few years, I had many calls and questions for Toby and Sandy helping me to purchase my parts. They were always so kind, which I am grateful. Can't wait to meet them in person!!
Wayne and Gail Chase
In 1984 we loaded our two young sons in our 1958 Retractable Hardtop and headed to our first IFRC National Convention in Dearborn, Michigan. We had recently joined the IFRC and did not know anyone in the club but decided to attend the convention because I needed to learn more about the car and how to maintain it. That week, Gail and the boys spent most of their time at the mall or at the hotel pool. I wandered the parking lot all day, and that's where I met the friendly Toby Gorny. He was very helpful and told me a little about the club and the cars. I was having trouble with the car running rough. I thought it was the coil, and Toby put me in touch with a guy that knew about the cars, and he explained to me that it sure acted like a coil problem. The young man was a local, and he went home and brought back another coil for me to try. I appreciated the help I got from Toby. He made a great impression on me, and we look forward to seeing Toby's friendly face at every convention. We have even been fortunate enough to see him at the All-Ford Show in Carlisle, PA a few times. Over the years, I have ordered parts from Toby, and he always ships them right away or brings them to the next show. He is an honest and trustworthy businessman, but more importantly, he is a friend who enjoys the IFRC cars and the people.
Seeking Stars Art Models Visit Placek Ford Models
By Paul Placek
Nine beautiful models from four states (MD, VA, WV, PA) graced our Kent Island, MD collection of a red 1955 Ford golf cart, a black ‘n yellow 1956 golf cart, and their larger color-coordinated and full-size cars—a red 1955 Sunliner and black ‘n yellow 1955 Ford glasstop. Never in history have so many drop-dead gorgeous models visited such beautiful Ford models.
The two Club Car golf carts converted to half-sized 1955 and 1956 Fords were built by CVA superstar Bob Haas two decades ago. He used all-steel original bodies from Ford parts cars. Both small cars have 11 HP Kohler gas engines with electric start, and the lights and horns all work. I purchased both some years ago and repainted them to match the colors of my 1955 Sunliner and 1955 Glasstop. Fewer than a dozen all-metal Club Car golf cart Fords have ever been custom built. These are not kit cars or fiberglass. On the other hand, 49,966 1955 Ford Sunliners and 1,999 1955 Ford Glasstops were built. I spent blood, sweat, tears, years and money to restore the full-sized 1955’s which I own. However, each beautiful model that joined us that day is one-of-a-kind.
While the Ford models originated in Detroit, the nine participant models are from a group of creative volunteers called Seeking Stars Art (www.facebook.com/seekingstarsart). This is an art entertainment group founded by Melissa Craig, which specializes in photo shoots, fundraisers and runway shows, while advocating for The Arts. She has developed a collaborative process for events that allows participants to express their own creativity, while letting their “art give back” to communities and charitable organizations. The collaboration that took place at our Kent Island home paired futuristic costume designs by Brande Wilkerson of VVB Design Studio (www.facebook.com/Victoryvintageboutique), face and body paint by Creative Friends Facepainting, and Fords from my private collection. Cover models were (left to right): Morgan Elliott, Paige Lowe, Molly Heaney, Issabelle Heaney, Franchesca Aloi, Danielle Bergida, Rylee Chamberlain, Julia Holsinger, and Morgan Rigsby, with photography provided by Jason and Melissa Craig, Cindy Armstrong and Anne LeBlanc.
Morgan Elliott – Sophomore majoring in Animal Science and Nutrition at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV.
Paige Lowe – Freshman majoring in Graphics Technology at Pierpont Community & Technical College in Fairmont, WV.
Molly Heaney – Sophomore in High School, in Gainesville, VA.
Issabelle Heaney – “Izzy” is a Senior in High School, in Gainesville, VA.
Jim Rock says, “Thanks again, Dad, for my 1956 Sunliner”
No, I didn't purchase the car from a used car lot, grab it from the wrecking ball at a car cemetery or answer somebody's "For Sale" advertisement. You are in for the full story.
On one sunny day in May of 1956 at 12 years of age, I looked through the window blinds and saw the right rear quarter panel of the new yellow and white 1956 Ford convertible as Dad drove into the driveway. I thought the color combination was very unusual and too bright when compared to Dad's past cars. Sister Dearest helped decide on the Colonial White/Golden Rod Yellow combo before the car came to our home from Mahwah, NJ. Even still, what weird colors I thought!
One of my first trips in the Sunliner was to Bar Harbor, Maine with Dad. The top was down all the way, but Mom didn't go along as she was always afraid of getting her hair blown around. Poor sport! We traveled the old Route One which at the time was the only way up to Bar Harbor. It was congested with summer beach traffic along the coast in the afternoons. Mom never liked the continental kit. It was a bother when it was fill up time. The station attendants never knew quite how to open it. Then there was the time Mom walked home because she could not start the car. The selector level had to be exactly on "N". Dad sure was irritated to go get it because he had to give up his favorite TV program - - Gunsmoke! The gals in the family always would borrow the car and not put gas in - - another irritation to Dad.
During my days at University of New Hampshire, the first two years I used to hitchhike back home to Massachusetts on weekends and pick up the Sunliner where Mom used it to go to work. The last two years I was allowed to have a car on campus, so I had it all to myself.
The year was 1962, graduation time from high school. Dad was pleased with my school report card and realized the '56 had 21,000 miles on it. The time was appropriate to do his regular six-year trade in, so he said "Here you are son! The car is yours. You will be needing one from this point on." I really couldn't believe my good fortune. The car was mine free and clear - - a gift! All I had to do was to supply the gas and take care of the maintenance. What a nice Dad!!
Submitted by: Matt Klein Gannott
On behalf of the family of Rick Gannott (Sept 23, 1955 - Aug 7, 2020)
The love and passion my dad, Rick Gannott, had for cars flowed through his veins from a very early age. Growing up, his family owned and operated a Sinclair gas station, and it was here that his love of everything mechanics and cars began. In fact, before he was even old enough to drive, he became a proud car owner. It was 1970, and the engine in the car his brother used for work had given out. Not one to throw anything out, dad saw this as an opportunity! This wasn’t just any car. It was a 1956 Ford Sunliner. Instead of hauling it to the junkyard as was planned, his brother gave it to him as a project. Dad was determined to get this car running and on the road in time for his 16th birthday. Dedicating all his time to this new project as a young teen, he replaced the engine with a 312 and had it back on the road in no time. Unfortunately, the new engine gave out within a month and was replaced with a 292 and a manual transmission. Throughout high school, this 1956 Ford was his daily driver. After graduation, he needed something more reliable to get to vocational school. His beloved Sunliner was put in storage and replaced with a red 1966 Chevy Impala (which he too, of course, kept and ultimately restored).
Although his first car had been in storage for many years, his passion for the project never wavered. Nearly 15 years later, he was finally ready to resurrect his 1956 Ford Sunliner. He was determined to bring it back to its original two-tone green glory. His passion quickly spread through my family. My mom, brother, and I dedicated many nights and weekends to “helping” dad bring his car back to life with a frame up restoration. Apart from the body work and paint, he did all the work himself. He admitted to me a few years later that much of the work he had to do was correcting the work and modifications he had made as a teenager. After it was restored, we spent nearly every weekend creating memories as a family traveling around southern Minnesota attending various cruises, car shows, and parades. The dream he once had as a 15-year-old had turned into to a family affair.
Over the years, this two-toned green Sunliner became synonymous with my dad. People knew him because of his car. Driving and tinkering with this car was his happy place. Shortly after finishing his restoration in 1990, he was proud to make the cover of the Fomoco Times. He was a dedicated, 30-year member of the CVA and attended many National Conventions and Regional events.
Only a few short months after retiring from a 45-year career at Higley Ford in Windom, MN, my dad passed away. His time was abruptly cut short, and he wasn’t able to create the many memories he longed to have with his car and his grandkids. Although his loss has had a profound impact on my family, having this tangible, important piece of my dad’s history is priceless. As the next generation with this car, it has become a priority to care for it just as he did for nearly 50 years. I hope to build upon his passion and the memories he created for my brother and I and form new lasting memories for with my own 2 boys.