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.
Submitted by: Ken Colbert, Ruffsdale, PA
My name is Ken Colbert, northeast region, CVA #2675. I'm a barber in Ruffsdale, PA. If that sounds familiar it may be because I've had several articles in FoMoCo Times through the years and I know a lot of the CVA members as well.
You may remember that I had an article in the August 2017 edition about me accidentally finding out the total history of my 56 Crown Victoria and an unknown owner who lives less than a mile away from me. A similar story ensues . . .
Many years ago a customer of mine, Jerry, after seeing all my 55 / 56 Ford stuff in the barber shop, told me he bought a 55 Crown Victoria from a junkyard two miles up the road – from a guy named Arnie and DROVE it home ( about 35 miles ) for $200! Now this was probably in the early sixties. Jerry was just 'crazy' about the 55 and 56 Crown Victoria's! It's all he talked about . . .
Eventually Jerry's income and health fell away. And although he was a mechanic by trade he never got the chance to make his car road worthy. It just sat beside his mobile home with a pick up load of misc. parts for the old Ford deteriorating away year after year. He almost had tears in his eyes telling me about it.
Then he came in one day and told me a man named John had been pestering him for the last few years to sell him the car. Jerry knew he would never be able to put her back on the road again so the last time John showed up at his door Jerry asked him how he wanted to restore the car. 'Back to original' was John's reply. Jerry pointed to the old parts rusting away and told John he could take the whole load for free. John turned and asked 'How much for the Crown'? Jerry said 'just take it too'. The natural reply was 'What's the catch?' Jerry replied 'Just take me for a ride when she's restored'. The car had a new owner.
Several years later I went to a car show and saw a drop dead gorgeous 55 Regency Purple and white Crown Victoria. The name on the owners card was 'John'. Sure enough it was him! We talked for a long time about our mutual friend Jerry. Shortly after that both Jerry and John disappeared from my life. But that's not the end of the story. Back to the barber shop . . .
Like Jerry, a new customer Jim admired all the Crown Victoria stuff he saw at the shop and quickly informed me he bought a 55 Crown in another state when he was in the service – he even gave me a black and white photo of it. When I asked what color it was he told me purple and white. Then he told me he eventually drove it back to Pennsylvania but sold soon after it to a guy named ARNIE . . .
BOOM! Jim bought it in another state, Jim sold it to Arnie, Arnie sold it to Jerry, Jerry ( gave ) it to John – same car! When I realized this I was asking everyone if they ever saw a purple and white 55 Crown Victoria at the local car shows. Lots of people saw it, and obviously remembered it, but hadn't seen it lately.
Enter Don and Amy Zinn, 55 pink and white Sunliner, CVA #7844. When I asked about John, Amy said he passed away. She also said the reason nobody had seen it is because his grandson, the new owner, isn't interested showing it, and wants to sell it. She didn't remember his name but knew the name of the business that he ran and also had the number! BINGO!
Footnote: Jim told his wife I knew the where-abouts of his old car and she secretly asked me to call her if I ever saw it again. She wanted to arrange for her husband to see the car. When I got the information she wanted I called and told Jim my wife wanted to talk to his wife about something – they didn't know each other. When his wife got on I gave her the scoop and Jim never suspected anything.
Jim showed up at my shop last week showing me some pictures. He said his son took him to this guy's shop ( John's grandson ) and he asked his unsuspecting Dad to wait in the car for him. After it was all set up he motioned for his Dad to come in. I don't know if his eyes or his pants were wet but after sixty-some years the reunion took place and attached are the photos to prove it. What a twist . . .
“a rough story with a happy ending”
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines FORGE: #3, transitive verb: to form or bring into being especially by an expenditure of effort.
September 7, 2019 began as a beautiful day that held the promise of enjoying an event in Parkville, MO, called the “Dust Bowl Jamboree” hosted by Jim and Melissa Spawn, members of “Classic Thunderbirds of Kansas City”. Jim and Martha Dillenschneider planned to meet other CTKC club members attending the event. However, in an effort to provide possible transportation for other car enthusiasts, the decision to drive their 55 Ford Sunliner convertible, which has a rear seat, instead of their 56 Ford Thunderbird that does not was made. Shortly after arriving, Jim and Martha met Scott Langdon driving his beautiful 57 Ford Thunderbird. An initial activity of a “poker run” offering an attractive cash prize captured Jim, Martha and Scott’s attention. What could be better than to cruise a little with some other classic cars and afterwards with a little luck, possibly walk away with a nice cash prize? So in an entourage of classic cars, they made the first few checkpoints to hopefully draw a winning poker hand. A beautiful Ford Model A sedan led Scott’s Thunderbird which was followed by Jim and Martha’s Sunliner.
The street, on which Scott, Jim and Martha pulled to the curbside to diagnose the sound coming from under the hood of Scott’s Thunderbird had little traffic. They had parked next to the curb. They felt no danger. Martha waited in the Sunliner parked behind the Thunderbird while Jim and Scott looked under the hood of Scott’s Thunderbird for the problem. The Ford Model A, not knowing the cars following him had stopped, traveled on. A witness confirms that the vehicle that struck the Sunliner from the rear, causing impact with the rear of the Thunderbird, causing the Thunderbird to be knocked out of park and proceed with no driver a significant distance through a fence and be stopped by a tree was unquestioningly at fault.
This story has a happy ending. And it has to do with being a member of a club that provides resources and support. As of this writing both cars are repaired and back on the road. As for Scott’s Thunderbird, membership in CTKC proved to be vital to his car’s repair journey. The initial credit for Scott’s success undoubtedly belongs to Scott. If it were not for him, another Classic Thunderbird would have been lost. Additionally, it must be stated the successful repair of the car without the involvement of CTKC members and their associates probably wouldn’t have happened. I would like to name them; John Smith (our CTKC President and CTCI Committee Chairperson), Jim and Martha Dillenschneider (moral support), Alan Stouffer (body repair specialist), Mitch Reed (parts supplier), and parts supply associates provided by networking in other states, including Ohio and Tennessee.
I’d like to tell the story about my husband Chuck Arnold. He loved old cars since he was a kid, of course I didn’t know him then so I’ll fast forward to 1962. That’s when I met him, I was 16, he was 19. My brother-in-law Mike knew Chuck first and asked me to go out with him because he had a car and he wanted to take my sister Jean out. At first I said no but he kept begging me to go out with him and he told my brother Jimmy to try and get me to go out with him. They said he was a nice guy but he was too shy to ask me out.
Well I finally broke down and said yes. He picked me up in a 1956 Primed black Mercury! (this was a nice car!) Anyway he took me to the RKO Keiths movie theater in D.C. We sat in the balcony (of course) and about half hour into the show he planted a kiss on me! You know the old saying “love at first sight” well that was “love at first kiss”. He came around everyday after that.
Move ahead to Christmas 1962, Chuck asked me to marry him and after a lot of begging my parents they finally gave the ok.
I was 17, Chuck was 20, and on February 15, 1963 we were wed. Moving forward to 1987 Chuck and I had four children and our youngest daughter had just graduated high school. He said let’s take a trip out West so we got in our 1984 Crown Victoria and headed West. We were gone several weeks and were going to stop in Nashville to see The Grand Ole Opry, as we pulled up to the hotel Chuck said look at all those Fords. Well I don’t have to tell you he got out of the car and he was like a kid in a candy store. We walked around that parking lot for hours. He went inside and joined the CVA, we stayed for the 50’s dance and had a great weekend. That was over 30 years ago. Chuck rebuilt a 1956 Crown Victoria after many years and lots of money, a few years later he built a 1955 Ford Club Sedan. He loved his old cars.
We went to many local car shows and a few CVA Conventions. We had picnics in the yard and all his friends would drive their old cars. We would go to the local 50’s restaurant called Bert’s.
Fast forward to 2018 on September 14, 2018 Chuck suffered a severe stroke, after 30 days in rehab he came home and I took care of him. After a year or so it was getting difficult to care for Chuck by myself, so my children suggested we sell the house and move to Tennessee so they could help care for him. We put the house up for sale and as much as I didn’t want to we had to sell the Fords. I know he was upset but i told him someone in the CVA bought them and maybe we would see them in the Fomoco Times at a convention one day. June of 2020 we moved to Tennessee, Chuck liked the new house and he did well for a few months. We had family gatherings with all the children, grandchildren, and great grand children.
I’m sorry to say the love of my life passed away at home on October 7, 2020 just 10 days before his 78th birthday. He’ll always be in our hearts.
Submitted by: The Family
Charles H. Arnold
October 17, 1942 - October 7, 2020
Not Stock and Absolutely Stunning
We purchased our '66 Club Sedan in 1990, and published a short progress report in the January 1993, Vol. 16, #1 FOMOCO TIMES. Now it's finished as of January 1998 and we call it "Marta's car".
Although not an "original" restoration, all the ornaments and emblems are there thanks to Dennis Carpenter products. Many items were purchased from Carpenter and Mr. Brown Small, who both advertise in the CVA magazine. A special thanks to Brown Small for many hard-to-find pieces and last-minute parts that were sent quickly when needed. The body work, paint, interior and detail work were performed by a new local old car business, that I refer to as the Three Bills. The owner, body man and interior man are all named Bill! Bill and Bill, who now work with Bill have previously done work on our '51 Mere and '51 Victoria.
Specifications are as follows: 312 Y Block T-Bird VS with 4 barrel and Ford-o-matic, dual exhaust with Smitty glass packs, new Ford paint colors are Laser Red (3 coat system] and Crystal White, white roll and pleat, Vintage Air A/C and heater, alternator, coker, continental kit, original skirts, wheelcovers are '57 Lancers on front and stock on rear, headlight shields, blue dots, Jamco suspension lowered 4" front and rear with gas shocks, Jamco 4 core radiator, 225x75d5 wide white radials by B. F. Goodrich, shoulder safety belts. Our Louisiana antique tag reads: "TBIRDVS".
We previously attended the National Show held in St. Louis (without a car], and plan to attend in the future with this ''back to the future Club Cruiser".
For most of my life my interest was in restoring 1955-1956 Fords. In fact at this point I’ve reached a total of 24 cars and climbing. My motivation was an intense love for these two years of Ford production.
The name Parklane resonates “luxury” to me. I picture this car as belonging to an owner of a country estate surrounded by copious trees and gardens with fountains. This was the most luxurious Ford Wagon of 1956 with only 15,156 made and only produced for one year. The Parklane was in competition with the 1956 Chevrolet Nomad. Restoring a Parklane immediately presents a serious challenge in locating all the parts needed for the job. That is of course if you can find a Parklane to restore in the first place. One day a friend of mine called to let me know he knew of a Parklane for sale in Indiana. The owner had the car in climate control storage for 30 years. Arrangements were made to purchase the car and two friends drove the trailer out to Indiana and then back to Malden, Massachusetts to my shop. This is where I began the process of taking everything completely apart.
From the moment the car was disassembled I wanted this to be one of my best restorations regardless of expense and including every option I could find available for use in the Parklane, which came to 22 options!! As you can judge by the figure, the car is loaded.
I’ve had my 1956 Ford Sunliner for more than 40 years. Growing up, my dad, my brother and I would go every year to see the new models. When I was dating my wife in 1963, I owned a ’63 and a half Ford Galaxy. At that time, I also had a 1955 Ford Sunliner convertible that I bought when I was 19 years old. One day a few years later, I stopped at a service station to get gas in my ’55 and a man there told me that he knew where there was another car similar to mine. Turns out, it was only about 10 miles from where I lived at that time. I went home and got my wife, Kay, our check book, and purchased this car that same day.
Kay and I have had a lot of fun over the years participating in car shows, high school and college homecoming parades, the annual Dollywood parade, and joy riding with the top down around our beautiful East Tennessee Great Smokey Mountain area. When I first purchased the car, it needed some work done to it. I had it repainted, put new seat covers on it, and put a new convertible top on it. The car looked great after that! Recently, my neighbor Randy, who used to work in Detroit at Ford Motor Co, has helped me maintain and fine tune the car. In addition to my ’56 Ford Convertible, I have a 1930 A-Model with 11,000 miles, a fully restored 1966 Ford pickup truck, and a 1977 Mercury Cougar XR7 that I bought new. My wife also has the Volkswagen Beetle that her father purchased new in 1974. All of my family and friends have always know me as a “Ford Man.” I even use a 1956 Ford tractor on my farm. I have always loved the Ford brand and, even now at 82 years young, I drive a 2017 Ford F-150.
Submitted by Bob Martin
My first encounter with 1956 Fords was when my dad bought one. I was ten years old. It was a Country Sedan station wagon. My dad gave this car to me eight years later. It was my first car to drive, it needed body and motor repairs. I got it on the road after four months of work in time for my high school graduation. Later that fall returning from stock car races I blew a right front tire and found the ditch. The car didn’t come out of this encounter well.
Needing a replacement car, I cruised the used car lots. I spotted a peacock blue 1956 crown Vic at Walt’s car exchange. After begging for the money to buy this I finally got it home. I had two minor body incidents I sold this car. My next vehicle was a 1959 police interceptor, which I drove until I went into the army from 1966-1968.
Fast forwarding to1993 some buddies of mine talked me into getting into restoring a 56 Ford Fairlane Victoria. I bought two cars, one 1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria, and a 56-sedan car for parts. The 56 two door Vik hard top had been used for drag racing in Ohio. Several months later, and lots of late nights in the garage my 56 black Victoria was road ready. I had restored it to its original color and body style. It did not have the original 312 Y-block motor and transmission. Irene and I drove it to the Detroit convention, and later to the convention in Sandusky, Ohio. We also did several local shows and just enjoyed going for drives in it.
Since we have been members of CVA we hadn't seen a Custom line Victoria on the cover of the Fomoco Times until Tom & Susan Witham in April of 2020. (Nice Car). So, here's our story of our Blue Vic.
We are Billy and Linda Huffman of Middle Tennessee.
We have been Chevy people for years owning 1955,56, and 57's and the last one was a 1950 Chevy Belair.
Two years ago in April, while in Pigeon Forge Tennessee at a car show, we spied Blue Vic. A 1956 Ford Custom line Victoria and it was for sale. It caught our eye with it's beautiful blue and white exterior and gorgeous blue and white upholstery. We fell in (I want it), not I love it. There were a lot of cars for sale that year so we continued looking around but couldn't get Blue Vic off our minds. Needless to say, we went back for the second look. We didn't take any money with us for we weren't planning on buying a car. We called the owner and had him come down and talk to us about it. Billy wanted to test drive it. The car belonged to a classic car dealer. He called Blue Vic a Custom line 300. He didn't realize it is a Custom line Victoria. We knew that it was a 2 door Custom line and didn't realize they only made around 33,000 of these cars according to our research. Billy test drove the car and made him an offer. We told him we didn't bring any money but if he would take a check, we would buy it. He thought about it for a while then accepted our offer.
Submitted by Bernard and Jo-Eane McKay, Prince George, BC
My career as a car guy goes back to my high school years. In 1962, at age 15, my grade ten class took a trip from our school in New Westminster BC to Seattle Washington along the newly competed Interstate 5. Some of my classmates were pointing at the new Chevy II s and a few Corvettes. I was looking for Ford and Oldsmobiles. My Dad had owned a 1951 Olds Rocket 88 when I was 13 years old and that car and its V-8 motor impressed me. Around that time, I saw my first 1956 Crown Victoria and that would be my favorite car from that point on.
I was one of the few guys at our school to not only have a driver's license but also a car to drive. By 1965 I was illegally drag racing on my local 'drag strip' most Friday and Saturday nights. In the course of 18 months I went through 5 cars. The rear ends (side gears) would break on the '55 and '56 Fords. I was at the stage of life, 18 years old, when I 'thought 'I knew everything but actually knew nothing. That usually points to a career in politics.
I was getting good at working on Y blocks and re-built a 272 complete with¾ race cam. The best Y block I ever owned was out of a 1957 Monarch Turnpike Cruiser. By 1957 the 312 was improved enough that the rear seal didn't leak and even the automatic transmission real seal didn't leak. The 312 had the most horsepower and really spun the wheels of my '55 two door post.
In 1967 I met the love of my life Jo-Eane and we got married in June of 1968. Our honeymoon car was my 1956 Meteor Crown Victoria. I had reversed the rims and put on the typical (for the times) baby moon hubcaps. Of course, a floor shifter had to be installed. This was a rare car with only about 600 Crown Victoria Meteors built in Canada. I wish I still had that car today.