Talk about a Valentine’s Day gift to remember … Joyce Ogdon received a special one from her husband Ken in February, 2015. It was a beautiful 1956 Ford Victoria hardtop that rekindled special memories from their early years as a married couple.
“The first good car we had was a ’56 Victoria,” Ken said. That car was a hardtop painted in a turquoise color, with fewer options, but it had been reliable, logging over 100,000 miles before it was traded off.
“We’d been looking for one, but we never could find one … we were prejudiced, I guess,” said Joyce. The couple had attended Barrett-Jackson auctions in hopes of replicating their earlier Victoria.
“We had never seen one go through the auction that was worth fixing up,” Ken said.
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Then one day while looking for Thunderbird parts on Amos Minter’s website, he spotted just what they had been looking for. Minter is famous as a leading restorer of 1955-56 Thunderbirds and 1956-’57 Fords. Offered for sale was a ’56 Victoria in the process of being restored.
“I asked him when it would be finished and he said probably two to three years. He said, `If you get someone to finish it up, I’ll sell it to you,’” Ken said.
The Victoria was a barn find, found in Wichita, where it had been bought new and eventually stored since 1969, with barely 27,000 miles showing on the odometer. It required some chain saw work to clear the brush in front of the building to get the car out.
“Wallace Peckham found the car in Wichita and bought it. On the way back home, he came by my place and I thought I had to have it. It was a nice, unrestored car,” said Minter.
The Ford was well equipped from the factory. Foremost on the option list was the rare factory air conditioning system, with its vents mounted in the center of the top of the dashboard. A Town & Country Signal Seeking radio provided on-the-road Top 40 tunes, news, weather and sports.
The Victoria also came with power steering, electric windows and Ford’s “Swift Sure Power Brakes,” with the brake booster mounted on the inner driver’s side fender, rather than on the firewall.
Under the hood was a Thunderbird 292 Y-block V-8 engine equipped with a 4-barrel carburetor. It was mated to a Ford-O-Matic 3-speed transmission. All are numbers-matching original parts.
“It’s got everything on it but a continental kit, power seat and the 312 V-8,” Ken Ogdon noted. “Amos said it was too unusual to not finish it.”
Minter had already installed new orange and white factory-correct waffle-pattern upholstery in the interior and overhauled the transmission, brakes and carburetor, as well as replacing the water and power steering pumps. A new gas tank was also installed.
Ogdon took the car to Ron Barter in Muldrow, Okla., who had experience restoring ’55-’56 Victorias, to continue the restoration. Barter detailed the engine compartment and removed the dash to rewire the electrical components.
The car had been freshly repainted in Mandarin Orange and Colonial White, but after consulting several paint shops about wet-sanding the finish, there were concerns about burning through the clearcoat. So Ogdon decided to repaint the car,
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Jeremy Craun of Santa Fe Auto in Andover painted the car. Although the original bumpers and grille were in decent shape, they were removed and sent to Joe Wells of Collinsville, Okla., for professional rechroming. Jack Perry of Benton oversaw the final stages of the restoration.
Minter had suggested replacing the factory wheel covers with a set of Truespoke wire wheels, to match the Universal Classic 215/75R15 reproduction wide whitewall radial tires on the car, and Ken Ogdon took his advice.
It all came together in a truly stunning package -- one so nice that Joyce was obliged to turn down the keys to a late model Toyota, another vehicle and a quarter horse at a recent car show.
“I’m sorry, I’m a Ford girl,” she told the man offering the trade.
And ironically, her Valentine gift is also a homecoming present, having started its life in Wichita and now returned here to live out the rest of its life.
Mike Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org