Updated: Dec 27, 2019
"It's all in the Family of Fine Fords"
This picture was taken several years ago with my son Ethan and a 55 Sunliner
Ever since I was young enough to identify different makes of automobiles I can remember my family talking about classic Fords. In their teenage years my great uncles collected 1949-51 Fords, running Flathead V-8's across the North Carolina farmlands in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the late 50's they both began running 55 and 56 Y block powered cars and trucks and have kept with them ever since I've known them. During the late 60's my dad bought a 1956 Ford Customline Victoria off the showroom floor of a local Dodge dealership in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Yes, the showroom floor of a Dodge dealership! The 56 he purchased was a moonshine car complete with a 312, two-four barrel setup, hot cam, and beefed up suspension. According to my dad, "There was nothing that could touch it."
When I became a teenager the itch to own and drive a mid-50's Ford hit me, and away we went, looking for a good candidate. Back then, my great uncles still had excellent health and owned a few Crown Victoria's and Sunliner convertibles but none of them happened to be for sale. The article below was written up in the Washington Times and I have made reference to it elsewhere on the website. The text is re-typed below the copies of the newspaper itself for easy reading.
Where is it written that an antique car has to pampered?
A family in Dale City has proof positive that cars are made to be driven and enjoyed. Don and Brenda Jessup always got along nicely with new cars, but with three sons - Dan, 16, Michael, 14, and Aaron, 13 - the need for a school car became apparent. Nothing available really fit the bill, but Mr. Jessup remembered the mid-50s Fords. His first car had been a 1956 Ford. So the search began, with many cars found and rejected.
Mr. Jessup's father in Mount Airy, N.C., got into the act and told his son about a local 1955 Ford two-door Club Sedan. The Jessups drove the 330 miles to Mount Airy and looked the car over but weren't quite sure this one was for them. A second trip to North Carolina still didn't convince them. They wanted the best 55 Ford they could find.
Finally, in October, as Dan turned 16, the Jessups were visiting Mount Airy when Mr. Jessup and Dan saw the by-now-familiar Ford drive by. That was it.
"We chased him down," Mr. Jessup says, "and bought it in a church parking lot."
The Jessups returned home without the car. The next month, during Thanksgiving break from school, they went back and took delivery of the Ford that, when new, cost $2,015. Mr. Jessup says they took along every tool they could and anything else they thought might come in handy, such as bailing wire and tape. You can't be too careful.
Fortunately, the trip home was uneventful, and at highway speeds the car averaged 22 miles per gallon.
The Jessups' Ford is equipped with a 272-cubic-inch V-8, the small version of the famous Y-block that produces 162 horsepower. "We've fallen in love with it," Mrs. Jessup says.
Dan drives himself and his brothers to Heritage Christian School in Dale City daily, and the Ford performs faithfully, not even burning oil. The car had been green and white, but now sports a red-and-white paint job, including red fender skirts. It has the optional radio, heater, and Fordomatic transmission.
When they went to register the car, Mr. Jessup explained that the 79,000 miles on the odometer probably was at least 179,000 and may have been 279,00. "It's been around a time or two," he says.
"There's a lot of things about the car we couldn't believe," Dan says. The Jessups find themselves spending time locating 35-year-old Ford parts. They wouldn't have it any other way. Their car is a daily driver, and they enjoy using it for its intended purpose.
Will old Fords continue to run in the family? From the looks of the faces of my three children I am not so sure! This photo was taken about 10 years ago - my two daughters are in college and "out of the house". My son, Ethan, turns 16 next February. He has helped me on this build of the 1955 Ford Fairlane and there are pictures and videos to prove it. Ethan says he likes trucks - will he opt for an old Ford? Who knows?