1953 Ford Sunliner Convertible
There is something wonderful, disquieting, and in the end, embarrassing about America’s cars in the 1950’s: the lunkers, the dreamboats, the befinned, the be-chromed behemoths that lurked in the driveways of our suburban ranch homes in the burbs… only because they were too big for the garage! These were so American it drove Europeans to the brink of envy with their excesses in horsepower, and gadgetry. Throw caution to the wind as gas was super cheap, and was sold by the gallon, not the liter, so drive on! -Thx to Karl Ann Marling from Autoeroticism
1953 was Ford’s Golden Anniversary year celebrating 50 years in the car business. The new body shell introduced the previous year continued untouched as it would over the next several years. The newly-designed cars were lower and wider. The Crestline became a top-of-line V-8 series. Ford Division built 1.2 million cars in ’53 which put a serious hurting on the independent manufacturers of the day. For consignment, the example so defining of the era of car manufacturing it would be an example in the dictionary under the word excess. This restored and kustom example of a 1953 Ford Sunliner is certainly dripping with all the trappings of the era, and then some. Presentable condition, and an amalgamation of various models all put together for this total custom creation begging the question “Who’s your daddy?!” Henry!
Up front and center we start with a toothy grille, (possibly from a Corvette), all mirror-like, framed by marker lights on the sides, and below is the bumper, showing off just as nice as the grille. Floating within the leading edge of the front fenders are single headlights embedded smoothly into the steel. These are side by side with a bulbous long rounded hood with large pink scallops, which is a very nice contrast to the aqua paint seen on all the straight steel panels. More scallops in pink are seen on the side highlighting the beltline and curving back at the front of the fender before diminishing into the middle of the doors. On the rockers are lake pipes with single dummy outlets, all in a background of nicely applied aqua paint. Another scallop accentuates the rear quarter panel body line and fins have been grafted into the trailing edge of these panels. Fender skirts hold the curved line from the lake pipes to the rear bumper and show just a hint of wide white sidewall. Up top, chrome trim highlights the passenger compartment and a white canvas top with a plastic rear window is on. On back are Packard Clipper pointy taillights and another pristine bumper. Residing behind the trunk lid is a continental kit with a spare tire and some pink flames and “I Love Lucy” painted onto the holder. A few rust bubbles and evidence of prior bodywork are noted on the lower panels but nothing requiring immediate attention. 14-inch steel wheels with Lancer style hubcaps and wide whites on all 4 corners and sport more pink highlighting.
Not to be outdone by the exterior, a mixed use of aqua and white vinyl covers all the door panel surfaces and seats. The seats are in white vinyl with tuck and roll inserts with aqua piping, and we note a large front split back bench in front and a solid bench in the rear. The original steering wheel has been retained and in the center is the Ford crest badging. The steering wheel is black bakelite with a few notable cracks. Upfront is the original dash with an arched speedometer with various gauges arching above it within the aqua steel dash top. Shiny chrome bezels throughout house black topped knobs and the factory AM radio remains in its original location. On top of the dash in a center pod is the factory clock and beautiful black carpet floods the floors and floats all this 50’s splendor and excess.
Cleanly restored is the term for this engine bay. Lurking between the satin black fenders and firewall is a 239ci V8 painted top to bottom in Ford Blue. Topping it is a 2bbl carburetor under a small chrome air cleaner and on the back is a 3-speed manual transmission. Putting the power to the asphalt is a 3.90 geared rear axle.
A mix of patina, undercoating, road dirt and light surface rust greet us with this kustom up in the air. The flooring and frame are structurally solid as a rock and present well. Independent coil spring suspension for the front, and leaf springs for the rear, along with drum brakes all around. Sound construction topped off with clean rust-free exhaust pipes combining with the headers, and Smithy mufflers to give this car a low rumble upon approach of it.
Following our consignor’s instructions, we checked and topped off the oil which is necessary due to a rear main seal leak. After some cranking the engine came to life but audible evidence of a stuck valve is heard. In an attempt to keep our drive short, I had my all around good guy and crack decoder drive to the test track. Even on the way there he noted that the clutch felt weak and would need replacing. A short drive was had to check functions, which were all functional but otherwise mechanical repairs are needed.
This writer is a sucker for these 50s pieces of Detroit iron, and with all the trimmings and custom touches I’m in LOVE! A fantastic older build producing a Crestline Sunliner for the ages even with the needed TLC. A must see if you like this stuff, as there are none others even close to this one in our massive mall. Trust me between me and my cohort, we’ve driven them all…
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