While I was growing up in the Pacific Northwest, my family always had Fords and my dad was a real fan of the Indy 500 race. The year 1953 was important in our home for two reasons: it was Ford's 50th anniversary and Billy Vukovich won the Indy 500! Life was good.
Ford had been given the honor of providing the Official Pace Car for the Indy 500 as part of their advertising program for the 50th anniversary celebration. Ford chose its top-of-the-line Crestline convertible as the Pace Car. The car was painted Pace Car White with a white top, wide whitewall tires on special wire wheels, and special interior paint and fabrics.
Ford produced 2,000 Pace Car replicas for display in dealerships during the May race season. My dad and I saw one of the replicas at our local Ford dealer and for several months thereafter this visit and car were the car topic of discussion.
Many years later as a seasoned corporate gypsy, I bought my first convertible while living in Phoenix, then another convertible after moving to Southern California, and then a third when my wife and I moved to San Jose. Each purchase reminded me of the Ford Pace Car my dad and I saw in the showroom in 1953.
Then while reading the classified section in the San Jose newspaper early in 2002, I noticed a 1953 Ford convertible for sale. The owner was dealing with some health issues and was selling off a few of his cars. The only way he'd sell me the convertible was if I purchased the '53 four-door to go with it. The convertible had been parked without a cover in the seller's backyard. There was no engine or trans. The holes in the top allowed leaves and other droppings to get inside, causing some rust in the floors and lower body panels, but the stainless and chrome pieces were all there. The price was still fair for the two cars so, with $3,000 in hand and a trailer hooked to the truck, I went and completed the deal.
I bought the car because my dad really wanted to buy one in 1953 but in our home, Pacific Northwest weather and convertibles didn't mix well. I had already started working on the car while living in San Jose when my wife and I decided to move back to the Pacific Northwest in early 2003. I left the convertible with Ron Wright and Bob Brink at Campbell Ford Performance so that the basic body modifications and repairs could be done and the new drivetrain installed. When these things were completed I brought the Ford up to Gig Harbor, Washington, so the paint and initial interior could be done.
It didn't take too many years before my wife and I grew homesick for California, so we decided to move back to SoCal in 2007. The convertible made the trip with us and we soon completed the suspension and final interior after Thanksgiving in 2007.
It's been a long time coming but I'm positive my dad would have enjoyed this bright red convertible with the wide whites and wires.