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Oh, Vicky!

Restored '53 Ford Crestline Victoria recreates memories

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George Rogers' 1953 Ford Victoria

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Ford models in 1952 offered a completely new body and styling.

The new Ford featured a one-piece curved windshield, full width rear window, a flat hood and new round tail-lamp housings. There were also simulated scoop side panels, redesigned interior appointments and instrument panel, and for easier fuel fill-ups, the gas filler neck was now hidden behind the rear license plate

This was all cutting-edge styling at the time, and offered on the low-priced Ford, it caught other manufacturers off guard. With most pushing their same old designs, Ford sales soared.

Even in the 1960s, the '52 Victoria held a magical draw for George Rogers. Growing up in Thunder Bay, he remembers seeing a slightly customized Vicky appeared in the front row of a used-car lot.

"I wheeled in driving my '48 Chev sedan, which had been my first car, and made a deal for a trade-up," Rogers recalls. "What a great car that Ford was!"

Rogers spent many summer nights over the next two years, cruising with the windows down and listening to WLS Chicago radio. He also developed a passion for ice racing on Lake Superior during the winter months.

"I think I spent about as much time driving that car sideways as I did forward." he said.

Over the years, Rogers became involved in the old-car hobby and owning and restoring several great cars, including a 1940 Pontiac he still has today. But "I've never forgotten how I loved my Vicky and in fact, on many occasions over the years, I've dreamed about driving it."

With such an indelible memory of the car, Rogers felt he had to own one again and started looking for another Vicky. Earlier this year, scoured print and online advertisements for cars both in Canada and the U.S. The more he looked, the more he felt just finding a driver-quality car wasn't going to do it, so he concentrated more on finding a recently restored car.

In April, Rogers spotted a fully restored 1953 Crestline Victoria two-door hardtop up for auction on eBay. The '52 and '53 Fords are almost identical in appearance and share the same powertrain, so it fell within Rogers search parameters. The car didn't sell at auction, but Rogers kept in contact with the Maryland owner, George Hatcher, and they finally agreed on a sale in June.

The '53 Crestline Victoria had only been driven 1,600 miles since undergoing a full restoration and was in excellent condition. Finished in two-tone Raven Black with a Sungate Ivory roof, the Vicky catches your eye at every angle.

Inside, the vinyl and cloth upholstery is equally attractive, with a combination of Flamingo Red, Sungate Ivory and Raven Black hues. Optional extras found on the car include Deluxe AM radio, Deluxe heater, electric clock, directional signals, windshield washers, tinted glass back-up lamps and wide whitewall tires.

Powering the Vicky is the legendary Ford flathead V8. Displacing 239 cubic inches and developing 110 horsepower, the flathead reigned as the performance engine of choice for more than two decades after its introduction in 1932. But 1953 would be its swan-song year, as the '54 model would debut with a new Y-Block overhead valve V8.

The engine is backed by a three-speed manual shift transmission leading to an open rear axle with 3.55:1 final drive ratio.

The Vicky also came with full documentation including the original sales invoice. It was purchased new by Fred Gilliam from Person Motor Company in Williamsburg, Virginia, for $2,517.56 including optional equipment. Rogers even has an audio tape of the original owner reminiscing about his '53 Ford.

Arranging transportation for the car back to Winnipeg turned out to be quite the adventure for Rogers. An Internet query unleashed a flood of proposals that jammed his inbox with varying prices and options for delivering the car. After much thought, he chose a company to transport the car to from Maryland to Fargo, North Dakota. Three days later, Rogers and his wife Nancy were there on the July long weekend to meet the Vicky as it arrived on the trailer. The next day, the Rogers were headed for home.

"The car drove perfectly, much as I remember my first Vicky, floating along quite effortlessly at about 55 miles-per-hour," Rogers said.

The Rogers have been members of the Manitoba Classic & Antique Auto for more than 30 years and are thoroughly enjoying the car. There have been a number of afternoon drives through the park, visits to seniors' homes where residents enjoy seeing the cars they remember from the old days, and even a tour following along the route of the Prairie Dog Central steam train.

Rogers continues to correspond with the original owner's family to learn more about its history.

While the radio hasn't tuned in WLS Chicago yet, and it's doubtful that Rogers will be ice-racing his new Vicky this winter, you can bet he and Nancy are looking forward to more miles and full smiles with Vicky next year.

Summer 2013

Have you ever noticed how many people will stop and take in a car show? Even people who had no idea it was happening will often tell organizers what a fantastic time they had.

For members of the Manitoba's classic and collector car community, guides detailing every show throughout the year can be picked up early at the Annual Piston Ring World of Wheels car show held at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, or through car clubs and local merchants in the automotive trade.

But what about other folks, especially those who might like to take in a car show while on vacation?

Travel Manitoba has recently extended an invitation to car clubs to list their events in the annual Summer Vacation Guide. The information will also be available on their website. But the deadline for submissions is Nov. 1, so time is limited. Clubs should contact Event Listings Coordinator Lori Klan at 204-373-2822 or email lklan@travelmanitoba.com

But wait, there's more. Tourism Winnipeg also has a event guide and website that will include what's happening in the local collector-car hobby. Contact Nancy Evans at nancy@tourismwinnipeg.com for information. There is a criteria to follow for listing events that must meet specific guidelines.

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