Chevrolet brought the first 2-door hardtop to the low price field in 1950 with its new Bel Air, an instant hit with 76,602 built. Ford responded nearly halfway through the following year with its sleek Victoria hardtop. Despite its late start, a total of 110,286 were built, outselling the ’51 Chev and Plymouth hardtops to become the best-selling hardtop in North America in 1951.
George McDonald of Orangeville, Ontario, purchased his 1951 Ford Victoria 2-door hardtop in Montreal in January 1988 with the odometer showing only 29,990 miles. He still owns the car nearly twenty-five years later: “I have driven this car between 55,000 and 60,000 miles. The original engine was rebuilt 40,000 miles ago, the last paint was done in 1999, and the grille and bumper guard were rechromed then as well. I installed an overdrive transmission in 2007 and did the interior seats and headliner in 2009 (door panels and side rear are original). I have given the car running repairs (brakes, etc.) as required and it has always been a good driving ‘go anywhere’ car.”
George’s car was imported into Canada in 1975 by a classic car dealer named Al Webster, who purchased it in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was built at the Ford plant in Norfolk, Virginia, and sold new in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. George has the original bill of sale showing options and a trade-in vehicle. The colour is Green Briar Metallic and when new would have had a light Sea Island Green roof. No restoration has ever been needed, just regular maintenance and keeping it clean.
“The picture you see here,” reports George, “was taken the evening of May 23. I had just removed its cover and backed it out of the
garage. Last time out was October 2011. It started right up like it had been running yesterday. After taking the pictures, I drove it to our Orangeville Cruise Night.”
I told George that Joe Pariselli, now living in Mississauga, had purchased a brand new 1951 Ford Victoria from Hillcrest Motors, a Ford dealer at Bathurst and Vaughan Road in Toronto, for $2750. Imagine my surprise when George told me his father had worked there and drove new cars from the factory
in Windsor to the dealership in Toronto: “They drove down in the morning in a 1950 Ford station wagon with overdrive, taking turns driving, with one of them designated to bring the wagon home. All the other fellows drove new cars from Windsor to Toronto all in one day, with speedometers disconnected, and this was before we had highway 401.”
If the story of your car is published in this column, you will receive a copy of Bill Sherk’s latest book “Old Car Detective Favourite Stories, 1925 to 1965.” To share your stories, email email@example.com or write Bill Sherk, 25 John Street, P.O. Box 255, Leamington, ON N8H 3W2.
Written by Bill Sherk“The Old Car Detective”