WELL TRAVELED STARBIRD CUSTOM
Tim Sykes from Ontario Canada send this neat story on a well driven Starbird Custom ’55 Ford.
I was visiting Sauble Beach, a beach resort town here in Canada along the coast of Lake Huron back in 1979. The biggest attraction is the 9 miles of beach that you can drive your car on. Near the downtown parking area directly on the beach, I came across this car that I had seen in the magazines from the 1960’s. I recognized it as a car built by Darryl Starbird, and was amazed that it was here in Canada. At the time, the car was parked and the owners were nowhere around. I ran back to where my friends were, and asked my buddy’s girlfriend if I could borrow her instamatic camera that she had with her. I took these 4 pictures of the car and waited for a half hour, hoping the owners would come back to the car so I could ask them questions about it. I never did meet them, but was very glad that I had taken the photos when I did.
The pictures are of a Starbird custom that was built from a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria. Starbird had customized the front, extending the fenders and using what look like Riviera headlights. The rear fenders were also extended and a unique taillight arrangement was hand built. Front and rear wheelwells were radiused and flared. The hood and trucklid were shaved, and a custom plate surround was built into the trunklid. Round rod was used to replace the bulky rear bumper.
Now, when I saw the car in 1979, it was starting to look a little rough around the edges and in need of a full restoration. I did admire the fact the the owners were not afraid to drive the car. The old custom had Florida plates on it, which totally surprised me. This old custom was a long way from home! The car featured a faded orange pearl paint, with flat black accents that seemed to cover up some work that had been done on the car over the years. The trunk had stick-on letters on each side of the licence plate surround, with the words Tom, Cat, Bobby & Buddy, and the slogan Having Fun as Usual. The original custom interior was still in the car when I saw it, and I wish I had taken pictures of it. I seem to recall that it was off-white pearl in colour and was spectacular in style. Another indicator that the owners were totally enjoying the use of the car was the fact that even though this wonderful old custom car was still fairly original and very much operational, with many spectactular original 1960’s features, wet beach towels were lying over the back of the front seats and balled up on the back seat.
In 1985, I went to the Leadsled Spectacular custom car show in Springfield, Ohio, knowing Darryl Starbird would be there. I found him walking around the fairgrounds, looking at the cars and enjoying the show. After introducing myself, and to my great pleasure, we ended up talking about cars for several hours. I told him about the pictures of the ’56 and he was eager to see them. He seemed surprised but pleased that the car still existed. I remember him commenting about the car having Florida “tags”. He told me about the differences with the car since he had built it and how it looked in the pictures. It was a fascinating conversation indeed.
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
This is how “the Majestic” 1955 Ford looked like in the late 1960’s. These photos were found on the Carnut website.