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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.

Tim Sykes
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.







Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

4 thoughts on “Well traveled Starbird Custom

  • Wow! I love articles like this; seeing customs when they were getting older and beat up and basically being used as regular cars. It’s sad to see them in that condition, but it’s really fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’ve always liked this car.

  • Thanks for the story Tim! When you were discussing the car with Daryll, did he mention making the changes out back and repainting the car in the orange pearl? Of course I doubt the black areas were done in the Starbird shop, but an upgrade in colour and some small mods would fit with another go-round of indoor car shows.


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