BY MIKE BERRY
JULY 27, 2017 4:41 PM
DERBY – “I was really looking for a Victoria, but I settled for a Crown Victoria,” says Del Wharton, describing his quest to recapture some of his high school days.
“When I was in high school in Bell Plaine, there was this guy who had a black ’56 straight Victoria. That car would go by and it had Walkers or Smittys on it. It was one beautiful machine. I used to sit in class and doodle pictures of that car,” he said.
He dreamed of owning such a car … someday.
After raising five children and retiring from a career as a real estate appraiser, Wharton decided it was finally time to make that dream come true. He started searching for a black 1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria.
“I researched and searched for months. I went out of state looking for them. But the things I’ve seen, I wouldn’t want parked in my driveway. Most of them were all rusted out,” he said.
“Having been an appraiser, I know my stuff and none of this was my kind of quality.”
Finally, in March, he saw something that caught his eye, and held it.
It was a beautifully restored Fiesta Red 1956 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria located in Silverthorn, Colo.
The car was well-documented, having been originally assembled at a Ford plant in Dallas.
“It was way priced high,” Wharton said, but he knew it was the quality that he was after.
“It had been rebuilt 10 years ago after the guy bought it, but he drove it very little. It has only 1,500 miles on the engine and transmission . He put a leather and cloth interior in it, over $7,000 worth of leather.
“But then the old boy got sickly and wasn’t able to drive it for a long time and he passed away. I bought it off of his son. I had been looking for over a year at that point.”
The white leather and orange brocade interior replaced the factory vinyl material, but maintained the factory upholstery pattern and looks as good as the day it was installed.
“It’s rust-free underneath … there’s even original paint under there,” Wharton notes.
The restoration done 10 years ago was what Wharton refers to as a “chrome-off” restoration, with a complete repaint in a color most see as orange, but is a correct Ford red. And there is an abundance of chrome on a ’56 Crown Vic, as the cars are lovingly referred to by enthusiasts.