By Ken Peters
It’s one of those cars that makes you smile when you see it. It’s not a hot rod, it’s not a luxury ride, but it is a perfect example of what average income earners bought when they shopped for a new car in 1956.
It’s a 1956 Ford Fairlane, two-door coupe, in beautiful Peacock Blue and Colonial White, a wildly popular color for Ford during 1955 and 1956. The two-tone scheme, with Peacock Blue on the top and bottom, offset by Colonial White in the middle, with Ford’s unique, but bold chrome piece sweeping along the side and up to the top of the front fenders, is a classic today. But the thing is, it was an instant classic in 1956.
Ford and Chevy captured the public’s imagination sales-wise during the mid-’50s years, and were locked in a fierce battle for customers. When all was said-and-done many people believed and still do today, that Chevy outsold Ford that year. But the truth is Ford sold 142,629 Fairlane two-door coupes, while Chevy sold 105,098 two-door Bel Air coupes, the comparable car to Ford’s Fairlane two-door coupe. A two-door coupe, by the way, is commonly called a ‘post car’ today.
But Chevy marched on to outsell Ford in total production for 1956, 1,626,843 to 1,392,037. In 1957 it was a decidedly, but confusing different year. Chevy outsold Ford by 130 cars, although 7,359 of those cars were leftover 1956 models sold during 1957.
In any event, the Zimmermans are happy with their Ford Fairlane, a car they bought from a private owner in North Syracuse, in pretty much the condition it’s in today.
“I saw an ad for the car and went and looked at it,” Marv said. “I wasn’t looking for a specific car, just a nice car to drive.”
The Ford is a nice car to drive. Although it doesn’t have power steering or power brakes, it’s large and comfortable. With 74,000 original miles on the odometer, the Zimmermans.
The interior was replaced somewhere along the line, and while the material isn’t authentic, it is in the correct color for the car’s exterior. The bright work was sent out for chroming sometime in the not-too-distant past, but the car’s finish is older, although it’s nice.
Marv said he’s always been interested in cars because his father “had a lot of cars.”
The previous owner did some work on the car, and Susan and Marv indicated they may do a few things to the car to upgrade its overall condition.
1956 Ford Fairlane two-door
- Owners: Susan, Marv Zimmerman, Tully, N.Y.
- Cost new: $2,047
- Color: Peacock Blue/Colonial White
- Equipment: Ford-O-Matic 3-speed transmission; AM radio; heater
- Engine: 292 cubic inch V-8, 202-hp
- Ford Fairlane two-door production 1956: 142,629
- Total Ford production 1956: 1,392,037
- 1956 house price: $22,000
- Average income: $4,454
- Gallon of milk: 97 cents
- Gallon of gas: 23 cents
- Loaf of bread: 18 cents
- U.S. postage stamp: 3 cents
- Dozen eggs: 45 cents
- Rheingold 6-pack: $1.20
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