The Mecum Collector Car Auction held at State Farm Stadium has come and gone and so has my ‘57 Ford two door Ranch Wagon. I’ve talked about the car several times over the last few years. Ranging from the epic 48 hour nonstop trip to purchase the car, then updates as I had the car built into my ‘57 Ford station wagon dream car. The complete start to finish build took about four years. In my 72 years, I had never built a car like this. Yes, I’ve built several race cars and street/strip cars that were meant for exactly that; street cruising and drag strip racing. Those cars were never fancy or nice. They were built basically for drag racing with very little street use except to drive to the race track. The ‘57 Ford was built strictly as a street cruiser with no intention to drag race it, which l never did. I had the attitude that I’m building my dream car the way I want it and it’s gonna cost money to do it right. I sold the original 312 V-8 and 3 speed manual transmission for $1300. That $1300 was the last time there would be anything positive money-wise related to the Ford. I wrote checks right and left to get it built to my design… as if I had lots of money. Having never built a car like this before, I had no experience on how fast the money would fly out of my bank account, I just wanted to build my dream car.

The cornerstone of the build was a Tempe Speed & Performance (480- 921-4170) installed 430 horsepower GM 6.2 liter LS3 V-8 mated to a Ken’s Transmission (602-867- 3354) performance built automatic overdrive transmission. The Fatman Fabrication front suspension upgrade and Borgeson power steering along with an IDIDIT tilt steering column were installed at Vintage Iron & Restoration (480- 922-2480). The complete Vintage Air Gen 4 heat and A/C system alone cost $4400. In hindsight, it seems like problems started the day I sold the original engine and transmission. Over the last few years despite very limited driving, that Ford left me stranded on the side of the road at least 5-6 times. It was the fuel system, computer system and one time it was the brakes not properly releasing. I have to admit, that I grew to hate the car, but it needed to be finished if there was any hope of selling it for enough to recoup some of my build expenses. So, a brand new custom interior and custom two tone paint job sucked up $11,000 more. The paint job took six months and when l brought the car home Icould see that it looked great from 20 feet, but was full of flaws up close. Those flaws would never allow the car to sell for decent money, but there was no way l could afford to take it to a professional painter like my friend Lucky Luciano. This was summer of 2022 and my best friend and cousin Ed Gilbert from Oregon said he would take the car and either repair the paint job or completely repaint it. The car got to Ed’s in late July after sitting in a trailer for 6 weeks waiting for the shipper’s truck to be repaired. Are you seeing a pattern here? Problem after problem related to the car. Then in November a true tragedy happened, my cousin Ed suffered a heart attack and died 24 hours later. The sadness of that event is still with me, I miss Ed every day.

The Ford was not even close to being finished but obviously had to come back to Arizona and the now partially sanded paint job had to be finished. I’ve painted close to a dozen vehicles over the last 5-7 years, but had never tried to do a custom paint job, this Ford was my first attempt. After I finished the sanding prep, I gave it two coats of white basecoat and only two coats of clearcoat. Not enough paint or clearcoat and it burned through to the darker colors with just simple wet sanding. So, I sanded it down again and this time gave it three coats of single-stage white (no clearcoat). After wet sanding and buffing, the Ford was shiny white and in my eyes looked pretty darn good. Then all of the exterior trim and interior pieces still had to be installed; another job I had never done before. Over a 2-3 week period I struggled and cussed in trying to put the car back together in time to sell at the Mecum auction at the end of March. Somehow some way the car got there on time. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the absolute best I could do without professional help. I allowed myself to think of the possibility that it could sell for something close to what l had invested into the car, but in reality, I knew that it wouldn’t, it simply wasn’t good enough, despite all of the great features it has. In the end l was right, it sold for exactly half of my $52,000 reserve price. With all of the problems and heartaches, this car brought me, especially in the last 12 months, I am so glad it’s sold and out of my life. Sometimes you just have to let go and lick your wounds and hope that you learned some lessons and gained some experience.

BTW, it’s time to get your Hot Rods and daily driver vehicles ready for the long, hot summer!