It was July of 1955.
My Uncle George bought his wife a new car, a red and white 55 Ford Sunliner.
Uncle George and my father were good friends, and some of my earliest memories are of riding around in Dad's 51 Chevy convertible, which is how I became a convertible junkie (I've owned at least one convertible since 1973). I remember Uncle George driving the Ford to many family get togethers at my Grandparents in the fifties and early sixties (only if the weather was nice). Since my Aunt and Uncle lived close to the stores, church and schools, the Ford was an occasional car and was used mostly for pleasure, as Uncle George had a company car at his disposal. So, why use your own car, when you can drive for free?
Fast forward to 1968. We had moved from Arizona to Ohio and were staying on my Grandmother's farm for the summer. Uncle George had just bought Aunt Ruth a new car, and loaned Dad the 55 Ford. Boy, I can remember many evenings driving around the countryside with the top down, myself and my three brothers in the back seat, Mom and Dad and my sister in front. What fun! I was already a convertible guy as was my Dad. In Arizona we had a 1940 Lincoln Continental cabriolet that we all enjoyed riding around in, and the Ford was just as much fun.
I can still remember talking my Uncle into keeping the old Ford, and in retrospect probably did Dad a disservice as I'm sure if Uncle George was thinking of selling it, Dad would have bought it! In any event, my Uncle kept the car and stored it down at the company. It would see occasional summertime use and latterly, as I got my license, I was able to borrow it on occasion. I always made sure to bring it back in better shape than when I picked it up. One time, I installed portawalls on the tires to get the wide whitewall look, those skinny whitewalls just didn't look right.
For the next 30 or so years, whenever I returned to Ohio, my Uncle would make the car available to me for use while I in town. I think during this time, I was likely the driver who added the most miles to the car..... When I got married in 1979 we used the Ford as our wedding car.
Eventually, my Uncle became bedridden, and whenever I would visit, I'd ask him if he was ready to sell the old Ford. He would always answer that he wasn't finished with it, and my stock response was that I can wait. A few years ago my Uncle passed away and I had the remote hope that maybe I would get the Ford in his will.
Didn't happen. The car was a part of the estate and it was appraised to establish it's value. Far more than I could afford, so I figured it just wasn't meant to be, oh well. A year or so after that I ran across another car I had been wanting for years, and bought a 94 Mercedes E320 cabriolet using some of the money that I had set aside for the Ford figuring that this Ford wasn't in my future.
Then my cousin calls me. Wants to know if I want the Ford. I tell him that I cannot match the appraisal on the car, and he says don't worry about it, what can you afford? Before I can even answer that question, he lobs out a price that I could afford, even after just getting the Benz. So, off I went to Ohio with my truck and trailer to pick up the Ford.
Finally, I had the car I wanted after all those decades! I enjoy going out and just looking at the car, it reminds of the times when I was courting my wife, and also generates warm feelings about my Uncle and his friendship with my Dad. Also the Ford is a tangible link to my cousins, and the generosity of one in particular who knew that "Dad wanted you to have his car."
She's a keeper, and last year when I was diagnosed with cancer and decided to reduce the fleet, I sold my 64 Lincoln Continental convertible that I had owned for 40 years instead of the Ford. Of course I also gave a nice family deal to another cousin who now has my 64 Lincoln garaged next to Dad's 40 Lincoln Continental that we enjoyed as children.
It's pretty cool to have THE car you remember as a kid, as opposed to having a car similar to the one you remember.
Did I mention that I love the 55 Ford? My wife does too. I've put a few thousand on the car since I got, she's just rolled over 50k miles, and is original except for one repaint years ago and a top that was replaced in 1974. I'm often asked if it's for sale. No way, it took me decades to get it!