In 2011, a friend of mine told me about a 1953 Ford Crestline Sunliner Convertible. The original owner, June Grajeda, a long time Yakima, WA resident, was preparing to sell it. The car had been sitting out in the weather for over 40 years with only a rotted tarp laying over it for protection. It was unique in that the 1953 Ford Crestline was actually used as an Indy Pace car in 1953. After looking it over, I figured that it was about 90% intact. As I had always dreamed of having a convertible, I decided to make the purchase. After 58 years, it’s rare to find such an unusual automobile in the hands of the original owner.
In 2012, I began coordinating a full frame off restoration, which involved ordering many parts from areas all over the U.S. The V-8 Times classified section was one of my great resources for the project.
My objective with this restoration was to use only original 1953 parts. It has the Carnival red exterior paint matched to original specs, LeBaron Bonney custom upholstery to match the original, the original EAB flathead engine, and 710-15 Coker wide whitewall tires and accessories. It includes the three options that were available in 1953: A Fordomatic transmission, power top, and power steering. The Pace car accessories included are as follows: Steering wheel, spotlights, and additional stainless steel trim. The Ford accessories are a bird hood ornament, emblem trim, door trim, and a rear fender antenna. The engine was rewired with cloth covered wiring, and new body panels were designed and fabricated to replace the badly rust- damaged original ones.
After three years of hard work, with many frustrating days, my project was finally completed in August of 2015. I can proudly say that I am one of the few owners of an originally restored 1953 Ford Crestline convertible - and I now have the convertible that I dreamed about!