Just the Facts
Year: 1955
Make: Ford
Model: Victoria
Owner: Harvey Belling
State: Arizona

At 76 years old, Harvey Belling estimates he's been involved in the hot rod hobby for 57 years. After getting married to his gal, Leonette, in 1956, he started reading miscellaneous hot rod publications, but was really inspired after seeing a particular hot rod movie in 1957.

The couple was living in Fargo, North Dakota, and they owned a 1955 Mercury Montclair—a two-door hardtop. Though nearly a new car, it had been nosed by the previous owner, but Harvey had added a set of Oldsmobile hubcaps and lowered it a little before adding a set of Smitty mufflers. He couldn't afford to do any more to it, since he and Leonette recently had a child.

But in the movie they watched, there was a 1955 Ford convertible that had been lowered and customized with a glory grille, a pair of spotlights, fender skirts, flipper caps, and it had been nosed and decked. Harvey remembers a lot of local cars in and around Fargo in the 1950s had that mild custom look, while others who drove raked 1957 Chevys were running out to the dragstrip where they'd blow up their motors and get their cars repossessed!

Over the next few decades Harvey would own more cars, but not the customized ones he'd had in his youth. When he was well into his sixties, he had finished up a 1956 Ford pickup (satin black with flames and red steel wheels) and had taken it to a show in Quartzite, Arizona. One gentleman who stopped by to check out the truck struck up a conversation with Harvey, and asked him, "What are you working on now?"

Harvey told him about a desire to find a 1955-57 Ford two-door hardtop, and this guy told him about such a vehicle for sale in Grass Valley, California. Harvey got the seller's phone number, called him up, and made an appointment to see the car.

It looked like it was in pretty good shape, and it drove nice, so Harvey bought it and drove it to his home in Salome, Arizona. In all truth, the paint was good from more than 5 feet away, but Harvey was just going to polish it up and drive it. But when he put it up on the lift, he found rust in the floors and in the rear quarter-panel. He did the rust repair work himself and updated suspension parts (including dropped spindles), but decided to send the car off to the body shop to have more work done and have the car repainted.

At American Built Customs in Phoenix owner Mason Rush oversaw the project, performing the required bodywork while also adding some custom touches (hood nosed, small side trim shaved, trunk trim removed). Rush also painted the car using Axalta (DuPont) products, copying the light blue over darker blue paint scheme the car came in with.

The engine, a stock 272-inch Y-block Ford, was left alone internally, though Varner's Auto & Engine in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, freshened up the heads before a triple Edelbrock 94 carb system was installed. Varner's also addressed the 1955 Ford-O-Matic transmission, and a few performance items (Mallory distributor, Smitty's mufflers, high-efficiency radiator) were bolted on along with chrome valve covers and air cleaners from Speedway Motors.

Once the car was out of the paint booth, it was reassembled with rechromed bumpers and Glory Grill, which Harvey installed. Flipper caps and wide whites wrap the color-coded steel wheels, and the Victoria side trim was polished and reattached.

Inside the car, an underdash piece was added so the stock dash would remain unaltered. Vents for the Classic Auto Air A/C system and the stereo head unit are in the underdash piece, along with a pair of SunPro gauges. A white Grant steering wheel tops the stock column, and matches the white tuck 'n' roll (with blue piping) from Hot Rod Interiors by Glenn stitched up for the stock split-bench front seat and large rear bench seat. Glenn Kramer also laid out classic tuck 'n' roll on the door panels, and the car's interior is brightened by the use of a white headliner, too.

At 76, Harvey is finally happy with the car he's got, and still likes tooling around to different local car shows with his gal, Leonette, by his side.