'56 Ford

Anyone who was raised up in the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties loves cars. Those who were young teenagers in the fifties have a particular affinity for the great cars of that era. I remember the time when Frank Hogan, the sales manage of the Ford place in Tifton, told my Dad and I that when the first Ford Mustang arrived at the dealership, we would be the first to ride in one in Tifton. Sure enough, he called our furniture store one day and told us that if we would come to the Ford place, we would get that first ride. He had just received only one of the iconic cars and wanted to hold good on his promise. So, we hurried out to the Ford dealership and sure enough; there it was! Man.....what a beauty of a car! It was red on the bottom with a white top. Frank Hogan, my father, me and my brother Bob all got into the car and Frank rode us all over Tifton. It was a show stopper! Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at the new Mustang as we drove through downtown Tifton. They had been hearing about its arrival for weeks and now there it was in all its glory and my father and brother and I were the first ones to ride in one! It felt like we were in a parade or something.

But there were other cars that have achieved iconic stature. The '55 Chevrolet, the '55 Thunderbird along with the Chevrolet Corvette. The '55 Ford and the '57 Ford were also born in the same era. Then there was the iconic '57 Chevrolet. It was a good time for the car lover. And, we are still addicted to those cars. In 1962, I purchased a 1956 Ford which was almost identical to the '55. It had been totally restored to better-than-new condition. Perfect!! People looked at it wherever I went. My '56 Ford was white with a blue interior. It had an engine which had been "tweaked" with a cam and produced a lot more horsepower. It was mean looking in that it was lowered in the back with fender skirts and dual exhausts. In addition, this mean machine had "hollywood" mufflers which produced a round, warm rumbling sound when cruising and they sounded like shotguns when I kicked the car into passing gear. It would come out of passing gear at 90 mph and would squeal the tires when it did. Fast car! Really fast! It was dangerous in that it was so fast that it would tempt a person to take chances when passing cars because you knew you had the power to make the pass safely. The only problem with hitting the passing gear is that the "shotguns" started going off and it would scare people out of their wits for a moment as you sped by. I didn't like to do that.

It's a million wonders that I made it out alive after owning that car for about three years. We didn't have radial tires in those days. Four ply nylon or polyester tires were the best we had in the early sixties. They rode smoothly but were not build for high speed which my car did experience occasionally. It was really fun to own that car! Many was the time when someone wanted to look under the hood at the engine. It had a lot of chrome on it and I always kept it clean and shiny. There were faster cars cruising the streets and roads but this particular '56 Ford was mine and that made it the prettiest and fastest of all. However, I knew its capacities and dangers and was very careful with it. It was one of the best and prettiest cars I ever owned and it earned an exalted place in my memory.

So, for those who came along in the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties, you will always be a "car person." The cars had a design that was immediately recognized from afar. It was not like today when so many different makes look almost identical especially from a distance. Since those days, I have owned many different cars but none were as much fun to drive and own as my '56 Ford.

William F. Harrell

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