Frank and Charles Gilardone's 1953 Ford
1953 Ford Victoria restyled by Clarkaiser Custom Shop for Frank and Charles Gilardone. Clarkaiser fit the car with a unique 1953 Ford Meteor grille assembly. The headlights were frenched and modified with handmade sheet-metal shades. Teeth from the upper bumper of a 1953 Mercury were installed inside the scoop in the hood. The front bumper was relieved of all trim. The taillight shades were also hand formed out of sheet metal. The rear license plate was inset into the rear deck panel. For a smooth look, the bumper guards were removed from the rear bumper. The top on the car was chopped 2 1/2 inches. The restyling took place around 1953-1954. In 1955 the car was exhibited at Ford's own rod and kustom show at the Rotunda auditorium in Dearborn, Michigan.This version of the car was painted black. The car was also shown at the Rotunda in 1956. By then it had been painted silver.
Bob Lange remembers his dad bringing the old custom home to him in Sterling Heights, Michigan in 1976. "We got the car in Detroit. It sat for a long time in a barn style garage" Bob told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2020. Bob believed the garage was by 6 Mile and Van Dyke, not far away from Apolo Auto Parts. "If I remember correctly, Pete, the owner, was a very close friend of my dad's, and it was he who told him about it." Bob recalled the car having a flathead with egg nut caps on the head bolts and intake bolts, the motor was red and it ran a three-speed stick on the column. Painted in a gray primer, the dash was silver and the interior was white rolled with black lacing. Bob believes Stan Yea did the interior originally. "I worked on the car as a dumb kid," he admitted, adding that he dumped the clutch and blew the tranny. The taillight houses were cans, and Bob got several tickets for the taillight because the police stated that the 6-volt system was not bright enough. Paul "Skip" Dubenspeck taught Bob how to lead on this car, and he remembers that he patched the floorboard with Michigan license plates. Bob eventually traded the car for a Metalflake blue 1951 Ford Victoria. The Victoria had been hit in the back, so it had a tan trunk lid.
In 1975 Karl Gilewicz of Harper Woods, Michigan bought the car from a guy that lived far out on the 8 mile road in Detroit, Michigan. The old custom had been painted in gray primer, but it was still in its original custom configuration. It still had the stock Flathead V8 with a 3-speed manual transmission, and all of the chrome for the car was there with exception of the 1953 Ford Meteor grille. It still had the spotlights on, but the fenderskirts were missing. The doors were opened by solenoids, and as far as Karl could determine, the interior was still the original custom interior. The dash was original and unmodified but painted in a sort of gunmetal gray as he could recall. Thinking back, Karl believes the front and back seats were done in either two-tone dark blue and white or black and white rolls and pleats. The headliner was white with black piping. Karl was 18 years old at the time and bought the car for $850.00. As the car would not stay running, Karl had to tow the old custom back home. He got the car running, and drove it around as weather permitted for about three years. Around 1979, he sold the car to a guy from Pontiac, Michigan.
After selling the car, Karl saw his old Clarkaiser custom advertised for sale around 1988. It was listed in Detroit News, and Karl called the current owner. The seller was asking $10,000 for the car, and by then it had been fit with a continental spare and a late model V8. In 1991 Rick Hines bought the car from a dealer in Jackson, Michigan. The car dealer had gotten it from another dealer in Detroit. By then it had been painted black and received a new grille treatment. The chrome trim was removed from the hood scoop. Rick later heard that the car had been sitting next to an old gas station for about 10 years before it was restored to its current condition. After installing new brakes, fuel pump, radiator and battery the car was back on the road again. Rick drove the old custom around for about 2 years before he put it in storage in a barn for about 15 years. November 2007 Rick advertised the car for sale. The asking price then was 25 000 USD.
In 2013 the Victoria was owned by Mikey Miranda of Bloomfield, New Jersey. While Mikey owned the car, it was featured as one of the historic customs at the first Customs by the Sea car show in Wildwood, New Jersey. In December of 2014 Mikey advertised the car for sale on eBay.
Car Craft August 1955
Car Craft November 1956
Car Craft December 1956
Car Craft March 1957
Custom Cars September 1957
Car Craft April 1958
Custom Cars August 1958
Trend Book 143 Restyle Your Car
Kustoms Illustrated 41
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