Art Fortin's 1953 Ford

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Art with his in-progress custom. Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
A white top was installed in time for Art's first show with the car. The top was never folded down as Art didn't want to wrinkle it. Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.
Photo courtesy of Art Fortin.

1953 Ford Sunliner Convertible owned and restyled by Art Fortin of Adams, Massachusetts. The Sunliner was Art's first car, and he got it at age 14 in 1960, as a gift from his parents. The car was restyled during Art's sophomore and junior high school years, and he began customizing the convertible shortly after he got it. Up front, the hood was shaved for ornamentation, and the corners were rounded. The headlights were frenched in, and the stock grille was replaced by a 1955 DeSoto grille bar. The front bumper was removed and replaced with a lower front 1953 Studebaker pan that Art molded in and fit with a license-plate housing and 14 chromed bullets. The rear fenders were extended and fit with large boomerang shaped taillights made from 1956 Packard Clipper taillight lenses. Art bought the lenses new from the local Studebaker/Packard dealer, and he had to use two per side with the lower ones inverted. The deck lid was shaved for chrome before Art rounded the corners. The rear bumper was removed as well, and replaced by a molded in pan that Art dressed up with a pair of nerf bars. A license plate housing was molded onto the rear pan. A bead that ran from the center of the deck-lid was molded on to the housing. Four exhaust pipes extruded out from underneath the rear pan. The door handles were shaved away along with some of the side trim, and sidepipes were molded in along the bodysides. Massive scoops were cut into the quarter panels in front of the rear wheels. The body was lowered more up front, and it hade a rake very popular for its time. A stock 1962 GM lavenderish burgundy paint job, white wall tires and chromed and reversed wheels wrapped up the style. After two years of hard work, the build was completed in 1962. Art's parents were very supportive during build, and with good help from key people mentoring him, the car turned out to be a real head turner. One of the mentors was a handy man that helped Art convert the Fordomatic to a stick. Another mentor was a local body man that worked for a dealership. He did side work at home during his off time as well, and he did all the metalwork on the car. Art worked along with the bogyman, and once he had completed the metal work, Art finished off the bodywork before he did the final paint. A third person helped Art install a 283 Chevrolet engine. At the time the car was built, Art hang around kids that were a little older than him. The older kids had the cool cars, and they were the ones that Art wanted to be with. Art's Ford was built to look like the cars he saw in the magazines from California. A white top was installed in time for Art's first show with the car. The top was never folded down as Art didn't want to wrinkle it.[1]


By the time the Ford was done, trends were changing, and performance cars were coming into vogue. Big bodied muscle cars were coming out of Detroit, and customs seemed on their way out. By the middle of his senior year of high school, after driving the car for about he sold it off and replaced it with a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette. The Ford disappeared from the local scene shortly after that. The new owner was not found of the color Art had chosen for the car, so he stripped it down to the metal with a grinder. After it had been stripped down to the metal, it It sat outside in bare metal until it had rusted up pretty bad. The car was later spotted in a barn in the late 1960s, looking pretty bad.[2]


References



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