Ron Courtney's 1951 Ford
1951 Ford owned and restyled by Ron Courtney of McMinnville, Oregon. Ron began the restyling in 1954. He did not want to build a custom, but rather redesign the car the way he wanted it to look. He sectioned the body 5 inches. The trunk was sectioned as well, and the hood was pancaked. The body was nosed, decked and shaved for door handles and exterior trim. The wheelwells were radiused and the front fenders were modified to accept the 1956 Oldsmobile headlights. Ron completely hand formed a new grille that was fit with a homemade grillebar and bullets. The car was also fit with radical handmade fins that housed a pair of custom made taillights. Scoops were incorporated in the body in the leading edges of the fins, right behind the doors. The original Flathead V-8 was swapped for a 1955 Chevrolet 265 Chevrolet engine that had been fit with a McCulloch supercharger and Powerglide transmission. The interior was upholstered in red and white by Stan Jones of Stylecraft. The seats were done in white and red, while the carpets were red and the headliner was done in white trimmed with red beading. The body was painted bright red. The X-51 hit the streets of McMinnville in 1956, the car stood out in the crowd as an unique build and was featured in several magazines. According to Dick Page, Ron drove the car nearly every day during the build, and someone once told Dick that they once saw the car on the road with only one fin. In 1957, the car was shown at the Portland Roadster Show where it took home the Sweepstakes Award, the People's Choice, First in Class and Best Custom trophies.
Rod & Custom Cover Car
Sold to Bill Robinson
In 1959 Ron sold the car to a Bill Robinson who used the car regularly. The car was advertised for sale at $3,995. Original value according to the ad was $8,500. The new owner was involved in a traffic accident with the car and smashed up the right rear quarter panel quite bad. He took it back to Courtney to rebuild it, after this, the car disappeared from the custom scene.
Re-Discovered and Restored by John Corno
In the early seventies, the X-51 was re-discovered. By then it was in a sad shape. John Corno of Portland, Oregon bought the car in 1974 with a caved-in trunk, stripped engine and no wheels. John restored the car back to its former glory. David Kane replaced the 265 Chevy engine with a 351-W Ford mill with a C-4 transmission. He also updated the car with power brakes and power steering. Stan Jones of Stylecraft re-upholstered the interior much the same way as he did the first time.
Sold to the Harrah Collection
After a couple of years John sold it to the Harrah Collection at National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. The car changed hands several times, and at one point it fell off a ramp, as a result the front frame got tweaked.
Sold to Bob Page
John got hold of the car once again and sold it to Bob Page of Sheldon, California in 1986. According to Bob, it looked good, but was not safe to drive. By the time Bob bought it, several items had also been changed, and the Zolotoned chassis and engine compartment was far from detailed. After attempting several fixes, Bob brought the car over to Lee Norene of Lee's Vintage Cars in West Sacramento, California to have it restored. A Nova subframe was installed to make it drivable. Power steering and disc brakes were installed as well to increase driving performance. The Ford 351 Cleveland engine was changed in favor of a balanced 350 Chevrolet small block with a Turbo 350 transmission and a Mustang rear end. Lee repaired the engine compartment by building a new firewall and inner fenders. The interior was brought back to how it looked like in 1958 and the red 1979 Alfa Romeo paint was spotted in where necessary. Once on a trip to Washington, he stopped by Courtney's house in McMinnville and took him for a ride.
Sold to Chuck Lawrence
In 2016 Rene Page advertised the car for sale. At the time it was in excellent condition. It drove good and it came with an extensive memorabilia collection. Offered for sale at Specialty Sales Classics in Fairfield, California the asking price was $84.900. In January of 2019, the car was sold to Chuck Lawrence of Camas, Washington.
Back to Portland
Chuck Lawrence passed away shortly after buying the car, and Rodney Hardison of Portland, Oregon ended up buying the car from Chuck's daughter. Rodney knew the car well. His family is good friends with John Corno and he grew up around the car. "I thought the car was gone forever again, and then low and behold Chuck's daughter and grandson live in Portland, and that's where it ended up," Rodney told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in 2020. "I'm so proud to be its caretaker."
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