Ron Volpe's 1957 Ford Convertible
1957 Ford owned by Illinois Valley Mis-Fires member Ron Volpe of La Salle, Illinois. Ron bought the Ford after selling a customized 1951 Mercury that he built while he was a senior in high school. After much teasing from his buddies for driving a stocker, he decided to turn the Ford into a custom. Between the years 1960 and 1963, he took the car through five different stages. Known as the "Red Robin II," it went trough four different paint jobs, two interiors, and numerous body modifications.
Version 1 - Titian Red
The first iteration of Ron's Ford featured a tubular grille and 1956 Ford F-100 pick-up headlight rings. It was nosed, decked, lowered and dressed up with dual spotlights, lakes pipes, Cal Custom taillights, and Thunderbird hubcaps. The interior was stock, and it ran a 1954 Buick "Titian Red" lacquer.
Version 2 - Split Bumpers
In 1961, a second iteration of Ron's Ford was modified to accept a 1959 Plymouth lower valance panel and split 1955 Pontiac bumpers up front. A new grille made from expanded metal mesh and two chromed exhaust tubing bars with Lucite parking lights at the ends were also installed. The Thunderbird hubcaps were now scrapped in favor of Metalflaked rims with Cal Custom spiders. This iteration did also run a custom rolled and pleated interior by Potter's Auto Trim shop in Peru, Illinois. Potter also replaced the stock black convertible top with a pearl white Naugahyde top.
Version 3 - Quad Headlights
The third iteration of Ron's Ford received 1958 Ford quad headlights. Derby Custom Shop in LaSalle was responsible for most of the body modifications. Potter's Auto Trim upholstered the trunk of this version to match the interior for show points. Ron kept the stock Y-Block 292ci mill and three-speed manual transmission, but he dressed the engine up with lots of chrome goodies.
Version 4 - The Golden Eclipse
In 1962, Ron debuted the Golden Eclipse version of the car. By then, the front Pontiac split bumpers were removed and replaced with a 1953 Studebaker pan that housed a functional air scoop. The rear bumper was also removed, and the back of the car had been given a treatment similar to the font with a rolled pan and a chromed tube bar. The taillights on this version were molded and fitted with a chrome inner ring. The tips from 1959 Cadillac lenses were mated to 1962 Mercury chrome bezels. The color was a custom mix lacquer made from a 1957 DeSoto Indy pace car. It was dressed up with chromed and reversed rims with thin whitewall tires. This version took a trophy at the 1962 National Champion Custom Car Shows that was held during the NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana, and it gained national recognition when it was featured on the cover of Rod & Custom December 1962.
Version 5 - Radiused Wheel Wells
In 1963, the car was redone, receiving radiused rear wheel wells, and an asymmetrical hood scoop. The fins on this iteration were also shortened, and the interior received 1962 Ford Thunderbird bucket seats. The steering wheel was cut down aircraft-style before the exterior was refinished in translucent red lacquer with silver fogging. The car was shown once in this version before Ron got engaged to be married, and he sold it to a used car dealer in Princeton, Illinois in July of 1963.
Where is it Now?
Ron never saw his custom again, but according to Richard "Fuzzy" Fuerholzer, it was sold to a fellow from Ohio, "possibly Dayton." In April of 2022 Ron was still looking for his old custom? Do you know what happened to it? Or where it is today? Please get in touch with Kustomrama at email@example.com if you have any info to share about Ron's old Illinois custom.
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