Vivid Victoria – a Pleasantly Purple 1956 Victoria Ford Custom
When it comes to custom cars, beauty is often in the eye of the builder. By definition, customs tend to be very personal projects, modified and restyled to reflect the tastes and design senses of their builders and owners. Those changes are not guaranteed to resonate with other enthusiasts and viewers. So, when other people appreciate your custom as much as you do, it affirms that your alterations and enhancements have gone beyond mere personalization and achieved the broader objective of good style. Such is the case with this 1956 Victoria.
The classic Ford is now on its second owner since being built into a very tasteful traditional-style mild custom. “I purchased the car from a friend in Wyoming named Paul Steffey,” says current owner Rusty Izatt. “He did all the work on the car except the interior. I fell in love with the car just after Paul finished it, and after several years of Paul saying ‘no’ and enjoying the car, I was able to talk him out of it, which was not easy.”
What is easy is seeing why the Ford was so appealing to Rusty. It does what a good mild custom should: it enhances the Ford’s original design by smoothing off the extras and accentuating the lines with vibrant color, thoughtful details, and a more streamlined stance. It’s the kind of custom car even “non-custom” people can appreciate.
Paul built the car nearly 20 years ago and incorporated several modern elements that don’t detract from its classic style. Most of those updates are underneath, like the Ridetech air springs that enhance the rebuilt stock suspension and allow for a ground-scraping ride height. Disc brakes were added up front for improved safety, while the 14-inch steel wheels were fitted with Coker radial wide whitewalls and aftermarket four-bar flipper hubcaps.
Things were kept old school under the hood. Paul retained the car’s original 292c.i. Y-block V8, rebuilding it and adding a little extra performance with an Edelbrock intake and triple carbs. Period-style dress-up came in the form of chrome valve covers, louvered air cleaners, and transparent red fuel lines, while a dual exhaust system with Smitty glasspack mufflers provided a nice nostalgic rumble. The engine is backed by the original Ford-O-Matic transmission.
The 1956 Victoria came from the factory with a clean hardtop roofline and distinctive side trim, so the fundamental design was already strong. Paul cleaned things up by shaving the hood, deck lid, door handles, and extra emblems. He also frenched an antenna into the right rear quarter panel and made sure the factory fender skirts fit well. Then he selected a bold two-tone paint combination of PPG Perfect Purple and Galaxie White, which Paul applied himself using the Victoria trim as a natural divider. Period-style pinstriping and blue-dot taillights add a little extra nostalgia flair.
Paul strived to retain the old-school charm inside the Ford, too. The original dash was painted in the same two-tone scheme as the exterior, complete with pinstriping. The stock gauges were retained, while Roy Keith Classics went to town on the original seats, upholstering them in period-style white vinyl with purple tuck ’n roll inserts. Fresh wiring by Paul, a restored original wheel, and a laminated acrylic teardrop shifter handle and radio knobs help complete the ’50s custom vibe.
The completed project perfectly captured the mild street custom look that was so commonly seen on boulevards across the country in the late-’50s and early-’60s. That’s exactly what Paul was going for, and it’s precisely what Rusty appreciates about the car. “I just enjoy going to all the car shows with this Vicky and talking to all the people who admire it,” Rusty says. “The car seems to bring back memories for so many.”
Photos by Todd Ryden