Car: Ford Fairlane Victoria Hardtop
What makes it special: The Ford line of cars gained a new body beginning with 1955 to keep up with the surging Chevrolet. The 1955 Fords were marketed under separate names for each of the three trim levels: Ford Mainline, Ford Customline and Ford Fairlane. The eggcrate grille featured on the 1955 cars was widened into a series of rectangles for 1956, but this subtle exterior change was nothing compared to Ford’s adoption of a 12-volt electrical system across the line. There were new convenience options, such as a new air-conditioner system, a new heater, and a nine-tube signal-seeking radio. Instead of gauges, instrument cluster warning lights for oil pressure and ammeter were standard.
What made it famous: Ford also began selling “Lifeguard Design” safety features, equipping all models with dished steering wheel, breakaway rearview mirror, and crashproof door locks, padded dash and sunvisors cost extra, as did factory-installed seatbelts. Victoria hardtop coupes now adopted the lower, sleeker roofline used by both 1955 and 1956 Crown Victoria, sans the wide chrome roof trim. Engine choices consisted of the 272 V8 delivering 173 horsepower. A new 312 cid “Thunderbird” unit with 215/225 horsepower was optional across the board, and a midrange 292 cid V8 offered 200 horsepower.
Why I would want one: Absolutely the best-looking body style of the 1950 era Fords. Love the wraparound windshield, moderate use of chrome and potent engine options.
Fun fact: Buyers When it came to the seatbelt options, buyers responded early in the model year, but the rush to seat-belts overtaxed Ford’s supplier, so only 20 percent of the 1956’s got them