Bob LaCavera: Wheels Reader
Occupation: Retired transit driver
The Car: 1956 Meteor Niagara 4-Door Sedan
It all started in June 2006 when the Meteor’s previous owner, a friend of mine, was searching for a car to replace a 1955 Chevrolet he sold.
Scouring Kijiji classic car ads on the internet, four piqued his interest, so we took a day trip to view the cars. The first three looked good on a computer screen but seeing them up close was another story, as they required a lot of work to get them up to our standards. Disappointed with those, we hoped the last car would be the one. Off we went to Stratford to check out the final car of the day.
Pulling onto the street we saw a shiny green and white 1956 Meteor Niagara in a driveway. As we came to a stop I said: “Now that’s a car.”
We got the low down on its history before taking a test drive. I looked at every part of the car — even underneath. It was clean, almost spotless, with minor oil leaks from the engine and rear end gasket. The owner said a full restoration was done in 1984, at 62,400 miles. In the 22 years since then only 9,200 miles were logged, as the odometer showed 71,600 miles when we saw it that day.
After the test drive I thought: “He’s got to get it. It’s the best one of the day!” My friend wanted to bring his wife to look at it before buying, so the next day he went back with her and their son and they brought the car home that day.
Fast forward to March 2017. My friend decided to sell his ‘56 Meteor, as his health wasn’t the best and he’d lost interest in it. I made an offer I thought was fair, knowing it would need some repairs from sitting over the years, and he accepted it.
It took a week to get plates, safety certification and insurance before I could drive it home the next weekend. Looking at the undercarriage when it was on the hoist at my local garage I noticed the floor and trunk looked like the car had just come from the factory — no patches anywhere. I didn’t think this car was ever winter driven.
Some minor rust spots were covered over with paint along the bottom edges of the doors and fenders. Whoever did the restoration hadn’t done a proper job. The panels were not cleaned well before painting, causing blistering, but the corrosion wasn’t that severe.
The car came with some spare parts and the original owner’s manual. The warranty card registration matched the engine, transmission, keys and VIN plate that came with the first owner’s information package, registered to a woman in Barrie, who bought it from a local Ford dealer August 27, 1956. On the back page of the manual she documented the mileage and service record of what had been done over the years.
Ford of Canada’s production database shows 1956 Meteors came with V8 engines but this one has the “delete option” 223 c.i. 6-cylinder motor. Only 1,805 were made that year and it was the first year Ford used a 12 volt electrical system in their vehicles. I am the eighth owner of this car and all the previous owners were in Ontario.
She runs well and the suspension is very smooth for a 61-year-old girl, although the manual steering can be a challenge at times. Power steering has spoiled us.
When the roads are dry I try to drive it several days a week on little trips around the GTA and the Stouffville and Uxbridge area. The two-tone ‘50s colour combination attracts a lot of attention from people wherever I go.
And now I’m looking forward to the start of the “Cruise Season.”
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