San Francisco Street Sighting - 1954 Ford Customline Tudor Sedan
Low-budget custom cars are inherently interesting, especially a fully customized cruiser. A proper "kustom" is expensive and labor-intensive, usually left to professional builders with shops full of specialized tools and equipment. It takes lots of planning and design work before the fabrication even begins. It can be done at home in the garage, and even on the cheap if the builder has the know-how and the will to do the work himself.
So what happens to a custom car as it ages? Most show cars never get driven and properly enjoyed. The ones that do eventually suffer the same rock chips, scratches, dents and rust that plague their more ordinary counterparts. Sometimes they evolve over time, being altered further from factory stock or receiving a different paint scheme. Some owners, like the guy who purchased my uncle's '67 Corvette club racer, take a fully modified car and restore it to stock, either for the historical value, looks, or (in his case) the fat profit from unloading the car on the Barrett-Jackson auction circuit.
This '54 Ford Customline Tudor sedan has had a lot done to it. The fact it was built from a midrange two-door sedan rather than a Crestline Victoria hardtop coupe is a clue that it's a low-budget build. Most custom builders want the most loaded coupe or convertible they can get, and the less desirable sedans frequently serve as parts donors. This one has gone through a few phases of modification, if the old yellow paint on the hood is any indication. The fender skirts are questionable but not permanently disfiguring; same with the side pipes. The car appears to have 1955-56 Oldsmobile taillights and a front bumper from a 1957 Cadillac - the latter of which looks like it was the car's most recent addition. The metalwork involved in filling the gap where the 1954 Ford grille used to be is very unfinished. I hope that's just temporary until it can be reworked smooth. More importantly at this point, there is some unfortunate rust-through on the body and doors that needs to be addressed. It's too bad. That looks like it was a fairly good-quality paint and pinstripe job in its day. I'm also curious about the window etching. It reads "Rock & Roll" and depicts a man apparently torturing a jukebox surrounded by fire. What is he holding? A microphone on a stand? Lastly, I'm curious if this Ford has hydraulics or air bags to adjust its ride height. It lives halfway up a very steep hill and it's going to scrape at the top and bottom for sure if it can't be raised up a few inches. Despite its condition (patina?) and perhaps partly because of it, this customized Customline is one of the most unique-looking vehicles in its neighborhood. I hope the owner figures out exactly what he wants to do with it so it can be preserved.
California Streets is a blog that celebrates the history of the automobile in California. We feature old, interesting and often rare cars and trucks found parked on public streets and roads around the state of California.
I'm a delivery driver by trade, but I'm also a freelance artist and hobby photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area with a healthy interest in cars. I love finding and documenting fascinating old cars wherever I go.