Hilton Vail's 1957 Ford

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A photo of Hilton's Fairlane as it appeared in 1958. Photo courtesy of Hilton Vail.
Once the bodywork was done, the Fairlane was finished off with 18 coats of "Lime Fire Green" paint, a color originally developed by George Barris. The roof received 18 coats of "Star Mist Silver" paint, and each coat of the lacquer was carefully rubbed out before the next coat was added. The roof was also dressed up with rows of silver tape, a popular trend back in the late 1950s. Photo courtesy of Hilton Vail.
Hilton and friend, Pete Newton, drove down to Tijuana, Mexico to have their cars upholstered together. The interior and trunk in Hilton's Fairlane were upholstered in White tuck n rool Naugahyde. "I had the floors done in White Naugahyde, so you didn't get in my car with the shoes on. It was all nice and White, and I had all of the panels that were removable chromed," Hilton told Sondre Kvipt when he interviewed him about his old custom. Photo courtesy of Hilton Vail.
Hilton's Ford was featured in the "Teen Scene - Car Corner" section in the December 20, 1958 issue of The San Bernardino County Sun newspaper. This story was written by Bert Leaverton, and it featured a photo by Curt Armstrong.
Hilton's Ford was also featured in the "Teen Scene - Car Corner" section in the November 7, 1959 issue of The San Bernardino County Sun newspaper. This story was written by Jim Harris, and it featured a photo by Ron Gravetta.

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 two-door hardtop owned by Krankers of San Bernardino member Hilton Vail of San Bernardino, California. In 2019 Hilton told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that he bought the car new; "It had the 312 cubic inch, 245 horsepowers, and a single four-barrel carburetor engine. It also had a stick shift and overdrive. I was 19 years old, and I had been a street drag racer, occasionally drag strip racer, with other cars that I had." [1]


Krankers

Hilton was active in the Krankers from 1958 to 1960, and his Ford is a beautiful example of a late 1950s Californian Semi-Custom. In 1959 The San Bernardino County Sun newspaper featured Hilton's Ford in their "Teen Scene - Car Corner" section, and according to that story, the bodywork was limited on the car in order not to tamper too much with the natural beauty of the '57 lines. Hilton's uncle was a body and fender man for a Chevrolet dealership in Los Angeles. "He took the emblems off of the hood and the deck lid for me. He also did the bodywork while I installed 1956 Ford F-100 headlight doors. Replacing the stock headlight doors took away the bug-eyed look of the 1957 Ford. Then I put a 1954 Chevrolet grille in it, which has a much more perfect contour to how the hood comes down to the front." For a personal touch, Gold 1958 Dodge Lancer emblems were installed on the rear quarter panels, replacing the "Fairlane 500" emblems. The door handles were also shaved and replaced by solenoids. A solenoid kit was also installed in the trunk before the taillights were slightly frenched and dressed up with Cadillac bullets. The hood received air scoops made out of 1956 Buick fender portholes, and .[1]


Lime Fire Green

Once the bodywork was done, the Fairlane was finished off with 18 coats of "Lime Fire Green" paint. A color originally developed by George Barris. "The first time I saw that color, I think was 1955 or 1956. Of course, at that time I didn't have the 1957 Ford." The roof received 18 coats of "Star Mist Silver" paint before it was dressed up with rows of silver tape. There were two rows of four strips each on the outside, and one row of nine strips in the middle.[2] Each coat of the lacquer was carefully rubbed out before the next coat was added. The wheel wells were painted white, and Hilton's Fairlane was dressed up with 1958 Imperial hubcaps and dual dummy Appleton spotlights.[1]


Tijuana Upholstery

The interior in Hilton's Ford was originally red and white. "I had the inside all done in White Naugahyde. Back then, Naugahyde was a good material that would last a long time, and none of us could afford leather." Hilton and Pete Newton went to Tijuana, Mexico to have their cars done together. "I had the floors done in White Naugahyde, so you didn't get in my car with the shoes on. It was all nice and White, and I had all of the panels that were removable chromed." The trunk and interior, including the dash, were upholstered in White Naugahyde.[1]


Thunderbird Power

The car was delivered with a 312 cu in V-8 engine that Hilton had balanced and fitted with reworked heads. It was fed through a single 4-barrel carburetor, producing 245 horsepowers. A side stickshift Thunderbird transmission with overdrive and a 3:89 rear end were also installed along with traction master bars. The engine compartment was dressed up with Copper spray, and the engine received chromed valve covers, air cleaner, battery cover, and other articles.[1]


Lowered

For a long, low look, the front of the car was lowered about 4 1/2 inches by C-notching the frame and installing cut coils. A special spring kit was used for a four-inch drop in the rear. This gave Hilton the desired look without affecting the ride.[2]


Car Corner

Hilton's Ford was featured in the "Teen Scene - Car Corner" section of The San Bernardino County Sun newspaper December 20, 1958, and according to that article, he had invested $3,500 and seven months restyling the car. At the time, the car had turned 90.90 mph at the Marrow drag strip. A year later it did also appear in the "Teen Scene - Car Corner" section in the November 7, 1959 issue of The San Bernardino County Sun newspaper. According to that story, Hilton had an ET of 15.67 with the car.[2]


Shows

Hilton didn't put the Ford in a lot of shows, but the few he entered it in, he usually won a prize in his category. Except for one time, when his buddy Pete Newton's 1958 Pontiac beat him.[2]


Sold

Hilton sold the Ford in 1960. After that he was no longer an active member of the club. "I still was friends with many of the guys, but things changed, and in 1961 I was drafted into the Army."


References



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