Rare Find: 1951 Ford Victoria

The 1951 Ford Victoria was a car that grabbed the attention of buyers when it was launched, and it will still attract plenty of attention today. This one is no exception, although it does hide a secret or two. Potential buyers will need to take a closer look at this one to determine whether it is a project that they would be willing or capable of taking on. Located in New London, Wisconsin, you will find the Ford listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $7,000 in this No Reserve auction.

Following the end of World War II, American buyers were clamoring for new cars. The economy was booming, and people had money to burn. Passenger car production and development had ceased during the war, which meant that manufacturers were forced to enter this new era of prosperity with slightly modified versions of their pre-war offerings. Ford stole a march on the opposition in 1949 by releasing the first completely new model. Affectionately dubbed the Shoebox, this new model sold in incredible numbers. For the 1951 model year, Ford then introduced the Victoria to their range. Taken purely at face value, this ’51 Victoria seems to have a lot to offer potential buyers. Its white paint looks nice, with no signs of any horrible problems. The panels are straight, and there is no evidence of any external rust. Someone has fitted the car with a Continental kit, which gives the vehicle a distinctive appearance. The trim and chrome appear to be in excellent order, while the same is true of the glass.

While this old Ford shows promise when viewed from above, the story heads downhill at a rapid rate when we get it up on a lift to take a look underneath. This also demonstrates why an in-person inspection is vital when considering any project car. The seller supplies a written condition report on the vehicle, reinforcing what can be seen by the naked eye. The Victoria is a classic with some significant rust issues, and addressing them would be a considerable undertaking. The frame is particularly bad, and it places a huge question mark over the car’s structural integrity. The reality is that any restoration will be a frame-off proposition, and getting the frame back into shape will consume a lot of time and not a little money. The written report also indicates rust in the floors, but it isn’t as graphically obvious as the rust in the frame. I don’t believe that this classic has deteriorated beyond the point of no return, but it will require a new owner with plenty of time and patience if it is to eventually return to our roads.

Lifting the hood of the Victoria reveals the venerable 239ci flathead V8 that is bolted to a 3-speed manual transmission. The motor doesn’t run, and it isn’t clear when it last fired a shot in anger. Someone has treated it to a few upgrades. These include Weiand cylinder heads, a dual carburetor setup, and a dual exhaust. The 239 would have been producing 100hp when it was new, so it would be safe to assume that these changes would have unleashed a few additional horses. The V8 doesn’t currently run, but it does turn freely. Coaxing it back to life will only be a small part of the equation. The written report indicates that the rear main seal is leaking, while there are leaks in the braking system, new wheel cylinders will be required, the suspension requires new bushes, and there are issues with the wiring. Returning the Ford to a mechanically roadworthy state will take more than a weekend of tinkering in a workshop, but once this classic has been restored, it looks like it could be an entertaining little beast to own and drive.

This Ford’s interior is serviceable, but it is another area that will require some major work if it is to be returned to its best. The cover on the rear seat isn’t torn, but it is dirty and stained. I suspect that it might respond positively to a deep clean, but I’m not sure that I would make the effort. The front seat will require a new cover, and getting any replacement to match the existing rear one will be virtually impossible. That makes me believe that all of the upholstery will need to be replaced if color and pattern consistency is to be retained. Kits are available to achieve this, but the prices can be eye-watering. They tend to sell for around the $3,000 mark but include everything required to return the interior to as-new condition. If that’s a bit rich for some buyers, it might be possible to shave these costs by having a custom trim set made by an upholsterer. It might not be factory correct, but it is an option that is worth investigating if cost is an issue.

I would love to get a closer look at this 1951 Ford Victoria because only that sort of an in-person inspection will determine whether its rust issues are as bad as the written report would seem to indicate. It is an attractive car, and there’s no doubt that it would turn heads once returned to active duty. Its listing has already managed to turn heads because there have been 25 bids submitted at the time of writing. That suggests that a few people are willing to roll the dice on this one in the hope that it is a financially viable project car. Would you be willing to submit a bid, or are you unwilling to take the risk?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Raymond

    All new chassis, new suspension, modern brakes, new floorplans, new wiring, new upholstery….possible yes, but cost?….way in over your head with this one…still a pretty car

    Like 6
  2. James West

    Seems like the engine and trans are the only good parts.

    Like 3
  3. Howard A Member

    I know it looks old, but rest assured, this car was the dream of every young man laying in the ditches of France. A 2 door Ford “Vicky”, didn’t get any better. Your favorite gal by your side, Nat King Cole crooning out the hits on the radio, and it was good enough. How we ever lost our way, I’ll never know. The car does look odd, nice on top, rusted underneath, but not wasted. Typical of a Wisconsin car. Who sees the underside anyway. Auction cars have unrealistic undersides, you could eat off the rear axle, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Our Packard looked just like this, functional, just not pretty. Some folks, younger types, mostly, may laugh at the custom touches, but remember, a continental kit, twice pipes, bullet tail lights, was all the rage. I like the little “foot” dimmer switch. Great find, for sure.
    I see the disclaimer at the end of most posts lately, and if you like the site, please help support it by becoming a member. It helps pay the writers who, I’m sure have other things they could be doing, but take the time to bring us these finds.

    Like 18
    • Howard A Member

      Actually, I’d like to amend that to say, this is what our GI’s dreamed about in that God-forsaken Korean war( 1950-1953). A Ford Vicky wasn’t around in Dubja, Dubja 2, der, when a new Studebaker with the little fan on the dash, is probably what my old man dreamed about in Europe.

      Like 7
    • Dave

      Take a look at the ebay pix. The frame certainly is wasted, completely rusted through, front to back.

      Like 1
  4. Art

    I’d wager this one lived most of its life in or around the tri-state area. This level of rust is typical. Nice on the top. Deep cancer working its relentless dark magic from the bottom.

    Very difficult to turn it around once it gets this far into the structural basis of the frame.

    The shoe-box is a simple design. Elegant in its own way. It has aged well.

    Hope someone saves it. But at this point, the smartest thing may be to use it as a donor on a dry frame.

    Like 8
  5. Terrry

    Didn’t the ’51 Fords have two “bullets” in the grille, which they continued through ’52?

    Like 8
    • Rick

      The ’51 did have two bullets, so someone has done some modification on this particular car. It looks like they’ve installed the grille and parking and signal lights from a ’50.

      The ’52 had one center bullet, similar to the ’49 and ’50, with a large circular parking and signal light below each headlight.

      Like 4
  6. Ryan

    Great Scott! Right around the bend from me.

    Like 1
  7. wudy

    It may title a 51, but not the original grill. or tail lights..51`s had twin bullets’ on the grill bar ,I had one of these
    was auto, trans, you could roll off a hill or push it to start if bat.. was dead, as much rust under it , i bet that body is half putty..
    One i had was light brown with ivory top,

  8. Paul Jennings

    I had one in 1956, loved the car. Aside from the rust/rot, this one has some missing original parts, hard to tell how many without seeing it close up. Rust is the major problem. Cost to restore “properly”? You better have deep pockets.

    Like 1
  9. bobhess bobhess Member

    The one piece grill bar was aftermarket sold by J.C. Whitney and others. Sold the continental kits also. That frame is not something I’d be inclined to spend a whole lot of money on to replace. Too bad. These are nice old cars.

    Like 2
  10. Fred W

    If you go to the Ebay site, the seller has provided a complete inspection of the car done by an appraiser (I’m familiar with these because I used to perform them). The inspector checks the boxes for severe rust damage to the frame. If you are interested in this one, I would go over the inspection with a fine toothed comb, it could save you from having to do a personal inspection. The guys who do this generally have no relation to the seller and will pick the car apart, which is what buyers want.

    This car is bound to be hiding more that just frame issues, despite how nice it looks in the photos. Unless prepared to do a full frame off including replacing the frame, I would run.

    Like 3
  11. bobhess bobhess Member

    Fred W…. inspection report doesn’t paint a great picture of this car.

  12. charlie Member

    And the frame, I think, was the same as the convertible, not the other models, so for structural reasons you just can’t buy a common 4 door and do a transplant. GM did the same for the Chevy. Note how the roof and rail over the windshield meet. Not unattractive but shows its convertible parentage.

    Like 1
  13. Thomas N Crum

    A small story please: I purchased a 1974 Mercedes 280C that had been sitting for many years. I got it up and running and had it repainted back to the original color of coffee brown. In the glove box was all the original papers plus the warranty from Midas on the muffler from 1989. In 2018 Midas honored this life time warranty and installed a new muffler at no charge.

    Like 4
  14. gaspumpchas

    Must have sat in a dirt floor garage, or another place that was wet.To me, put a solid frame under it and drive it. Major job would be a labor of love. This ol gal screams 50’s with the duals, connie kit, souped up flatty. Good luck and stay safe.
    look it over and see if u want to tackle, Seems that one seam on the frame let the water in.
    Cheers
    GPC

  15. Jaker76

    Interesting looking but the frame rot, be great if had a spare 51 Ford frame!!! The grille has been altered but the tail lights are original-I had one of these in a 4 door for several years back in my college days!! Gonna take a lot of work but that engine looks real intteresting!!!

    Like 1
  16. Brian M Member

    I see an overdrive handle under the dash to the left of the steering column. Wonder if it is still there. My dad bout a 51 Tudor brand new in 51, with the OD and once bragged to me, before I was old enough to drive, that he could get 80 mph out of second standard but we didn’t have the roads in New England back then to see what OD third gear would do.

  17. Mnguy

    I take umbrage with the idea Ford was the only new design in ’49. Gm models were all new too and some had new engines too.

  18. David ulrey

    I wonder how difficult it would be to remove the body and place it on the frame and all running gear from a 1998 to 2011 Crown Victoria? Preferably a police car version and either keep the flathead and transmission in the garage or do someone a favor that is restoring one with a solid foundation and sell the engine and transmission to them. I’ve certainly seen it done with Ford pickups from the 60s.

  19. Wayne from oz

    It’s a pity masking tape is so expensive, otherwise they could have masked the id plate when they splashed the paint around.

  20. roland schoenke

    I smell complete restored sleeper, maybe a nice coyote engine.

  21. TMK

    I would do some research to see if it possible to take the body off an mount it on a different Ford frame with new up grades . even if you had modify the frame to work. and if it need a new floor pan it could be install at that time,

  22. Lowell Peterson

    Don’t be afraid…jus’ put 10,000….100’s in a shoe box, order an Art Morrison chassis set up for coyote/ 6spd,some wilwood brakes, ford9″ rear, strip it fix it fade it, opholster it and drive it!

    Like 1
  23. Glenn Reynolds

    Particularly the Olds Rocket 88

  24. Ray

    These early hardtops were perpetual rattle traps. Also, cars like this, that reside in the rust belt, are usually full of bondo. An Ok buy at $6-800. Hot rod material. Replace frame, suspension, running gear, & floors all the way through the trunk. Do body, paint, & upholstery. If you got it for free, you will still be over your head in cost & restoration to factory stock is out of the question. Pay $7-10000 for a finished, rust free, ‘51, & buy a coupe.

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