Jim Smart
October 1, 2002

Have you ever had an unforgettable love? Long walks together. Passionate kisses. Tenderness and intimacy. A steamy passion that rises to the surface and becomes the fusion of two beings, one love. Bob Browning understands this. He and his lovely wife, Pamela, are united in love. But this isn't about Bob and Pamela, at least not totally. It's about Bob and Victoria--the other significant other. Victoria is well-endowed, terrific face, great hind quarters, with a heart and spirit as big as the all outdoors.

Victoria is a '55 Ford two-door hardtop. Bob and Victoria have had a thing going on since 1984 when he became the second owner. The original owner showed him the bill of sale from Panama City, Panama, where the car was in storage for many years. This makes Bob the first owner to title this car in the United States. When Bob first saw Victoria, she was full of junk, dirty, neglected, but basically in good shape. At the time, Bob had little time for his purchase. He was building a '63 Galaxie XL with a 406. The '55 sat in storage for five years. When Bob finally got serious about the '55, he and Pamela decided to build it like they would have in the '60s, heavily modified with an FE big-block. It became a 10-year project.

Ultimately, they would fit the '50s Ford shoebox with a 427 custom built by Carroll Carter of C&C Performance in their hometown of Manassas, Virginia. This is a state-of-the-art FE big-block with a roller camshaft, roller rockers, a Shelby high-rise, two Holley 600-cfm carbs, Edelbrock Performer 390 heads, a Mallory Unilite ignition, stainless steel headers, a Centerforce clutch, and throaty Flowmaster mufflers.

As you might expect, Bob opted for Ford's bulletproof Top Loader four-speed and a 31-spline 9-inch with 4.11:1 gears. Strange axles take all of the punishment a 427 can dish out. Those are American Torq-Thrust wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson skins. Monroe shocks damp the action in all four corners. Front disc brakes working hand in hand with huge rear drums keep things safer. Ladder bars keep the nose on the ground. A guy like Bob doesn't accomplish something this nice all by himself. His friend George Ballard of Alexandria, Virginia, offered Bob his garage and help. George was doing a '55 Crown Victoria at the time, which made it easier because he knew his way around a '50s Ford.

It may seem ironic, but Bob and George focused on originality as well as power. They installed the correct seats and the proper Crown Victoria molding around the rear seat. These gentlemen stayed with what looked good and modified only if it netted real improvement. A LeCarra steering wheel worked a whole lot better than the huge school-bus steering wheel this Ford had to begin with. Period instruments, like a Sun SuperTach and Auto Meter vitals gauges, thrust us back to the '60s. Sound comes from an Audiovox CD and tape player. Outstanding workmanship makes the ride.

Outside, Bob worked the area he knows best: the body (he owns Browning's Auto Body in Manassas). That's DuPont acrylic enamel with clearcoat. Normally, you don't clearcoat an enamel finish, but the clearcoat enabled Bob to color sand and rub out the finish. It's striking. {{{Mercury}}} taillights entertain those who follow. A louvered hood looks sharp and keeps the engine compartment cooler.

When we asked Bob how often he drives the car, he said, "Not often enough…" Isn't that just the way it is when you've found that once-in-a-lifetime find--a striking lady named Victoria?

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