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Ed and Lois Nestor's '61 Ford Starliner - From Dust 'Til Dawn
After spending a couple of decades in a turkey shed, this Ford emerged from underneath an inch of dust to become the black beauty she is today.
After spending a couple of decades in a turkey shed, this Ford emerged from underneath an inch of dust to become the black beauty she is today
Ed and Lois Nestor are the proud owners of this '61 Ford Starliner. The couple had been into their classic rods for some time when they came across the Starliner a few years back. At the time they owned a '56 Chevy, a '57 Ford, and a '97 Camaro.
"All of them were really nice cars," said Lois. Regardless, when Ed saw the car at Auto Specialty Auctions in Greeley, Colorado, he had to have it.
"The first time I saw it in the window I fell in love with it," said Ed, a 64-year-old long-distance trucker from Colorado. "It took me about one afternoon to figure out how to make a deal for the car." That "deal" included all three of Ed and Lois' cars, and $7,000.
"The '57 Ford was a decently restored Fairlane," Ed told us. "The '56 Chevy had problems, but had a 350, and the '97 Camaro had been modified pretty extensively. When Lois found out I wanted to trade three cars and cash she wasn't a happy camper," Ed said. "So I did some begging and told her this was an investment car and told her she could have hardwood floors." The exchange was actually done directly with the car builder rather than the auction.
Ed and Lois got the car they wanted, but how did the car they coveted become as cool as its current state? Well, that's where Steve Erickson of Carriage House Classic Cars in Evans, Colorado, enters the picture. Steve has been restoring cars since he got out of the heavy equipment or "yellow iron" business many years ago, after he signed a non-compete clause with his previous business owner and had to find an alternative, but similar business.
"I found the Starliner through a friend of a friend," said Steve. "It had been stored in a turkey shed north of Longmont since the '80s and it had about an inch of dust on it. Greeley and the surrounding areas of Colorado are fairly rural. There are plenty of guys who paid good money for these cars when they were new," said Steve. "They just sell 'em off when they need 'em. They're sort of like their 401k." Apparently, the guy Steve bought the Starliner from had a few other cars, like a Galaxie XL and a '57 Chevy. Keep your eyes on these pages in the future for the rare XL.
"When we got the dust off, which was essentially turkey crap turned to dust, the car was Corinthian White with Green Shimmer fabric and vinyl interior," said Steve. "It was a god-awful, ugly-looking car." Steve and his co-workers, Ron Johnson and Dave Lopez, decided to turn the ugly duckling into a black swan.
"I first saw the Galaxie at the World's Fair in Seattle when I was a kid," said Steve. "It won a bunch of design awards, beating out the other big bubbletop makers." Before they got to work on the bubbletop's body, the team pulled the engine and transmission and sent them both out for rebuilds. Bruce Yackey at Greeley Machine is known for his work on stock car engines, though his role this time was a bit tamer. The four-barrel carburetor on the Starliner's 390 has been replaced with three two-barrels and the accompanying air filter--a setup that was apparently all the rage when it came to upgrades when the 390 first came out. Beneath it is a balanced and blueprinted rebuild of the 390ci V-8.
Engines usually take a while to rebuild, so before they got it back, Steve and his crew finished up the body by removing the majority of the stainless trim and spraying the single-stage Black onto the Starliner's now straight body.
After that, Steve sent the seats out to be covered in Fire Thorn Red leather, while the door panels were done in house. The only other change to the searing red interior space is the Grant 990 billet steering wheel.
The menacing and low stance came by way of a 2-inch axle drop out back and, and 2-inch drop spindles up front. It's further intensified by the polished aluminum, deep dish rims that came from Coy's Custom Wheel and Tire in Denver. The Intro Wheels billet aluminum V-Rods, 18x7 fore and 20x8.5 aft, are wrapped with Hankook Ventus rubber, P235/40R18 up front and P275/35R20 out back. Behind the billet hoops is an SSBC performance brake system with two-piston calipers with cross-drilled rotors up front. The stock rear drum brakes were retained, though masked with a faux set of rotors.
When we asked Steve what his best experience with the car had been, he said that it was watching the Nestors have so much fun with the car at shows. If you ask Lois and Ed what their best experience has been, they mention the shows, but they also mention the enthusiasm with which their grandson, Dakota, reacted during our photo shoot.
"He was in heaven," said Lois. "Absolutely eating it up." In fact, 11-year-old Dakota was so enthused he ended being an instrumental part of the photo shoot, working his smaller frame directly into the engine compartment to snap a couple key shots. It was great to see such a young kid stoked by a car that was so before his time.
The Nestors have the car of their dreams, and more importantly, have consolidated their nest (get it, Nestors-nest?) of cars and gotten rid of a '97 Camaro in the process. Not bad for a 50-year-old, bird-crap covered hunk of metal that eventually spread its wings as a black swan, and bridged a generation gap at the same time.