1953 Ford Customline
Car for sale by Harwood Motors in Macedonia, Ohio 44056
From around 1956 until the mid 1980s, Dodge, Plymouth and even Chrysler squads were the most ubiquitous police cars in North America. In fact, the biggest department, the NYPD, used Plymouth and Dodge squads almost exclusively until the rear-drive M body car was finally axed in 1989.
The no-frills Savoy two-door sedan was home to another engine of considerable repute, the infamous 413 Max Wedge, a Super Stock monster block Chrysler introduced in the spring of 1962.
Classic Car Overview
1953 was the final year for Ford’s venerable flathead V8, but over the course of 21 years, it proved itself to be reliable, reasonably powerful, and always one of America’s favorite powerplants. It was the engine that started the hot-rodding phenomenon and made cars fun to drive rather than just practical. And all of that applies to this handsome 1953 Ford Customline club coupe, which is stylish, comfortable, fun to drive, and eminently usable as a real car. Thanks to the smooth and almost silent flathead V8 and an overdrive on the 3-speed manual gearbox, it’ll run at modern highway speeds without complaint, and the suspension and brakes are plenty competent for today’s world. We hear a lot of people complain that they’re afraid to drive old cars because they don’t want to cause traffic problems, but driving this Ford allows you to have your cake and eat it too—it does everything well!
We’re not going to tell you this is a perfect car but someone has lavished a lot of time and money on it. The crisp Glacier Blue and Showshoe White paint make it look sharply tailored and the combination is a traditional ‘50s look without being too far out there. The club coupe is a somewhat unusual body style that’s visually similar to the 2-door sedan, but the shorter quarter window makes it easy to spot and gives this car a very well-proportioned look. Paint and bodywork were well done to a good standard, not intended for the show field but for the road and casual shows where it’ll always be welcome. We see no evidence of accident damage or significant rust issues in its past, and the panel fit is quite good all around, suggesting someone invested the time to get it right. There’s plenty of chrome and stainless trim on this top-of-the-line Ford, all of which is in very good to excellent condition, including the bumpers, grille, and those beautiful chrome-ringed taillights that were the beginning of Ford’s fascination with jet-exhaust styling. It’s really a handsome little car!
The interior is finished with handsome blue and white upholstery that replicates the original patterns and continues the exterior theme. Wide bench seats are comfortable enough for all-day cruising and you’ll find that the driving position and controls make the Ford feel surprisingly modern. New carpets and custom door panels were installed at the same time, while the headliner appears to be original and in fair condition with a small seam split above the driver’s door. The big steering wheel frames an arched instrument panel that incorporates all the gauges, and they’re joined by twin temperature gauges installed under the dash (one for each bank of cylinders). The little knob marked “OVERDRIVE” is important, as it gives this Ford comfortably long legs for highway cruising at 65 MPH, but with 4.10 gears in back, it remains punchy and energetic around town—the best of both worlds! The toggle switch to the left of the steering column is for an auxiliary electric fuel pump, while the switch on the right controls an electric fan on the front of the radiator, which is helpful for hot days and heavy traffic. Sadly, neither the original radio nor clock are operational. The trunk shows off solid sheetmetal, along with a full-sized spare tire, and a reproduction mat would make it ready to show.
The engine is a great-running 239 cubic inch V8 that was rated at 110 horsepower by the factory—not too bad and it does make the car feel lively on the road. It’s neatly detailed with Ford Red paint on the engine itself, a correct oil bath air cleaner up top, and even Ford script hoses for the radiator. That radiator is an aftermarket aluminum unit that does a great job of helping the flathead keep its cool, assisted by both an engine-driven flex fan and the aforementioned electric unit. Correct decals and hardware were used throughout and it still runs a 6-volt electrical system with generator, so everything works like it should with no wonky electrical gremlins. It starts easily, idles almost silent, and pulls the lightweight coupe around with vigor, all while making those lovely flathead V8 sounds from the twin tailpipes out back. It doesn’t ask for anything but gas and oil, and in return it’ll give you more fun than almost anything else in its price range. That’s the joy of a flathead Ford.
The 3-speed manual transmission shifts nicely and the overdrive’s operation is seamless—we’ve found that around town, leaving it in 2nd gear and using the overdrive makes a great combination. It will upshift at about 29 MPH and you have a punchy gear that’ll work up to perhaps 50 MPH, and it automatically downshifts at about 10 MPH back to 2nd gear to let you pull away cleanly. Only dead stops require 1st gear, which makes this a very flexible package. And on the highway, the overdrive makes for relaxed cruising at modern speeds, so you’ll never feel like a rolling roadblock in today’s traffic. Nice, right? The dual exhaust system burbles along pleasantly but never drones and the 4-wheel hydraulic drum brakes are powerful enough to be reassuring. There are two patches in the floors in the rear footwells, which is a common area for water to collect on any old car, and the work is well done so you don’t have to worry about issues in the future. Tube shocks help improve ride quality and the frame is straight with no evidence of accident damage or exposure to inclement weather. Same with the rockers, which are clean, and even the spare tire well is in excellent condition with no rust issues. 15-inch steel wheels wear no-nonsense hubcaps and a fresh set of 205/75/15 whitewall radials, and you could really dress it up with a simple, inexpensive set of trim rings.
This is one of those cars that grows on you. It doesn’t hit you right away, but the more you look, the more you like it. The overdrive is a very big plus, making it a car that’s awesome to drive, and the quality of the restoration means you can enjoy it at almost any show. Best of all, it’s ready to enjoy right now without any major investment, and you can’t say that about many cars in this price range. Get in and start having fun!
Classic Car ID101244550
While we do our best to present all vehicles as honestly and accurately as possible, Harwood Motors Ltd. cannot guarantee the veracity of the information contained herein. This site and all advertising information may be updated without notice whenever new information is obtained and may contain mistakes and inaccuracies. Information is provided to the best of our knowledge and that of the owners of the vehicles, and we make no warranty or representation regarding the accuracy, truth, suitability, or reliability of such information. We cannot be responsible for any errors, omissions, or inaccuracies contained in information provided by third parties. Harwood Motors Ltd. is not an expert in the construction, metallurgy, engineering, finishes, materials, and componentry of every single vehicle ever made. Harwood Motors Ltd. strives to perform extensive visual inspections on all vehicles we represent but we do not disassemble vehicles or components for inspection purposes and therefore it is always possible that there is hidden damage that is not readily apparent. We cannot guarantee the fitness of any components beyond a visual inspection and normal operation of the vehicle. We do not perform internal examinations, so we cannot guarantee the condition of unseen internal components such as crankshafts, bearings, gears, and other mechanical equipment. This also applies to electronics such as radios, clocks, gauges, light fixtures, switches, or other electrical devices. Buyer should personally inspect the vehicle and satisfy himself as to its mechanical and cosmetic fitness. We always welcome inspections by Buyers and/or third parties who wish to undertake such examinations at their own expense. Harwood makes no warranty or representation regarding mileage unless otherwise stated. Listed prices do not include additional fees, state, federal, or local taxes, or shipping and delivery costs. Harwood Motors Ltd collects a $150.00 documentation fee on every vehicle purchase. Buyer is entirely responsible for satisfying himself that the car is as-represented prior to purchase and there are no warranties, expressed or implied, involved in the sale of any motor vehicle represented by Harwood Motors Ltd.
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