Meet George, the newest member of our family. He’s a bit old and rusty, but we are excited to have him. I’ve hoped for him for years, and now he’s finally here!
George is our 1955 Vanguard that, as the story goes, once belonged to my aunt before she sold it off. She told me the story of driving her little brother, Kelly, around in it and that he sat on the middle section that folds down, which they then called the “Kelly” seat. My dad believes this is the same one he purchased back in the seventies, that he eventually sold to his brother, and which we finally purchased this year. I’ve always loved this car, having ridden in it as a kid. Originally all a lighter green, it was painted after my aunt sold it to a darker green and white, which is how we got it.
The car was driven up until 1987 or 88 when it was sold to my uncle and sat in his yard until we purchased it. It’s unfortunate that during a wind storm a tree fell on poor George, crushing the roof and causing great damage to the hood. There’s a few other bumps as well from having had things fall.
George came to us on a trailer my cousin brought up, strapped in with the original engine secured to the back. The original engine was seized and was therefore replaced with one from a Triumph TR4.
I’m not sure how my cousin got him on the trailer because it took multiple people to push him off. With the front drivers side wheel seized and the weight of a vehicle actually built tough, it wasn’t easy. It took a while, a lot of laughter, and nearly a face plant before we got him off and put in place.
And that’s where he sat for about a month. Through rain, record heat, and falling ash he waited to be seen. I was determined to not leave him for another 10 years after sitting at my uncle’s for about 30 years.
So George is a little beat up, a shadow of what he once was. The hood has a rather large dent and took a lot of convincing to open, he’s covered in rust “freckles”, and the roof is quite caved in which knocked the back window out (surprisingly in one piece). The glass is milky in some areas, the seats are torn and brittle, the doors don’t close, or even open all that well.
My cousins both asked me why I wanted him so much, thinking it was far too much work, but they don’t really share the same memories. When they had the car it just sat amongst the other really neat old vehicles they have. To me it’s worth it.
I was really excited to finally get to work on him a bit this past weekend, though we didn’t do much. I’d tried a quick polish on the chrome a few weeks before to no avail. It’s going to take a lot more work than the little bit of time and materials I had at that moment. I know it’s generally one of the last things to do, but I wanted to do something!
This time we pulled out the vacuum and I cleaned out what I could currently reach (it’s parked close to our truck until that sells) while my husband banged some of the door frames back up to allow us to open all doors. The tree had munched some that they now partially cover the doors at the top. My husband also put it up on blocks and took off the front passenger wheel to take a look at what we had. This verified that the turn signals installed are not stock, using a marrett to join the wires.
In the end we didn’t get much done but we started. The cobwebs are now gone, and we can see a little more what we’re working with. We’ve got a long ways to go with him, but we will conquer it one step at a time, even if they’re all baby steps.