Wish fulfilled - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Wish fulfilled

Son helps his father find his dream car, a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria

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Posted: Sunday, June 17, 2012 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - It's typical for kids to get an earful about their fathers' unfulfilled wishes.

The trophy fish that bested a line, the great vacation perpetually around the corner.

Josh Hart has had no doubt about his father's unicorn: The '56 Ford Crown Victoria.

"My father owned a '55 model when he was a kid, the lower-end model," the Hayden man said, perched in a chair during the Car d'Lane car show on Saturday. "He's wanted a '56 Crown Victoria all his life, ever since I can remember."

Jason knows all the details, long repeated by his father, Clarence. That the car was briefly manufactured, with only several thousand produced.

So this Car d'Lane was a special one.

Because guess what Jason and Clarence, chatting side by side on Saturday, had parked in front of them?

Wish fulfilled.

"I was 17 years old when I had the other car. When we bought this, I was 63," Clarence said, his white beard matching the Crown Victoria's snowy paint job. "Throughout most of that time, I'd been looking for it."

The vehicle was spotless and polished, trimmed with sparkling chrome. The headlights popped out with personality, like it was silently greeting passersby.

Clarence, a retired mechanic who now lives in Moscow, pointed to the chrome stripe dissecting the car on the top.

"This is what makes it the Crown, is the chrome on the top," he said.

Clarence had been spinning stories about the car to Jason "since he was this big," the father said, holding his hand to his knee.

His obsession stems from the beauty and drivability of the '56, he said, and its elusiveness even for a car collector like him. There are few models, of course, and his chances to purchase one were limited while serving in the Navy from 1970 to 1996.

"I would've looked funny driving it in Vietnam," Clarence said.

Jason, who collects Pontiacs, had quietly trolled for a Crown Victoria for years, he said, in hopes of surprising his dad.

He stumbled across a restored model in Spokane last fall on Craigslist, and swooped in to buy it.

"It's something that came along at the right place, the right time, the right price," Jason said, adding that he snagged it for $12,700.

When he called his dad to help pick it up, Clarence was in shock.

"I didn't hardly believe we'd gotten into one," Clarence said.

The car is everything he imagined, Clarence added.

"It's perfect," he said.

On Saturday, they had only seen one other '56 Crown Victoria at the event, Jason said.

"You'll be lucky if you see two or three of these at a show this size," Jason said, glancing down the long row of cars. "There aren't many cars here you can only see two of."

"If there were three, I'd be surprised," Clarence said.

Clarence, who drives the car regularly, has paid Jason enough so they each own half.

It's a running joke that when Clarence kicks it, the car goes straight to Jason.

"I'm going to outlive him," Clarence said with a smile.

But Jason, who recalled how his father made him build his first car in high school, said the vehicle will always be a link to the man who introduced him to cars.

"When he's done driving it, I'll re-restore it back to the original and have that as a memory of him," Jason said.

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