Old Cars Weekly: Ford Fixation
Don’t let the neon Corvette sculpture on the roof of Valenti Classics fool you. This established collector-car dealership in Caledonia, Wis., is loaded with Fords and Mercurys.
While it’s true that the restoration of a ’61 Corvette started in all, the dealership has become a multimillion-dollar business that sells collector cars to people all over the world. It is one of few full-service collector dealerships in the United States.
The ’61 Corvette that Steve Valenti restored with his father Don won notoriety and awards at major shows. It wasn’t long before people were asking the father-and-son team to restore their cars or sell them already-restored cars. To satisfy all of the requests, the Valentis started their business (www.valenticlassics.com) in 1990.
Despite these GM roots, FoMoCo cars are not overlooked. Valenti Classics’ current inventory includes such cars as a 1959 Edsel Corsair convertible, a 1939 Ford Deluxe coupe, 1940 Ford coupe, 1950 Mercury, 1955 Mercury Custom station wagon under restoration and a 1960 Mercury Monterey.
“I like old Fords and grew up with that stuff,” Don Valenti explained. “And ’50s Mercurys have always been special to me. I was just telling some young people that when I was a kid, you could buy a ’49 or a ’50 Ford on a used-car lot for $50, but the ’50 Mercs were three or four times as much. You don’t forget things like that.”
According to Valenti, flathead-powered FoMoCo models are “comparatively speaking, relatively easy to sell and nice-looking cars to have in the showroom. The final criteria we use to determine what cars we buy to re-sell is that we may be looking at them for a long time — especially right now — so we buy cars that we personally like looking at.”
When asked why the showroom wasn’t loaded with muscle cars, like many collector car dealerships, Valenti explained, “One problem with muscle cars is that they have taken a more significant hit than other market sectors lately. In contrast, the flathead Fords are holding their own. They are cars we can still buy and sell with some idea of where the market is.”
We told Valenti we had noticed that aftermarket goodies had been added to some of the cars at Valenti Classics, and we asked him how this plays out with buyers. “On a personal level, we like them just the way that we did them back in the ’50s,” said Don. “And while there are certainly purists out there, a lot of our buyers like having a ’39 or ’40 Ford that they can hop into and drive across the country without worrying.”
The following are brief descriptions of some FoMoCo cars in Valenti Classics’ showroom when Old Cars Weekly paid a recent visit:
1940 Ford coupe
This 1940 Ford coupe was refurbished in maroon with a tan cloth custom interior. The engine is the correct flathead V-8, but it has been “enhanced” with Offenhauser heads and intake manifold, Fenton headers and three Stromberg 97 carbs. The mild period custom is a great driver and offers potential new owners a great deal of highway pleasure.
Mercurys were completely restyled for 1957. Several of the new features included a concave vertical-bar grille, a front-hinged hood, V-shaped taillamps, upper rear fender sculpturing, rear deck sculpturing and cowl vent intakes.
This restored Mercury is relatively rare. It is finished in Onyx Black with a correct black-and-white interior. It is a rust-free California “black plate” car and is believed to have just 57,000 original miles.
This AACA first-place-winning two-door sedan is somewhat unique with its roof line and wrap-around windows. A total of 15,790 of these cars were built and had a list price of $2,781. They were equipped with a 312-cid, 205-hp V-8, a two-barrel carburetor and an automatic transmission with column shifter.
This Mercury has been restored in Polaris White with a stunning red interior. It is equipped with air conditioning, power steering, AM radio, fender skirts and more< Back to Blog