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Customs History Search

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by buddyamigo, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. IMG_2543.JPG IMG_2540.JPG IMG_2541.JPG I've owned my 53 Mainline for a few years now and, in the process of working on it, have reached the point where I'd like to know the history of the car.
    I have the original Car Papers and know the car was originally purchased 5/15/53 at Coffeyville Motor Company in Coffeyville, KS. The original owner, a fellow named W.H. Bays, bought the car from a salesman named Hayden.
    How it got to TX is unknown at this time. I have sent a formal letter of inquiry to the TX DMV to get the title history of the car and hope to be able to follow the trail from Mr. Bays to me through the past 66 years.
    Coffeyville Motor Co. no longer exists. And I have had no luck finding Mr Bays, as I only have his initials.
    So, as I conduct this search I'm asking my fellow HAMBers for help. If you have any info about the dealership, or (slim chance) know anyone connected to the Bays family, please let me know.
    I'll keep you all informed as the hunt progresses!

    By the way, in this age of 100,000 warranties, check the coverage on the warranty papers: 90 days/4000 miles!
     
    LOU WELLS, Clay Belt and catdad49 like this.
  2. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,570

    woodiewagon46
    Member
    from New York

    Buddy, I don't know if this will help your situation, but I learned the first 18 years of my '46 by the service station lube stickers on the A pillar on my car. I found the service station and it was still owned by the same family. Actually talked to the old gent that serviced my car from '46 to '64, AND he remembered it.
     
    czuch, Bleach, catdad49 and 2 others like this.
  3. IMG_2463.JPG
    Unfortunately nothing like that on my car. At some point it was nosed, decked and shaved, and has been repainted at least once.
    Here's how it now looks. I want to find out when it got the treatment. The Cal Custom dummy spots appear to be mid 60s vintage.
     
  4. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,616

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    good luck with your search - if seller of car to you did not provide any background on it may end up being a cold trail - might try to find a person in your area that helps with registration, searching for titles, etc for old vehicles
     
    Deuces likes this.
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  5. Hoping the DMV can provide names and towns, if not copies of titles. That will at least point me in the right direction. The most important links: how/when did a car from KS come to TX, and who was the first to start the work on it.
    The car and I will be at LSRU this April. Hope to have more info by then.
     
    Deuces likes this.
  6. Good luck , your gonna need it. HRP
     
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  7. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,616

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    automobile manufacturers did not start using VIN until 1954 - previous stamped numbers were a manufacturer identification number - no required standard on what these digits meant -there were no national standards set until 1981 when 17 digits were required - thinking that a pre-computer paper trail exists on every old car in the United States DMV system is wishful thinking
     

  8. So noted. Found out about the VIN before I started this search. Was told by a gentleman at the state level that the ID number may still prove useful and was instructed to include it on official requests. Also useful for when I contact Ford to see about any old maintenance issues/records.
    We'll give it a good try. But you're right, JJ. This will not be easy.
     
    catdad49 and Deuces like this.
  9. choptop40
    Joined: Dec 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,585

    choptop40
    Member

    Like your Ford....good luck in your search
     
  10. catdad49
    Joined: Sep 25, 2005
    Posts: 4,005

    catdad49
    Member

    At least you're being realistic. Good Luck on your quest and share your results, please.
     
  11. SR100
    Joined: Nov 26, 2013
    Posts: 730

    SR100
    Member

    Walter Harrison Bays, 1888–1975, was the mgr. of Wiggins & Sons, a tobacco wholesaler in Coffeyville. He would have been about 65 when he bought the car, so it might have been a retirement present to himself. No telling how long Bays kept it.
    Kyle J. Hayden was the sales mgr. of Coffeyville Motor Co in 1953.
    Not sure whether coming from a family of genealogists is a blessing or a curse...
     
  12. IMG_2547.PNG
    Thank you! My son (a historian and archivist by profession) and I also found info about Mr Bays. He worked for awhile as a traveling salesman for Coffeyville Mercantile Co and was born in 1889. An early photo is attached. Unfortunately his kids are both deceased, as is Mr. Hayden, so I fear I'll not learn much more from Coffeyville. I will be contacting the KS Bureau of Motor Vehicles to see when Walter (or his family) traded or sold the 53, if possible. Hoping that helps.
     
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  13. That's the Ford dealership my car was bought from in 1953 on the left. Building is now under renovation, as is the cool theatre next door. IMG_2548.JPG
     
  14. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,981

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    I wish I could help you in your search, but I can only add a little Coffeyville history, other than the well-known Dalton Bros attempt at a double bank robbery. Coffeyville was home to ParMac mfg, formerly Parkersburg Rig & Reel, of Parkersburg, WV. They manufactured various oilfield items, but were mainly known for their hydramatic auxiliary brakes. A hydramatic is basically a large (3' or more) diameter fluted wheel in an enclosed housing, that was filled with water to the desired level by the rig operator to enhance the mechanical brakes on a drilling rig. Tied to the drawworks drum, they were extremely effective when all was in good operating order, and are required to be engaged when the hook load exceeds 50,000 lbs. I have a friend who was born there in 1944, I will try and ask him tomorrow if he remembers any of the people and places you are interested in.
     
  15.  
  16. Thank you. For a town of only about 10k people, Coffeyville has a lot of interesting history. It's also right on the OK border, only about 250 miles from TX. The path is getting a bit clearer.
     
  17. catdad49
    Joined: Sep 25, 2005
    Posts: 4,005

    catdad49
    Member

    Pretty neat so far, keep digging!
     
  18. Some interesting developments: Spoke with the guy I bought the car from and found that HE got the car from a fellow who bought the car in Michigan. Discovered that Mr. Bays had a son who lived in that state who died tragically in 1974....possibly the connection that I've waited to find. Sent a records request off to the Michigan DMV to get title info, hoping to see what connections exist.
    One thing that has been a mystery is how a car in this seemingly decent shape could go 66 years with only 71000 miles on the odometer (condition of motor and original parts make it highly unlikely the car rolled the odometer over, so I believe the mileage is accurate.) Wondering if the tragic passing of Mr. Bays' son (died in a boating accident near Whitefish Bay, body was never found) resulted in the car sitting in storage for years. Won't know until I can reach out to folks.
    Anyway, discovered that the fellow that bought the car in Michigan bought it from a musician who had done the nosing, shaving, decking and other mild customizing. Hoping to get his name so I can reach out and maybe get some pictures of before/after and during. We're zeroing in on how this car came to be what it currently is. (Helps to have a historian/archivist in the family! )
    Next step is getting the name and contact info of the man who brought the car to TX from Michigan. He should be able to tell me a good bit about its condition and also owned the car while it still had the Caddy interior which, by the way, included a custom console. Hoping I can get pictures. Will keep you posted!
    BTW, now registered for the LSRU in April. Hope to see fellow HAMB members there.
     
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  19. While digging, found this cool photo from the early 50s of Coffeyville, KS, where the 53 was originally purchased and owned. Notice what's on the left side of the picture.
     

    Attached Files:

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  20. Waiting for the Michigan paperwork. Till then, got a copy of this book and learned the following from the ID/Patent plate: the car is NOT a Mainline, it is a Customline base. Color was originally Sandpiper Tan with a two-tone tan interior, and the car was built on the 12th day of May in 1953. The fellow mentioned above told me when I spoke to him that the owner before him removed the brightwork and did the red paint. Near as I can tell, the car has been at least three colors: tan, black and then red.
    Another reference book revealed the following costs for the options that Mr. Bays outfitted the car with: directional signals ($15), electric clock ($15) and recirculating heater ($44). A very base model car.
    Will post some photos from a prior owner as soon as I have his permission to do so.
    IMG_2551 (2).jpg
     
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  21. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 3,723

    olscrounger
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    interesting! I have a 20 dollar bill marked "issued by bank of Coffeyville Kansas" never seen another
    Good luck with your search
     
  22. oliver westlund
    Joined: Dec 19, 2018
    Posts: 764

    oliver westlund
    Member

    this stuffs so cool!
     
  23. mopacltd
    Joined: Nov 11, 2008
    Posts: 827

    mopacltd
    Member

    Cool search and history.
     
  24. Still waiting for the Michigan title report. If you've never done one of these, a 3 page form needs to be filled out, and an accompanying letter with a full explanation of why you are asking for the info has to be sent. Of course the state needs a copy of your legal ID and payment ($11 per title, actually not unreasonable.) It all hinges on what comes back with this report. It will, hopefully show the connection from Kansas to Michigan and the missing link between the man I last spoke to and the person who did the original customizing. Stay tuned! Been told this may take 3 weeks.
     
  25. Here's a shot from a former owner showing the 53 in Michigan. His young son, shown here, reportedly loved the car. Starting him out right at a young age! IMG_2556.JPG
     
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  26. Well, a dead end from Michigan. The DMV from that state called me yesterday and informed me that they cannot release any information to me. I asked if there was any way I could find out the NUMBER of titles for the car, which at least would tell me how many times it changed hands, and was told no. We now go back to more traditional methods. I sent a request to the gentleman referenced above and asked him if he still has any information about the person from whom he bought the 53. If so, I'll work on tracking that individual down (if still alive).

    So here's where we stand: I know who the original owner was, and where it was purchased. I know that his son was the one who took the car to Michigan, and that that gentleman passed away in 1974 due to a tragic boating accident. What follows is a hole from that gentleman to the person who sold the car to the guy I bought it from. So there may be at least one more owner out there. If there is only one, that means I am the sixth owner of the car in 66 years, and we now know five of them (including me). I still haven't found out who originally nosed, shaved, decked and customized the Ford, or when that occurred, as the person referenced above said the work was already done when he bought the car.

    My questions about how a car of this age can only have 71000 miles on it remain, although it is safe to assume that at some point it sat, probably for a very long time. (We believe the mileage is accurate, not rolled over, as the motor is numbers matching to the car and it shows no evidence of ever having been apart. The rear end and tranny have been completely redone, and the mechanic doing the work expressed his belief that it was the first time either had been apart.) The master cylinder died last week, and when I dug into it it was obvious that the metal lines and associated connections were original. So, a new brake system goes in next week.

    One side effect of this research: my attitude about the 53 has changed. I now see myself more as the current caretaker of the car, not just the title holder. The car has taken on a real life of its own as I've discovered its role in the many prior owners' lives, through tragedies and joys.

    More coming as we continue the search..... Stay tuned!
     
  27. coffeyville.jpg
    The car dealership building in Coffeyville still exits, as does the movie theatre shown in the historic image posted near the beginning of this thread. Not a Ford dealership anymore. The city recognizes these buildings as historic landmarks and uses them for events. The 53 was delivered to Mr. Bays in the building to the left of the theatre and was probably driven home on this street.
     
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  28. The 53 got a trophy for favorite traditional at a small local show (75 cars) here in Houston. Wonder what Mr. Bays would think? 53 ford.jpg
     
  29. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,981

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    While it is unusual for a car of that age to only have 71,000 miles, it is not unheard of. My '66 Mercury is showing just under 35,000 miles, and I am the fourth titled owner of it. The second was the deceased original purchaser's wife, and the third was my friend who bought it at the estate sale and trailered it home. There was a bunch of stuff in the glovebox, including the window sticker. The car sold cheap because it was considered undriveable, due to a crappy carb overhaul. A carb kit and a fuel pump later, I was driving a 428 powered S55. Small things can make huge differences at times. My '59 Chevy pickup has a similar story, and sat for 25 years because someone thought the generator had to bolt to one of the cobbled up motor mounts it got blessed with. To this day, the guy still thinks it needed some rare one-of-a-kind generator, and that I'm the crazy one. I'm the fourth owner of that one too, the third owner would put a battery charger on it between drives.
     
    buddyamigo likes this.
  30. Just got some help from one of the former owners. We've traced ownership back into Michigan. The earliest name so far is someone well known to many HAMBers: Roy Montgomery. Seems Roy owned the car for a time (not sure how long) but sold it to a guy named Clark sometime in the late 90s. I've been attempting to find when the car got it's treatment (shaving, nosing, decking) and have learned that it was already like that when Mr. Clark bought the car from Roy Montgomery. Did he do the work? Unknown. But Mr. Montgomery was a life-long rodder, builder, racer and owner of R&E Obsolete Ford Parts in Lapeer, MI for many years. His obituary had the following line:
    "Roy owned and operated R&E Obsolete Ford Parts & Service here in Lapeer where he restored many world class award winning classic cars." Here's a picture, posted by another HAMBer, Rickybop, in 2011. I feel privileged to have a car that someone of his caliber worked on and owned.. roy montgomery.jpg
     

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