Ford Authority

1953 Ford Crestline Sunliner Indy 500 Tribute Car Up For Auction

Quite a few Ford pace cars have crossed the auction block this year, including the first 1989 Fox Body Ford Mustang LX Indy 500 Pace Car, and another 1994 Mustang SVT Cobra that led the Indy field around the track. Two iterations of the 1978 Mustang 428 Cobra Jet pace car also sold at Barret-Jackson back in January. Yet another race-inspired Blue Oval vehicle has cropped up for sale on Bring A Trailer, but this one is a bit older: the 1953 Ford Crestline Sunliner Indy 500 Pace Car edition.

This particular vehicle never actually hit the race track ahead a pack of snarling race cars, but it was one of 2,000 units built for the 1953 model year to commemorate the actual vehicle used to pace the Indy 500 that year. It’s finished with Anniversary Gold and Black accents over a White Sungate Ivory exterior with a special set of decals that commemorate the race on May 30th, 1953. It also sports a power-operated white convertible top and classic chrome bumpers and trim, as well as spotlights mounted on the A-pillars.

This 1953 Ford Crestline Sunliner rolls on a set of 15-inch steel wheels finished in gold wrapped in Firestone whitewall tires, and there’s even a full-size spare mounted in the trunk. It features four-wheel drum brakes for stopping power, and sources power from a 239 cubic-inch flathead V8 engine, good for 110 horsepower, mated to a Ford-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission.

Front and rear bench seats make for a comfortable ride, finished in white and gold vinyl upholstery with color-coordinated door panels. Its analog dash features a clock, heater and push-button radio, along with a speedometer that caps out at 100 mph. The odometer displays approximately 43,000 miles, although the listing notes that true mileage is unknown. It recently underwent service on its brakes, carburetor and electrical system. The auction will close on November 9th, 2022.

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Alexandra is a Colorado-based journalist with a passion for all things involving horsepower, be it automotive or equestrian.

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  1. Steve

    My Mom had a 1953 Crestline 4 door in green w/a white top that also had the last year flathead V8 with a three on the tree. It also had a heater, radio and clock, back up lights and the rear fender skirts. I believe power windows, or as Ford called them “power window lifts” and a power seat where not available till 1954. The car was a 19th birthday gift for my Mom, who was an only child, and my Dad, who was her friend at the time, drove the car home from the dealership as my Mom did not know how to drive a stick and my grandparents did not own a car and never did. We had that car in the family until 1971. I have very fond memories of riding in the backseat with my siblings as a young child and Mom rowing through those gears. I have framed one of the same wheel covers that is pictured on the car.

  2. The Gentle Grizzly

    I thought the Ford-O-Matic that far back was a two-speed?

  3. grumpyunk

    Ford-O-Matic was actually a 3-speed if you selected Lo using the shift lever. The transmission normally started in what was actually 2nd gear. I believe it was based on a Bord-Warner design that was pretty popular with auto makers of the time, being used in one form or another by multiple makers. The first gear was finally put to use regularly in the 1959 version labeled Cruise-O-Matic, which had ‘green dot’ position on the indicator which used all three. The other ‘dot’ started in 2nd gear for less slippage when on icy/rainy/etc surfaces. The reduced torque allowed the tires to transfer power without causing the wheels to spin.


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