Owned by Rick & Patti Cabaniss, Seffner, Florida
When we decided that we wanted to own a classic car, I went in search of a car that had some special meaning to an event or person in my early childhood years. My first choice was a 1961 Ford Starliner. My Uncle John Bayer had a red with white top Starliner that he allowed me to drive once in a while when he was home from the service. It had a 390, three-on-the-tree with overdrive. I remember not being able to clean that huge back window. Growing up we had many Galaxies in our family; a blue 59 four-door, a copper 62 four-door, a 65 green four-door, but Grandpa Bayer had a 62 Galaxie two-door with a 390, 4-speed and buckets seats.
In 1995, I asked my wife Patti if I could go in search of that 61 Starliner, boy was I in for a big surprise. They are out there, but lord knows they come at a hefty price. So, I came to realize that I had to settle for my second choice, a 1963 Galaxie convertible. I remember my fifth-grade teacher (my big crush), that owned a new 63 blue convertible. I do not know if I liked her or the car more. The following year, as I entered my first day of school, I was excited to see her as my teacher once again. Unbeknown to me, over the summer she got married. Then I learned she traded the convertible in and got some other car….a 64 Chevy. I was crushed.
Anyway, back to the 63 search… almost 3 years I went looking for that 63 red 390, 4-speed convertible. I saw so many that didn’t meet my; red, 352, automatic, 6-cylinder, black, 390. Nothing that I wanted, so I kept looking and I finally found one that met 3 of the 4 things I was looking for. In 1998 in Columbia, SC I found a 1963 blue, 390 4-speed convertible. I flew up on a Saturday morning, drove it, loved it, gave him a deposit and would be back in a week with a trailer and the cash balance. A friend had a truck and drag racing trailer, so off we went to bring our gal home to Seffner, Florida.
Over the course of the next 4 years, I made payments to the bank, until she was paid for. We drove her everywhere; what a beauty. No one else had a 63 convertible at the car shows and we drove to many. We helped start a local chapter of the Ford Galaxie Club of America with Wayne Haynes, (who I met by chance looking for a Galaxie jack). Wayne and I grew the chapter to over 35 members before our one-year anniversary. The chapter, GalaxieLand Southeast, hosted the 2004 Galaxie Nations at Daytona Beach Speedway, in conjunction with the annual Turkey Rod Run event with 80+ cars in attendance. The next year, we did an on-frame restoration, engine, transmission, new top, and new interior, new paint.
In 2005, along with 2 other Florida couples; Bob & Iris Brown, the original owner of a 66 Galaxie 390 4-speed and Walter & Nora Early in their 64 candy apple red Galaxie, off we went to Detroit for the 2005 Galaxie Nationals. What an adventure that was. We have pictures of our 63 Galaxie in front of “Ford World Headquarters”. Many Starliners were at that show as well.
In October 2012, we took our 63 Galaxie along with two other Florida couples; Jim & Rose Polk in their 64 Galaxie and Steve & Silvia Clary in their 59 hard-flip-top convertible, drove to Dawsonville, Georgia for the annual Moonshine Festival. While we were there, we saw at least 8 or 9 Starliners at that event. I spotted one that had just completed a four-year frame-off restoration but at $70k, the price was a bit much for me. However, I talked to every Starliner owner and expressed my desire to find an affordable one. There is nothing like a 61 Starliner, as they say, “IT IS ONE OF A KIND”.
When we returned home to Florida, the quest for that classic 61 Starliner would not go away. I began to search everywhere again. I scoured Ebay, Craigslist, car shows, and classic car dealers. Finally, in October of 2013, my dreams looked more promising than ever. I found one on Ebay that did not sell. No one bid on it because the owner’s niece had it listed as a 1961 Ford OTHER. I talked to the owner in Denver… told him I wanted to buy his car if we could agree on a price.
Now came the easy part, I came home from work on Monday, told Patti I was flying to Denver on Friday. She asked me when I would be back, I said Saturday afternoon. She asked why I was going, I said to get our 61 Starliner. She replied “for real? Get outta here”. I said I will on Friday, she smiled at me of course. I flew out on Friday morning, rented a car, drove to see the Starliner. How could anyone say no to a 1961 tri-powered 406 4-speed Starliner? I called the transport driver, loaded her on the truck, bound for California before returning to Florida. I flew home the next morning. It was meant to be, it all fell into place, and she was here a week later.
Last summer we drove the Starliner from Seffner to Biloxi, MS for the annual Cruising the Coast show and we will be heading back to Dawsonville again in October, only this time I will have my 61 Starliner. We finally sold our 63 of 14 years. She was a wonderful convertible for all those years. Many miles, many shows, lots of fine people along the way. I still miss her, but we are now ready to enjoy the many miles and years we have left to enjoy our 61 Starliner. I know we made the right choice, we waited just long enough.
If you do not have your classic car of choice yet, keep looking, keep trying, she is out there waiting for you to come to take her home. Dreams do come true, might have to wait, but keep dreaming, you too can have the Galaxie of Your Dreams.