This 1961 Ford Starliner owned by George Poteet was a huge hit at the 2021 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals MCACN Show in Chicago. Here, restorer Zach Straits is interviewed by Kevin Oeste of V8TV.
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Here’s the complete restoration story as told by interviewee Zach Straits:
“The Poteet Starliner – A Restoration Story.
This 1961 Starliner Z code FE 390/300 3 speed overdrive started life in California then to North Dakota and for the last 15 years in Mississippi as a part of the George Poteet collection. With only 61k miles this rust free Starliner was a real pleasure to restore for George. The intent was to over restore beyond factory original concentrating panel gaps, flat panels and a high-end finish but maintaining the stock appearance void of a few trim pieces. The chrome, aluminum and stainless trim re-installed on the original Cambridge Blue metallic paint begged to be perfect. That’s where the restoration started. All pieces except for a few stainless trim pieces was taken to Jon Wright’s Custom Chrome in Grafton, Ohio for a show chrome finish even on the aluminum parts. The car was completely disassembled bagged and tagged and after the undercarriage was dustless blasted the body and suspension parts were taken locally to Devils Bowl Autobody.
All agree Starliners have great lines but the eight-foot quarter panels, huge hood and trunk and all the sheet metal came from the factory a little wavy. Brad at Devil’s Bowl spent over 1,089 hours hand sanding and flattening every panel inside and out. Hours were spent on the panel gaps and getting the signature tail light surrounds and fin caps to fit perfectly. Axalta finishes were applied and wet sanded and buffed then after complete assembly Max from MX Autocare completed a final paint correction getting the surfaces perfect.
The original 390 FE engine was sent to Jeff Burns Racing Engines in Tupelo where with the help of Alan Hutcheson “Hutch”, the caretaker of the Poteet Car Farm Collection, did a complete rebuilt dyno-ed exactly at 300HP. The original 4 barrel carb was sent to ford expert and historian Don Brown for a complete factor finish and working order restoration. The original 3 speed overdrive was rebuilt by transmission experts Earl McCary and Richard Miller of Staunton, Va. Alan Completed the rebuild of the original 3:50 gear 3rd member. Hutch also sourced the many crates of restoration parts.
The frame was powder coated by Power Coating Solutions and all the suspension parts were body worked and shot with industrial single stage paint by Devil’s Bowl. 1957 Ford body mounts were lightly modified and the body was set back on the frame with the help of John and Kay at Classic Motorsports.
The interior seat insert fabric on any blue Galaxie is tough to get a good match to the SMS door panels so we used door panel vinyl on the get the correct match. George Folks of Waynesboro Upholstery did an excellent job making and installing the seat covers and installing the headliner before the glass installation. The original back package tray was taken to “Hemi” Eddie Strzelecki Jr. for the first fiberglass reproduction for a 1961 Starliner.
All new glass was purchased from Auto City Classic and installed by Augusta Glass. The stainless trim down the side and around the glass was polished by local professional polisher Stewart Peters.
This restoration would not have been possible without the help of a lot of friends. Especially Scott Balsley who partnered with me for a combined 1,217 hours of restoration time.”
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