Putting together the engine, a 300hp modified '57 Ford 312 was one of Bill's favorite parts of the project. The Ford ECZ-G heads were ported and polished, and dressed up with Offenhauser valve covers. Bill bored the cylinders 0.040-over and loaded them with Jahns 10:1 pistons. His original plan called for a pair of two-barrel carbs. That idea was scratched for a simple single Holley 600-cfm carb underneath a 14-inch air cleaner. Exhaust blows through headers capped with Smitty's mufflers. He found the Borg-Warner T10 transmission in a '62 Galaxie with a 406 engine, and grabbed the tranny, original Hurst shifter, and white shifter knob for the '55. The 9-inch rearend came from a '57 Ford and spins 3.70:1 gears.
Bill built the chassis starting with the stock '55 'rails and beefed it up with a combination of aftermarket and salvaged parts. Fatman Fabrications provided the 2-inch dropped spindles and 2-inch lowering blocks, which, along with cut front springs, brought the sedan down to a more suitable altitude. The spindles allowed him to improve stopping with disc brakes from a '75 Granada, in addition to '57 drums in the rear.
Bill relied on friends to help conceive a unique look for the Ford. Rejected ideas for custom trim included '55 Customline and '56 Buick trim pieces. Bill's friend, Gary Minner, came up with the winning idea of using '55 Pontiac Chieftain two-door trim. Bill tracked down the needed pieces at a salvage yard in Nebraska. When it arrived, he taped the trim to the '55, ordered pizza and beer, and called his friends over for a look. Everyone approved except Gary Minner. "That's the wrong trim," he announced. Sure enough, the Nebraska salvage yard had delivered Star Chief trim instead of Chieftain trim. Luckily, the yard happened to have one Chieftain on the lot with intact side trim-the trim that now highlights Bill's Ford. The pot metal headlight bezels were replaced with '55 Chevy eyebrows, it was nosed and decked, and the handles and emblems were shaved. With the car finished and properly trimmed, all that was needed was some fresh paint. Donald Clark stepped in again to shoot the DuPont Imron fleet blue.
Wheels and Tires
Stock front and rear rims were capped with '57 Cadillac hubcaps and mated with Coker radial tires.
The crew at Strader's Upholstery in Milford, Delaware, wrapped the stock seats in white vinyl rolls 'n' pleats. Bill opted to keep things pretty close to stock inside, retaining the dash, gauges, steering wheel, and other components, similar to how the car would've been treated in the earlier days of customs. He decided against adding A/C, but did have the radio converted to AM/FM.