Rod & Custom Feature Car
W.R. "Bill" Story
Mission Viejo, California
1956 Ford Park Lane Wagon
Bill Story's wagon sits on the frame it came from the factory with, and while there are no radical modifications, it now handles and stops way better than it did 54 years ago! Granada spindles and disc brakes, with a master cylinder and booster from ABS, go some way toward that, as does a custom 1 1/8-inch antiroll bar on the front and a GM 605 steering box. Cut front springs and de-arched rear leaves, along with lowering blocks, get the ride height down, with gas-adjustable KYB shocks up front and Monroe-matic shocks in back.
Ford-in-a-Ford purists will be pleased to hear there's a 345hp, 302HO Ford crate motor under the wagon's louvered hood, with a COMP cam installed to bring the torque peak down to the 2,000- to 2,500-rpm range. Under the Mooneyes air cleaner there's an Edelbrock 500-cfm carb and Performer manifold. A Flex-a-lite fan keeps the coolant temperature down in a modified copper and brass Walker radiator, while ceramic-coated, cast-iron exhaust manifolds feed the carbon monoxide to MagnaFlow mufflers. A Ford AOD trans with a modified valvebody takes care of power transfer to the Dana 44 rearend.
Body & Paint
Working from the front, the wagon has a filled and smoothed bumper, '55 Olds headlight doors and relocated headlights, louvered hood, shaved handles, and shortened side trim. The centersection of a '57 Chevy truck grille inside the stock outer trim works well, the idea coming to Bill while walking the aisles of the Long Beach swap meet. The vent windows and gas filler door were deleted, the latter now behind a drop-down taillight. The rear wheel arches were raised 3 inches, while an eyebrow was added to the rear bumper above four exhaust tips. Bill says, "I've liked four centered tailpipes ever since the Ala Kart debuted." A similar eyebrow was added to the tailgate, above a recess for the license plate. Having driven the car for a short time without the liftgate section fitted, Bill liked the large opening, so he modified a late-model Mustang windshield to become the full-width liftgate glass, which brings the rear view of the car up to date.
Wheels & Tires
Billet Specialties Apex-G legend wheels are the perfect addition to the wagon, offering a performance look without being overly flashy. With 17s all around, the rears are 8 inches wide with the fronts 1 inch narrower. The 255/50 and 215/55 Kumho tires were fitted respectively.
Starting with a Cadillac six-way power split bench seat, the spacious wagon interior now boasts walnut-colored Ultra-Leather, a custom-designed headliner, German square-weave wool carpet, Hot Rod Air A/C with Vintage Air controls, New Port Engineering wipers, electric windows, a custom dash with Classic Instruments "stainless series" gauges, custom armrest seat controllers, and a Budnik "Stringer" wheel on an ididit column. Bill also installed a stereo system comprising a Pioneer head unit with Alpine amp and a fold-down armrest that houses the audio sources, including XM Radio, iPod, CD audio, and GPS. All this is wired using an American Autowire harness.