The original dealer decal...
The original dealer decal from South Dakota is still pasted on the rear bumper. And its probably the only one left.
In the early 60s, modifying a car like Curt Cunninghams 56 Ford sedan would have involved some crazy stuff. Customizers back then loved to improve 50s-era cars by tacking on shark fins, adding scoops, changing the beltlines, wiring up more headlights, and making as many alterations as possible until theyd removed every trace of the cars original character. Forty years later were still chuckling at em.
Curt figured if he was going to build a 56 Ford, it ought to look like a 56 Ford. Every modification was planned to improve the cars driveability without detracting from its classic style. He started out with a huge advantage in the form of an all-original, low-mileage, primo-condition Ford Mainline two-door post car. When he bought the 56, it had 44,000 miles on the odometer and still wore the factory paint, chrome trim, and interior upholsteryall in good shape. A little research revealed that the car had originally been purchased by a lady in South Dakota, who traded in her 39 Plymouth coupe for a new Ford.
Recognizing the rarity of his totally original ride, Curt decided to keep it mildon the outside, anyway. Under-neath, the Ford rides on a Dick Easterwoodbuilt chassis, beefed up for a stiffer ride and a tougher profile. Easterwood also upgraded the wiring and welded up a set of exhaust headers for the 425hp Ford 427 FE engine hidden under the hood.
Since its been finished, Curts had the sedan on the road practically every day. We ran across the 56 during last summers Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour, where these photos were taken. We caught up with it again on our Americruise 2001 road trip in July. In fact, Curt (who is the president of Carriage Works Billet Accessories in Grandview, Missouri) was one of the tour leaders. See page 84 of the Dec. 01 R&C for an eyeful of the 56 leading the caravan of rods and customs from Fort Worth to Lincolnwith the Power Tour 2001 decal still on the windshield.
Sure the man was lucky to find such remarkable raw material for his moderately modified resto-custom, but by keeping the rebuild low-key and retaining the cars character, hes created a cool ride that is likely to stay that way for as long as he drives it.