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Old 07-10-2008, 02:08 PM
56 Ford Custom
 
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Need expert advice on 56 ford car

Hello everyone.

A little introduction.

I have a 1956 Ford 2 door custom car that sat and weathered for years. My parents actually dated in this car, and he parked it for years thinking if he ever had a son we would rebuild it, etc..

So, when i was 15 we drug it home and did just that. We took the body off the frame, fixed what needed it, repainted it. We did all the body/floor work, sanded, primed, all that. Removed all interior and had the backseat redone, and actually found some bucket swivel seats out of an old monte carlo and used that in the front. Love those!

It had an old rusted 390 in it, and we got our hands on a good running 307 chevy and trans, so we just decided to redo the mounts and install that.

Currently, other than wheels, rear end, tires, GT steering wheel and ratchet shifter in the floor, its otherwise pretty stock, as for frame, suspension....

It has been parked for about 14 years, in my shop and covered, so its still in great shape. I am now at a point where i have a little time and funds to work on it again, and really want to get back into it.

To the questions I have...

I want to put some good horsepower in this car. I realize as is, it could only handle so much. How much? I would like 400+, but I think that would take a lot of work to handle it? Could I put 300-350 HP in her without tearing everything up? Or is this still more that it should take with no modifications? I am considering a crate motor...

The main thing I am worried about is the rear end, suspension, brakes (currently 4 wheel drum), no power steering. Being fairly new at much of this, I just dont know what should be done to keep it safe and not tear major things up.

Oh, it also sways/rocks ALOT. My friends in high school used to ride in the back and just laugh, it would get to rocking back and forth so bad, it was like an amusement park ride. I need to do something about that too.

What is my main objective for the car? Well, to be honest, I want some power, and just to cruise around. I am not looking for top end,, more looking for torque. I wont be running 100mph down the interstate, or taking long trips.

Should I consider putting another frame under it, with better suspension and disk brakes? Or should I buy the disk brake conversion kit they sell for this car? Something different?

Thanks for any help everyone, am itching to get this beauty back out and on the road.

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Last edited by ctfortner; 07-10-2008 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:36 PM
 
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My friend's Mother age 61 (and Dad) has a 56 Ford 2 dr post with a Mopar 440 - 727- and 8 3/4 in it. Ya, she used to have a Hemi Cuda in the old days. Really. Dad drives a 69 Charger six pack.

Upgraded modern shocks and rebuilt suspension pieces work well. Salvage yard disc brakes and anti-roll bars are available. It drives well, and goes like HELL.

Last edited by ScoTFrenzel; 07-10-2008 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 07-11-2008, 08:30 AM
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Thanks for the reply.

Thats where I get a little lost. So I could use disk brakes from something else at a salvage yard? How would I know what I could use, and how to switch them over?

I was talking to my dad last night about it, since I cant remember half the stuff we did 15 years ago. He also said we removed the ford 9" rear end and put in an oldsmobile (he thinks) rear end, that is not going to be very suitable for much power. So it probably needs replacing. Should I rebuild the 9" and put back in, or use another one?

Since this car originally had a V6 in it, it was a pain getting that V8 in there. Since we switched it to a chevy motor, we had to do a lot of things to make it work. Custom work to make the radiator fit, had to cut the firewalll out and custom make a piece to allow room for the motor. He also said the tranny we put in didnt fit real good either, i forget the model of it. The bell housing was too big and we had to do some work to get that to fit.

So anyway, it seems like there would be a lot to do get this thing right, I just dont know what all to do, or how to do it. If I upgrade motors, I will probably need to upgrade the tranny too, just guessing.

Do you recommend a place or type of upgraded shocks and suspension pieces? I am not really sure what to look for.

Thanks,
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Old 07-11-2008, 08:53 AM
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Since there was no V6 built in those days( not Ford), it was probably an inline 6. V8s were an option and were larger than the 307 you were/did install, so the "room" issue is puzzling.Especially after pulling a 390,which is enormous in comparison to the 307. They used Y-blocks with a rear dist. like the Chevy. I think there is even mounts still available from the aftermarket. Hurst and Ansen were 2 makers and Trans-Dapt offers them today. Disc brake kits are also available from the aftermarket for those cars too. I would get a heavier anti-roll bar, or install one. That was the era when they were first being applied and are pretty small. The suggestion of heavier shocks is also a good addition. SBC are/were a common swap so it should be easier than it sounds like it's going for you. Any of the improvements can be done with junkyard components, but they need some adaption which seems a little beyond your abilities. The cost of the aftermarket stuff, while having more out of pocket expense initially, has 2 advantages. It will probably be less,overall, than the labor for someone else to do and the parts will be new and readily available.
Unless the 9" was installed at a later point, it would be something else. They didn't come out until later. Depending on what Olds? rearend it is, it should be able to hold up to the 307 if the 390 didn't break it. They were a common rearend in early rails.
Finally I would suggest you seek some local help, because you seem to be out of your ability range and can only benefit from the knowledge of someone with ability. www.gearheadcity.com
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Old 07-11-2008, 12:26 PM
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Your right, I meant inline 6, not V6.

I am not sure about the space issue. it wasnt that it was too large to fit, but things had to be modified, as mentioned. Also, there is no room for headers, maybe custom ones, but I always wanted to add headers and could not, as there was not room for them to fit.

I havent been under the hood in a while, plan to do that this weekend. The 390 was really tight, from what I recall, but agree, its a much larger engine and putting a 307 should be simpler. Maybe its because we went with a chevy, versus a 302 or something, as far as having to modify things more to fit better? I am thinking about going back to a ford motor, either a 302 or 351. All up in the air right now.

I have seen the disk brake kits for my car, for around $1000. I may just do that, but if there was an easier, cheaper way, I wanted to check that out first.

Not sure about the rear end, but i know for sure its a ford 9 inch we removed and still have. I had a hot rod buddy years ago begging me to sell it to him, because they were hard to come by. But i kept it. I have no clue if it was added later or what.

The reason I mentioned problems with the current rear end, is that my dad said when he drove it with the 390, he did have contious problems with the rear end, with the 390 in it and said he wouldnt consider putting a stouter motor in without replacing it with something else.

I agree, much of this is out of my current know how. However, I am quite capable of doing things like this, if I understand what should be done, and what should be used. That is what I am seeking is what should I do, and I will figure out how to get it done, or find someone who can help get it done.

My dad also has the know how, but much less of the desire to do it anymore. It was all him (and me helping at 15 years old) that did the custom work before as far as removing the body from the frame, rewelding the motor mounts, firewall mods, radiator adjustments, transmission workarounds, rear end rebuilding, etc.. He thinks I should put a v6 in it. Not gonna happen

I also have a couple of friends who are very capable of doing most anything with cars, I am just searching for the right things to do
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Old 07-11-2008, 03:30 PM
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I'd go the route you are thinking, a 302 or 351W or maybe a 302 stroked to 347 (can't stand a crossbreed, even if I'm a Chevy guy), a good built C4 auto transmission, and rebuild the 9" rear. Replace the rear springs(and maybe the fronts),rebuild the front suspension, add a larger front sway bar, new shocks and the disc brake conversion. The wore out suspension is where all your "rock 'n roll" is coming from . Neat car, you don't see as many as the same year Chevy.
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Old 07-11-2008, 03:42 PM
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thanks eric. Your right, you see a lot of chevys in the 55-56, but I have never seen another 56 ford driving around locally. I got a lot of looks/stops/offers when i used to drive it. Kind of miss that

Believe me, I got a lot of grief over the years for having a "heinz 57" or "ford-elet"

I have been christmas shopping/wishing currently at some 302 crate engines. I will soon have to have one i am afraid.

Ok, I have been looking all over, where is a good place to find these parts? Such as the sway bar kits, suspension rebuild kits? I been looking all over for a sway bar kit (model/year specific) and am not having much luck.

Here is the other question. I dont think after these 15 or so years that I still have all the guts the ford 9". If I dont, should I still go that route you think, or would it be too costly at that point?
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Old 07-11-2008, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctfortner
I dont think after these 15 or so years that I still have all the guts the ford 9". If I dont, should I still go that route you think, or would it be too costly at that point?
The 56 Fords did NOT have a 9 inch Ford rear end. The 9 inch did not come out until 1957. . A 1957 to 1959 Ford 9 inch passenger car rear end would bolt in. I believe I would find a decent Ford engine, a matching automatic and fit them into the 56.

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Old 07-11-2008, 05:28 PM
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Your Ford 9" is the standard hot rod rear and lots of parts for it so tha tis what I would do..Can't beat cubic inches so I would go with the 351 windsor..lots of those around and they go in just fine,stroke it to a 392 if you need more beans under the hood..,If you get a late model donor like say out of a pickup you get the aod trans and ford performance has the stand alone computer for doing that..Finding a donor vehicle to get the pieces out of can save a whole bunch of grief and money..

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Old 07-12-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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I did a 56 Crown 3 years ago.

Ford 9 inch is superior, even in the light duty version.
The old OLDS rear from the 50s was the popular rear until the Ford 9 came out in 57.

72-78 frame type Torino, 77-78 TBird, and 71-72 Galaxie disc brake spindles and rotors compete bolt right on and are the same wheel bolt pattern. Use the dual master cylinder and brass combination valve from the donor car.
I am not sure if the anti-roll bars can be made to fit. Somebody makes them.

Kanter and others make suspension rebuild kits. I prefer poly/urethane bushings over rubber.

Engine choice is subjective, I would suggest a Mustang GT 5.0 HO/Lincoln Mk7 LSC full fuel injection engine with AOD or T-5. It would have good power and get 24 mpg. Otherwise I would have stayed with the Ford 390.
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:01 AM
56 Ford Custom
 
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Thanks for the info Scot.

I am going to see what all I still have for the ford 9", I think over the years we have misplaced some of the guts, so I am not sure what all I still have for it.

I have a friend who owns a local salvage yard, so I am going to check with him and see what they may have that could work.

The 390 is long gone, we sold it back 15 plus years ago. So when its time for a new motor, I will have to buy/build one either way...

While good MPG would be a great thing, this will be more of a "date" or cruiser car, not an everyday driver by any means, so I am more geared towards good HP and torque, than I am MPG. I thought about a fuel injected motor, but I do love the sound of a good carbeurated motor

How difficult is the suspension rebuild? Never done one of those? Can this be done in the standard workshop, or do you need/prefer to have a lift to do this, which I dont have yet.

Took a couple of pics this weekend, here is a few of the motor, and interior. Little dirty, since its been years since I have touched it. You can also see where we cut the firewall and made a custom piece to allow things to fit. Got to love those bucket swivel seats....
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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NICE
The suspension is easily done at home on jack stands. I does take some patience and a little know how. Nothing beyond ordinary skills.

The Olds rear is plenty stout. Run it.
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:09 AM
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The suspension rebuild is mostly parts changing..As far as a lift get one of these or something similar..

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=42820

Just a link for reference..I have one and it works fine for all I need to do and lifts the car high enough to get under there more comfortably..Of course use jack stands..
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:33 AM
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Thanks guys. I should be able to do that without any problem then. I have emailed kanter about the parts I need to see if they have them.

Let me show some rookieness here.

Why is it, as mentioned above, that the 390 fit in this car when the ol' man drove it (which he put in himself), tight, but it did fit. There are people out there who put big blocks in these cars, such as this one I saw for sale with a 466 in it Car Here and doesnt look like he even cut the firewall.

So why with a 307 chevy did it cause us a few space issues? Is this a difference in motors, or is this a difference in removing factory parts/pieces and putting them in other locations to all more room? Like I mentioned a few posts up, we tried to install headers on this 307 years ago and room didnt allow, so I am trying to process how others are installing big blocks, blowers, headers and whatever else they want.

And Scott, on the cars and years you posted that the disc brakes should match, is this just knowledge over the years, or is there any kind of online or other reference to find this kind of stuff?

Thanks,
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:09 PM
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I've seen a bunch of FE engines(what a 390 is) installed over the years and that's why I don't quite understand the mounting issues you have. I have to believe that the approach is all wrong. I also know that sbc's are fit in pretty regularly. The only thing I know for sure is that the Ford is a front sump and the sbc is rear. If you are letting the sump dictate the set of the engine that could be where your problem is occuring. However, without a pic or 2 of WHAT you are trying to accomplish and how, it would be like shooting at stars.
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