Fifties Fords still a hit with hot rodders

by Larry D'Argis . Nov 09 2018
Wally Mazurek bought this 1955 Ford Mainline Tudor sedan in Landis, Sask., in 1973. It has been a recurring project of his ever since. (Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press)

Wally Mazurek bought this 1955 Ford Mainline Tudor sedan in Landis, Sask., in 1973. It has been a recurring project of his ever since. (Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press)

The mid-’50s Ford line has long been a favourite with enthusiasts looking to build a street machine or hot rod. The cars are easily adaptable to accommodate larger and more modern powertrains and improved brake and suspension packages — and the resulting builds range from comfortable cruisers to nostalgia gassers.

Totally redesigned from the 1954 model, the 1955 Ford was a style leader. Longer, lower and wider, with new interior features and improved Y-Block V-8 power, it’s a pretty lively ride as is.

The base model was the Mainline. Available in Canada as a two-door or four-door sedan, as well as a sedan delivery, it was stylish for an entry-level model. These base models were void of the usual stainless brightwork and posh interior appointments of the Customline and Fairlane series, yet they were just as roomy and lighter in weight.

For Wally Mazurek of Winnipeg, his quest started in 1973 while he was living in Saskatoon.

“I was looking for a mid-’50s Chevy and a friend tipped me off about a car in Landis, Sask.,” Mazurek says.

Buried in snow up to the roofline, it took some digging to determine this was a 1955 Ford Mainline Tudor sedan and not a Chevy, but Mazurek liked the car and bought it.

It was in rough shape and had already been transformed into someone’s idea of a hot rod, including missing bumpers and a crude sheet-metal hood scoop. The original 272 Y-Block V-8 had been replaced with a 1963 vintage 260 V-8 and floor-mounted three-speed manual transmission.

With the engine not running, Mazurek installed a 332-cubic-inch V-8 and manual transmission from a 1958 Ford, and began sourcing new parts to replace the hood and other missing items, before giving the car a repaint. He drove the Ford for a couple of years, then installed a larger 390 V-8 and continued to enjoy it as a summer driver until he placed it in storage in 1990 before moving to Winnipeg.

In 2000 Mazurek brought the car to Winnipeg and started taking it to the next phase.

He removed the corrosion in the floor pans and rear quarter panels by welding in new metal, before he repainted it a rich Midnight Blue.

The brightwork includes stainless steel rocker and lower front fender mouldings, along with rechromed bumpers and a new chrome grille from Dennis Carpenter Reproductions.

New shocks, suspension and steering components, along with new brake lines, were installed. Disc brakes, front spindles and a dual master brake cylinder from a mid-’70s Ford Granada were used for the brake upgrade.

The wheels are vintage 15-inch Rocket Racing five-spoke units, which have been powder-coated and shod with Kelly Springfield radial tires.

For the powertrain, Mazurek had the 390 V-8 rebuilt, bored 0.030-inch over and fitted with a Lunati performance camshaft. It’s topped with a fully ported set of cylinder heads, Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold and 650 CFM Holley four-barrel carburetor.

Exhaust duties are handled by a set of Hooker headers leading to a 2.5-inch diameter custom dual exhaust system with turbo mufflers.

Backing the big-block Ford V-8 is a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission with Hurst Competition Plus shifter. The rear axle was replaced with a nine-inch housing from a 1957 Ford station wagon and fitted with a 3.00:1 gearset in a Ford Traction-Lok unit.

Inside, the interior was updated with the charcoal-leather front buckets and rear seat from a 2002 Hyundai XG350. Custom door panels, along with a new headliner and black carpet, complete the passenger compartment.

The dash retains its optional factory AM radio and electric clock. A glovebox-mounted JVC stereo supplies the road tunes, while a Motorola tachometer and a trio of Sun gauges monitor the under-hood functions.

Doing most of the work himself, including the paint, Mazurek completed the Ford in 2017 and offers thanks to his friend Larry Ormiston for the use of his shop in East Selkirk.

Future plans for the Ford include the addition of power steering to make it a bit more cruiser-friendly.

Like their Chevrolet counterparts, the mid-’50s Fords are becoming more popular.

With the abundance of powertrains, reproduction parts and chassis and suspension upgrades now available, it’s easier to build that street machine to take you to cruise night or on a cross-country power tour.

57ford@mymts.net

Mazurek had the 390 V-8 rebuilt, bored 0.030-inch over and fitted with a Lunati performance camshaft. (Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press)

Mazurek had the 390 V-8 rebuilt, bored 0.030-inch over and fitted with a Lunati performance camshaft. (Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press)

Backing the sedan’s V-8 engine is a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission. (Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press)

Backing the sedan’s V-8 engine is a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission. (Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press)