Mustang MonthlyFeatured Vehicles
1963 Ford Fairlane 500 Packs 498 inches of Punch
When you're born into a family with deep roots in the custom car world it's easy to see an established path. For Greg Smith of Syracuse, New York, all his youthful memories revolve around a sea of hop-ups always being parked in the family driveway and workshop since his dad Lenny's talents were sought after by a stream of enthusiasts starting in the late '60s. Regardless of whether it was for custom fabrication and paint or wild driveline conversions it was commonplace to come home from school to see everything from Shelby Cobras to Yenko Novas, hot rods, chopped Mercs, and even choppers being worked on.
Greg channeled his early creativity through plastic kit models at the kitchen table while also attending plenty of motorcycle events since his dad was an avid racer on the local and national circuit. There was also plenty of time spent at the dragstrip where he could wander the pits to check out the action firsthand, seeing his heroes working on their cars while prepping for eliminations. It was the scent of burnt rubber and nitromethane however that captured his soul, never letting go. As the years passed his dad opened Kolorcraft in the '70s to continue all of the custom work and Greg wasted no time in joining the ranks.
Having always been a fan of Bob Tasca's original 1963 Ford Thunderbolt he imagined owning it for decades. Finally after a long conversation with his cousin Dean Smith who lives in Arizona, the pair agreed to start a search for a suitable donor car to bring the build to life. It wasn't long until Dean located not one but two 1963 Ford Fairlane 500s in a local junkyard. The rollers (less drivelines and interiors) were rust free and between the pair, Greg could put together the makings of one good car. A deal was made for $1,000 and the cars were shipped to his shop for evaluation. Once unloaded, he paired the best parts into one car and got started.
Once the car was disassembled it was time to start on a solid base. The factory frame was rock solid so it was blasted clean and handed over to Raulli Race Cars of Weedsport to work their magic. They installed a Crites Performance Parts original Thunderbolt-styled traction bar setup and subframe connectors along with staggered leaf springs from Eaton Detroit Spring and Viking Performance coilover shocks. A Ford 9-inch rear was then set in place, packed with a Moser Engineering aluminum centersection with matching 40-spline axles turning 4.30:1 gears. Up front the factory IFS was refreshed and complemented by a pair of 90/10 shocks from Calvert Racing. The team also mini-tubbed the rear body to accommodate wider rubber.
When you've gotta stop nothing does it better than pushing fluid through a Wilwood dual master linked to stainless lines meeting Wilwood 11-inch discs at each corner. To harness the power to the street a set of nostalgic Radir 15-inch Tri-Ribb III wheels wear Mickey Thompson drag radials out back and Hankook rubber up front.
Wanting to inject plenty of venom into the build Greg needed a wicked V-8 between the framerails. He contacted Jim Thomas Performance of Syracuse to build a fire-breather starting with an aluminum 427ci Ford FE-type block from Robert Pond Motorsports, which they bored and stroked to 498 ci. Inside you'll find a Scat steel crank linked to matching H-beam rods wearing RaceTec 13:1 pistons urged by a stick from COMP Cams. Up top a pair of Survival Motorsports FElony aluminum heads massaged and ported by Keith Craft, were deftly matched to a custom Hogan's Racing sheetmetal intake topped by a pair of Quick Fuel 650-cfm carbs wearing a Dove Manufacturing original-style Thunderbolt airbox. An MSD ignition sparks it all to life with headers from Mad Dog dumping the gases to a custom stainless 3-inch exhaust with Borla mufflers. Dynoed at 745 hp at 7,000 rpm, the goods move through a 1968 Ford Top Loader four-speed to a custom driveshaft.
There's nothing better than starting with a clean rust-free shell when it comes time to starting bodywork and prepping for paint. The only section Greg had to replace was the taillight panel, which he located an N.O.S. section for. The team at Kolorcraft then brought the vintage sheetmetal back to life, metal-finished the body, and set all the gaps. A Crites Performance Thunderbolt-style hood was then modified to raise the center 3 inches to accommodate the engine air intake. Greg then loaded his spray gun with Martin Senour Jet Black and laid down a mile-deep vibe accented by a vivid red inlay to the side moldings. Inside the factory dash was restored, including the original gauges accented by additional dials from Auto Meter. An original steering wheel sets the course while shifts move through a billet unit from Hurst. To add a custom touch, a pair of 1964 Dodge D100 seats were handed over to El Sol Auto Upholstery in Liverpool to cover in vibrant red vinyl with silver piping while also laying down the complementing red loop carpeting, installing the headliner and side panels from Innovation Interiors. This is one hot street shaker thundering through the streets of Syracuse on a regular basis and to us that's just plain cool!
COMP Companies Tech Tip:
How Do I Keep Trash out of My Stacks?
Inglese Metal Screen Filters are the best way to keep larger trash and debris from becoming lodged within a custom Inglese EFI System. They are designed to bolt into place out of sight between the throttle body and stacks.