Wayne Cook
September 1, 2009
Photos By: Mark Houlahan

Troy Pumphrey of Tampa Florida acquired his father's '57 Fairlane hardtop in 2003 when he still lived in Maryland. The family heirloom was a gift from his father's sister Sheila, who knew that even though she had spent many trips at her brother's side in the car, that her brother would have wanted his only son to eventually have the car. When he got the car home a thorough inspection revealed that it was in better condition than might be expected after sitting out in the weather for 10 years. The Fairlane shared garage space and driving duties with Troy's '40 Ford coupe for about six months until Troy decided to sell one of the cars and use the proceeds to restore the other. Since the '57 Ford had been his father's car it was an easy decision to make and the '40 Ford coupe sold within days.

Before tearing the Fairlane apart Troy sought the advice and input from an old Ford fanatic and friend Bob Von Rinteln. Bob is "that guy" in the neighborhood who builds great-looking cars in his huge 80x100 foot home garage. After an inspection and some conversation Bob asked Troy if he had ever thought about putting a late-model engine in his car. Bob mentioned to Troy that Ford Racing Performance Parts produced a number of Signature Series 4.6L Four-Valve engines in 2000 and that they were selling off those that hadn't been installed in SVT Cobra's. Troy contacted Ford Racing and "a credit card number later" a brand-new 4.6L DOHC cammer engine was on its way to his home.

Troy didn't know what direction to take the '57. He hadn't seen very many modified Fairlanes on the road or in magazines, so Troy contacted Jason Rushforth Designs for ideas. It didn't take long for Jason to come up with a number of design and color options. With the motor and design now in hand it was time for Troy to get his hands dirty. With Bob's help, and the use of his vehicle hoist, the two men removed the body from the frame. While waiting for parts to come in Troy completely stripped the underside of the body and frame down to the metal. Next, a Fatman Fabrications Mustang II front suspension was installed using a jig to ensure that the new front-end would fit the car properly without problems with frame or wheel alignment. To ensure the correct geometry with the pedal assemblies they welded in the firewall from a late-model Cobra Mustang to the '57 Fairlane. The result was that the control positions are exact to the Mustang Cobra and the brakes and steering respond and feel "just like a new Mustang." The transmission and driveshaft tunnel were cut from the firewall back to the rear seat and opened up approximately 3 inches. Additional sheetmetal was added and the tunnel was then welded back up, all to clear the taller and wider Tremec trans.

Another issue was how to install a new fuel system. After some research it was determined that a late-model Impala SS fuel tank would fit perfectly between the '57 Fairlane's frame-rails. The fill tube on the Impala tank was also in the correct location. In order to fit the tank properly, the factory spare tire well from the trunk was eliminated. After making the trunk modifications, the rear suspension was addressed. Troy selected a 9-inch axle from Johns Industries. To hold it all together he employed a triangulated four-link system using tall QA1 coilover shocks.

At about this time in the project Troy and his family sold their business in Maryland and retired to Tampa, compounding the project's issues. With the mechanical work nearly com-pleted it was only paint and upholstery left to tackle once settled in the Sunshine State. It would be several months before the Fairlane made its way south and the project could resume, which gave Troy time to research paint shops. Next Level Custom Paint, which is located in Tampa, cut out all the bad metal, performed the required bodywork and modifications to match the Rushforth Designs illustration, and then applied the beautiful Mercedes Red paintjob.