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.

While the Fairlane was at Next Level the challenge was to find someone with the expertise to sort through the massive amount of wiring required. After consulting a number of different sources, including Ford dealers and racing shops in the Tampa area, Troy was beginning to think he'd have to ship the 'Lane back to Maryland for wiring. Troy finally found Eric Reynolds. Eric is a guy with both a love of Fords and considerable expertise in automotive wiring. "His love of Fords and automotive wiring is scary!" Troy tells us. After getting the car back from paint, Eric got busy and installed an engine management setup using the Telorvek system from the Detail Zone of Wilmington, Delaware. After about four months of working evenings and weekends Eric had completely rewired the car. He installed the complex engine management system and then hid most of the wiring for a very clean and professional installation.

The upholstery was another challenge. Troy's first go around didn't end well when the upholstery shop didn't see eye to eye with Troy's thoughts on professionalism and work cleanliness. Then Troy was introduced to the Cimo brothers and the job was ably met by Cimo & Cimo Custom Upholstery where the fresh red and black leather interior was custom-stitched by one of the 83-year-old Cimo brothers, who still come to work a few days a week to keep their fingers nimble after more than 50 years in business! Catalina Custom Upholstery tackled the headliner, carpet, and door panels to finish off the freshened interior.

Leaving no stone unturned Troy has taken extraordinary care in the completion of his '57 Fairlane project and it shows. His practice of careful consultation with experts combined with his own tender loving care has resulted in the finessed Fairlane seen here.

The Details
Troy Pumphrey's '57 Fairlane Hardtop

Engine

  • 4.6L Four-Valve Modular V-8
  • BBK cold air intake
  • Aeromotive fuel rails
  • Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator
  • Moroso aluminum expansion tank
  • Canton aluminum power steering tank
  • Canton aluminum remote oil filter
  • Custom radiator cover
  • Jegs braided hoses
  • Jegs anodized hose ends
  • Telorvek EFI management system and harness

Transmission

  • Tremec five-speed

Rearend

  • Johns Industries 9-inch
  • 31-spline axles
  • 3.70 gears
  • Traction-Lok differential

Exhaust

  • Running Great 2½-inch custom exhaust system
  • Bassani off-road X-style crossover
  • Flowmaster 40-series mufflers
  • MagnaFlow chrome tips

Suspension

  • Front: Fatman Fabrication Mustang II, polished stainless upper and lower control arms, power rack-and-pinion steering, dropped spindles, Air Ride Technologies Shockwave air suspension, polished antisway bar
  • Rear: Air Ride Technologies triangulated four-link system, QA1 Pro-drag rear coilover shocks

Brakes

  • Front: Mustang-based 11-inch disc, single-piston caliper
  • Rear: Explorer-based 11-inch disc, single-piston caliper

Wheels

  • Front: Intro Wheels Retro billet aluminum, 18x7
  • Rear: Intro Wheels Retro billet aluminum, 20x8.5

Tires

  • Front: Nitto NT555 Extreme, P235/40ZR18
  • Rear: Nitto NT555 Extreme, P255/35ZR20

Interior

  • Modified original '57 Ford dashboard, one off designed Classic Gauges, Billet Specialties custom aluminum A/C vents, door handles, Watson's Street Works aluminum knobs and switches, Vintage Air Gen II A/C system, Vintage Air custom aluminum control panel, Ididit steering column, Budnik steering wheel, Lokar aluminum emergency foot brake pedal assembly, Pioneer audio system, Fat Mat sound control deadener, Custom red and black ultra leather seats by Cimo & Cimo Custom Upholstery, Catalina Custom headliner, carpet and custom door panels

Exterior

  • Custom body fabrication and paint provided by The Next Level of Tampa, Florida, and master painter Levi Henson, color is Mercedes Benz Red and triple black lacquer