Nic Conley
July 30, 2012

It's not uncommon to read about a wife buying a car for her husband. In fact, more project cars are purchased by someone's significant other than you might think--especially after years of hearing him go on and on about that dream machine that got away. This one is a bit more unorthodox in its origins.

Eric Hall was in high school in the late '70s and early '80s, and had been searching for his dream hot rod--a '56 Ford Victoria. His then girlfriend, Twylla, travelled with him on weekends searching farms, fields, and back alleys of western Idaho and eastern Oregon for that elusive treasure.

After more than two years of scavenging, they finally found one right there in their hometown of Boise, Idaho, in May 1981. Eric had heard that the owner refused to sell, so he never bothered to even ask. Well, apparently Twylla saw an opportunity to bring their weekend searching to an end, and marched right up to the owner's door, pulled out her checkbook, and simply asked, "How much?" The owner must have assumed the young woman would buy it and restore it as a driver, so he gave her a price, to which Twylla responded with a filled out check, and told him they would be back the next day to pick it up. Eric couldn't believe she had bought it for him. They weren't even married! Neither one of them was even 18 yet. Twylla's parents were less than enthusiastic about her tapping her college savings to do it, but it all worked out in the end.

Eric drove the car for the remainder of high school, then for several years after he and Twylla were married, powered by a built 351 Cleveland and Top Loader four-speed. The car has seen many exterior colors including dark blue with red flames, white pearl, and finally the ink toner black covering the sheetmetal today.

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The car is a complete departure from its original state, now sporting almost ten times the horsepower originally offered in 1956. This Ford gets its oats from a 4.5-inch bore and a 4.5-inch stroke displacing 572 inches of Boss 429-based muscle. Eagle 6.7-inch connecting rods and custom Ross pistons are flung around by a Scat crankshaft and produce ear-piercing 15:1 compression. Wes King worked his magic on the rare Boss heads by raising the ports, and reshaping them before filling them with 2.45-inch intake and 2-inch exhaust valves. K-motion springs try to hold those titanium valves closed, but the Comp Cams/John Kaase spec'd solid roller camshaft pries them open 0.850/0.830-inch and holds them there for 286/304 degrees at 0.050. A bumpstick this big required utilizing a Jesel 1.8:1 rocker setup and Smith Bros pushrods as big around as your finger. Eric has done all of the assembly on the engine which, given the estimates of John Kaase and Wes King, should make around 1,000 horsepower.

Rounding out the intake tract is a Jack Roush tunnel ram intake manifold topped with two Holley 1150 Dominators being fed by a pair of Holley black pumps. Exhaust pulses are ushered out by a custom set of headers featuring 2-3/8-inch primary tubes that dump into Borla 4-inch mufflers. A Meziere water pump, Griffin radiator, and twin Flex-A-Lite electric fans cool the max Boss.

Eric has always preferred to row through the gears, so when the power level exceeded the limit of the Top Loader, a Jerico five-speed, along with an aluminum flywheel, and a McLeod twin-disc clutch assembly, replaced it. Out back, a Moser aluminum bolt-through rear axle houses a 4.33 gearset driven by a Mark Williams Accu-bond driveshaft and slowed via Aerospace rear discs. Bob Lewis and Dennis Blackstone of Boise, Idaho, performed the top quality frame and suspension work.

Supplying the "old-school" hot rod look is the custom-built straight axle front end complete with rack-and-pinion steering, and Aerospace binders. The car is pictured herewith Weld Pro-Star wheels, but by the time you read this, they will be replaced with Weld Racing's new black powdercoated Magnum Drag wheels measuring 15x4 and 15x16.

More retro-rod look is available when the door is opened. Basic black upholstery and carpet give it a no-frills cleanliness. Chip Knight Upholstery expertly custom-fit the '64 Galaxie seats into the '56 after wrapping them with black leather, and Mark Larson handled the carpet and headliner. A full array of Auto Meter gauges keeps tabs on the monster mill's vitals, while still looking like they belong there.

When Eric decided to ditch the "pearl marshmallow" look by repainting the body, he didn't have to look any further than his own cousin, Ronnie Hall, for the extreme hue change. Ronnie has done several award-winning paintjobs in the Boise valley over the years, and is very well known for his spectacular work. After extensively modifying the teardrop hoodscoop to accommodate the huge mill, Ronnie laid on the PPG basecoat/clearcoat that looks to be a foot deep. While the car was being painted, Greg Williams polished all of the stainless trim to a mirror finish.

Twylla and Eric have known each other for 35 years, and have been married for more than 26 of them. Surely, she might have reconsidered her decision to buy the '56 for Eric had she known what an obsession it would turn out to be, but she and their sons, Drue and Austin, have been there to help and have supported him through all the changes the car has undergone.

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The Details

Eric And Twylla Hall's '56 Ford Fairlane Victoria

Engine

  • Ford Boss 429 block, 572 ci
  • Eagle connecting rods
  • Ross custom pistons
  • Scat crankshaft
  • Boss 429 cylinder heads, full race port by Wes King
  • Custom John Kaase spec'd Comp Cams solid roller camshaft, 0.850/0.830 lift 286/340 duration at 0.050
  • Jack Roush tunnel ram with dual Holley 1150 Dominator carburetors
  • 15:1 compression ratio
  • Estimated at more than 1,000 hp

Transmission

  • Jerico five-speed manual
  • McLeod twin-disc clutch

Rearend

  • Moser 9-inch axle housing, Moser aluminum third member
  • 4.33 ring-and-pinion/Moser axles
  • Mark Williams Accu-bond driveshaft

Exhaust

  • Custom-built fenderwell headers, 23?8-inch primaries
  • Borla race mufflers
  • 4-inch exhaust

Brakes

  • Front: Aerospace Components disc
  • Rear: Aerospace Components disc
  • Underdash 90-degree power brake booster

Wheels

  • Front: Weld Magnum III Drag, 15x3.5
  • Rear: Weld Magnum III Drag, 15x15

Tires

  • Front: Sigma Grand Spirit HR+4 P155/80R15
  • Rear: Coker Tire Pro-Trac S515/45-15

Suspension

  • Front: Custom-built straight-axle with rack-and-pinion steering, Afco shocks
  • Rear: Ladder bar, QA1 coilover shocks

Interior

  • '64 Galaxie bucket seats and rear seat upholstered in black leather, Auto Meter gauges

Exterior

  • Black PPG basecoat/clearcoat, custom-built "teardrop" hoodscoop widened and raised to clear carburetors, polished stainless moldings