George utilized the '56's core support and mounted a custom-fabricated, four-row aluminum radiator that matched up to the Three-Valve's hoses. The aforementioned muffler relocation was due to the custom gas tank that invaded their space. While he couldn't use the Mustang's saddle-style gas tank, George intended to use its pump and sending unit. That required a 9-inch-deep gas tank, which led to a 26-gallon capacity. The pump and sending unit work perfectly with the factory computer and instruments, however the added weight forced a change to a stiffer rear spring and the addition of air bags to further compensate. As George puts it, the additional weight makes up for the fact that George did not install the antilock brakes/traction controlit was simply too ugly to put under the hood according to George. You'll also note from the photos that George relocated the filler tube from behind the license plate to behind the driver-side taillight.
With the chassis now complete, George turned his attention to the Ford's body. Setting it down on the chassis presented a number of interference issues that George would have to sort out. The first of those was the firewall, which was moved 4 inches rearward to accommodate the supercharger and its plumbing. George then grafted parts from the Mustang's firewall onto the '56's so he could bolt up the pedals, steering shaft, and brake booster. Similarly, the Mustang gave up its transmission tunnel so George could weld it onto the floor of the '56. This allowed him to mount the Mustang's console, shifter, and emergency brake in their "stock locations. The Mustang also gave up its wiper motor, though George had to fabricate custom arms to use the '56's wipers.
Next on the list was the electrical system. This was going to be George's least favorite part to tackle, but was made much easier with some help.
"I had carefully removed the wiring harness from the Mustang, marked each connector, and purchased the wiring manual from Ford. I was surprised to find the wiring consisted of one complete harness, and when removed, it filled a very large tote, George recalls. "Thankfully, a friend called and asked if he could bring a friend of his to see the project. As luck would have it, this friend happened to be Bob Gault, a master technician and shop foreman from a large local Ford dealership. Bob looked at what was intimidating me, laughed, and said that was the easy stuff.' I told him that he just became my new best friend. George says Bob was right and that it was easy, at least with Bob on board.
"Without his expertise, the project probably would still not be completed.
George also found upholsterer, Tim Dean, who agreed to work on the car at George's place, and while the rest of the guys kept making progress on other parts of the car.
"Working together with Tim, we were able to combine ideas and resolve any issues with the interior. The finished job speaks to his skills and creativity, notes George.
Believe it or not, the Mustang's entire wiring harness was used and hooks up to the factory wiper motor, fuel pump and sender, as well as the Mustang's Shaker 500 sound system. The harness was modified to connect to the '56's lighting sockets, and a couple of the door speaker wires needed to be lengthened. The factory harness even provides power to the power door solenoids. George simply hits the unlock button on the factory key fob and it pops his door open since the handles have been shaved. As George put it, the wiring and computer still think they reside in the '07 Mustang.
This experiment in retro-engineering, as George likes to call it, has been an obvious success. The '56 rides and drives better than ever thanks to the healthy infusion of late-model technology. What's even better is that George developed great friendships with those that were involved. Bob Gault, Brent and Bubba from Fatman Fabrications, Tommy Boyette, Mike and Carrie from Pittsboro Ford, Mike Bartolo and Craig Barker from Roush Performance, and even Modified Mustangs & Fords tech editor, Mark Houlahan, all offered some kind of assistance that enabled George to complete his project. Now, George and his wife, Ella, get to cruise in style and comfort. That is until George starts his next project. About six months into this build, he came across that wrecked Marauder he was looking for and bought it. Will it become '56 Ford number 97?
George Bickel Sr's '56 Ford Fairlane Victoria
Stock 4.6L modular three-valve V-8
Eaton M90-based Roushcharger supercharger
Roush Air-to-Water intercooler
Stock Ford 5R55S five-speed automatic
Stock Ford torque converter and flexplate
Stock Ford 8.8, narrowed 4.5 inches per side
Strange C-clip eliminators and axles
Stock Ford manifolds
Stock Ford H-pipe with catalytic converters
Front: Fatman Fabrications IFS with coilover shocks
Rear: '07 Mustang GT three-link with Fatman Fabrications-modified adjustable Panhard bar, antisway bar, coil springs, and airbags
Front: Fatman Fabrications disc, 11-inch rotors single-piston calipers
Rear: '07 Ford Mustang disc, 11.8-inch rotors, single-piston calipers
Front: '07 Mustang GT Bullitt-style, 17x8
Rear: '07 Mustang GT Bullitt-style, 17x8
Front: Falken Azenis PT722, P235/55VR17
Rear: Falken Azenis PT722, P235/55VR17
'07 Mustang dashboard, console, wiring, and Shaker 500 sound system; modified '07 Mustang seats upholstered by Tim Dean (Clayton, NC) in Lipstick Red; Ford Racing Cobra Jet airbag delete cover
Painted by the owner with PPG basecoat/clearcoat Scarlet Red over Sparkle Silver, '55 Oldsmobile headlights, custom Pony-style grille, Mercury Montclair side trim, '56 Mercury wagon taillights, '56 Ford Thunderbird hoodscoop, 4.6L badges