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During the late 1950s and the early 1960s, the power plant of choice for the basic hot rodder, usually a young southern California male of limited financial means, had shifted from the venerable Ford flathead V-8 to the more advanced and more powerful overhead valve V-8 engines then coming out of Detroit. The prime mover for this transition was, of course, the near-revolutionary Chevrolet “small block,” however, a wide variety of other options were available.
The 1955 Ford Customline hotrod shown here is a prime example: the original Ford “Y-Block,” which was not a match for the high-revving Chevrolet engine unless expertly maintained in a very high state of tune, has been replaced by a much larger series-FE Ford “big block” engine (the series FE block, which first appeared in 1958, would over the next several years be greatly modified to significantly increase horsepower, and would then form the basis of Ford’s first entries into the era of the heated competitions between the “muscle cars”).
There were three basic models for full-sized Fords in 1955: The high-end Fairlane, the mid-range Customline, and the economy-minded Mainline. The very top of the line was an upgraded Fairlane known as the Crown Victoria (famous for the chrome crown covering the B-pillar and crossing in a sweep over the top of the car. It could also have a transparent top.).
As with most hotrods of that era, the exterior and interior of this specific car have been “customized.” The purple color and the two-tone paint scheme were not available in the Customline, and the Customline model identifications have been changed to read Sunliner, which is, in fact, trim from the ’55 Ford convertible. The interior has also been modified, having been considerably upgraded from the basic low-cost fabric version that originally came from Ford and could quickly wear out. (Interestingly, in 1956, the Customline was made available in both a two-tone paint version, and a pillarless hardtop version. Very few of these were ordered, making them rare cars today.)
- Original 272 cid engine replaced with modified Ford “FE” engine
- 1955 marked Ford’s first offering of seat belts and A/C as factory-installed options
- 236,575 produced
- Price new: $1,901