1956 Ford Fairlane
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1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner Convertible

For any number of us, just the experience of driving along in an automobile from the past is the essence of why we get into this hobby. Here is a car that will provide just that sort of sweet sensation. It's not a concours car, but this handsome 1956 Ford Sunliner allows for top-down, enjoyable motoring with a clear measure of mechanical reliability. The owner who consigned this Sunliner to the selling dealer has a collection that includes more thoroughly restored cars, but insists that this Fairlane, “by far,” is his favorite of the bunch to drive around. The unmistakable mid-Fifties styling in that particular shade of green combines with a fully functioning white top to give this Ford a period-perfect slice of open-air motoring.


When the seller bought this Sunliner about a decade ago, it had the 272-cu-in. version of the Ford Y-block OHV V-8 between its frame rail. As the story goes, that engine, which was probably original to the car, had been rebuilt so many times that a machine shop had no raw material left with which to work. The 272 was pulled and replaced by a 312-cu-in. Y-block, fed by a Carter four-barrel carburetor, that was sourced from a 1957 Ford Fairlane, and was assembled by vintage Ford specialist William Gerstenberg of Orange, California. Most of the major components were re-machined under the Ford 100 Percent Remanufacturing program. That process included decking and align-honing the block, adding new water passages, overboring the block by .030 inch, and regrinding the crankshaft. The solid-lifter camshaft was also reconditioned. The exhaust manifolds were found to be in good shape and received a thermal coating. All of the wiring harnesses were also replaced. The transmission needed no work, but the relays for its electrically operated overdrive needed to be replaced. All the rear end needed was fresh lubricant. The clutch was replaced simultaneously with the engine work. The engine bay is generally clean in presentation.


Few cars shout “Fifties” more clearly than a Ford from the middle of the decade finished in soft, eye-pleasing green. The repaint in Meadow Mist Green is an older finish, perhaps 25 years old, and is correct for a 1956 Ford. The seller stresses that it's not concours quality but would be more than adequate aesthetically for rolling into your local cruise night. The bodywork was relatively rust free, but the driver's door was replaced at some time in the past because of creeping corrosion from its lower edges. Most of the Sunliner's glass has been replaced but the windshield is believed to be original, and all is serviceable. The exterior chrome and trim shows well, but the huge side moldings are both reproductions and the seller said the bumpers will need to be rechromed at some point. The rear wheel openings are skirted. The convertible top was already on the car when the seller bought it and continues to fit well. The power top mechanism is fully functional, and the Sunliner comes with a boot that matches the body color.


According to the seller, the odometer reading is believed to reflect at least one trip around and back to zero. The interior's floors, including the trunk's, are described as being solid. The seller doubts that the interior was restored precisely to factory specifications, but it pops visually thanks to pleated white inserts in its seat facings and on the interior panels. All the factory instrumentation is present, and it's believed to be functional. The factory clock definitely works and while the AM radio is present in the lower dash, the seller is uncertain as to whether it operates. Visually, all the interior trim is present, including the bright strip that encircles the instrument binnacle. The seller installed a new carpet kit in the Sunliner, which is still in good condition. All the controls for the heater are present, including the knobs and levers, but the seller is uncertain as to whether it works.


In his description, the seller characterized this Sunliner as a once-pampered car that now can be termed as a comfortable driver. If the car's been sitting, you'll need to pump the accelerator three or four times before the engine will fire, but it quickly settles down to a smooth idle with no smoke. It burbles through a pair of glass-pack mufflers at the rear of its replacement exhaust system. The Sunliner's radial tires still have most of their tread life remaining. According to the owner, the manual transmission shifts smartly with good clutch action, and the overdrive engages when you pull out the knob underneath the dash. If you're looking for a distinctive Fifties car that requires little in the way of constant attention to mechanicals, this may well suit your needs.

REV's 5 Keys to Investment Collectability

* Perfect for pleasure cruising and your local or regional car show.
* 312 Y-Block Rebuilt and driven sparingly by current owner.
* Rock solid mechanicals, impeccably maintained.
* California car, same owner for more than a decade.


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Interior Color
White and Mint
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Center Console
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1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner
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