1957 Ford Ranch Wagon Gets A Modern Chassis & Powertrain From Ironworks Speed and Kustom

Ford Ranch Wagon Project Part 1: Roadster Shop Chassis & GT500 Powertrain

By Ron Covell   –   Photography By Rodger Lee

Work continues at Ironworks Speed and Kustom on Danny Schaffer’s 1957 Ford Ranch Wagon. The interior of this car has been completely redesigned—from the custom headliner to the numerous CNC-machined components on the dash, doors, and console that are unique but made to have an OEM character. Rodger Lee, the proprietor of Ironworks Speed and Kustom, wanted to model the interior styling after a 1960 Ford Thunderbird, an idea inspired years ago by Fat Jack Robinson.

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02 The project started with a sound 1957 Ford Ranch Wagon that was stripped to bare metal at the start of the project
The project started with a sound 1957 Ford Ranch Wagon that was stripped to bare metal at the start of the project.

While a few Thunderbird components were used, most of the interior was fabricated from scratch, with Tavis Highlander, from Highlander Concept Rendering, making dozens of sketches for details, large and small, before the fabrication commenced. This design utilizes bucket seats both front and back. Ironworks Speed and Kustom makes extensive use of 3D printing to check the fit and style of components before committing to carving them from metal. They will commonly scan a section of the car before the components are designed to ensure precise fitment.

03 The beautiful and capable chassis was built by Roadster Shop
The beautiful and capable chassis was built by Roadster Shop.

A Roadster Shop chassis was commissioned for the Ranch Wagon, fitted with a Ford 9 inch rear end, a supercharged Ford GT500 5.4 crate engine, and Ford 4R70W transmission. Wilwood brake kit is used, and a Woodward power steering rack complements the Roadster Shop–designed independent front suspension.

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04 This frame needs a lot of contours to pick up all the original body mounts
This frame needs a lot of contours to pick up all the original body mounts. Note that plenty of space has been left for a free-flowing exhaust system.

They started with a car in very good condition, but on any car that’s over 60 years old you can expect to find some rust damage and minor body damage. The Ironworks Speed and Kustom crew replaced the entire floor, the rocker panels, built a new firewall, and fabricated new patch panels wherever needed. After all the repairs, they straightened every panel to perfection and adjusted the door, hood, and tailgate gaps to precise tolerances.

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05 The Ford 9 inch rear end with a polished aluminum center section is located by a fully adjustable four link system
The Ford 9 inch rear end, with a polished aluminum center section, is located by a fully adjustable four-link system.

Extensive work was focused on the engine bay, with custom inner fender panels and a scratch-built clearance panel that was fitted to the new flat firewall. A complete stainless exhaust system was built, starting with carefully fitted headers, flowing back to oval mufflers tucked outside the frame rails behind the rear axle. Stainless bellows were incorporated to accommodate engine movement or dimensional changes from heat. Note how well the large-diameter tubes fit inside the contours of the center frame members—a testament to the excellent design of the chassis. At the rear of the chassis, a custom-built 18-gallon stainless fuel tank was built in-house and fitted snugly between the frame rails.

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06 A flat firewall was made from 16 gauge steel to replace the original
A flat firewall was made from 16-gauge steel to replace the original.

It will take several articles to just scratch the surface of the extensive work being lavished on this project, and we’ll focus primarily on the chassis and underhood area this time. MR

07 The supercharged Ford GT500 engine was positioned as far back as possible
The supercharged Ford GT500 engine was positioned as far back as possible.
08 Double universal joints were used to offset the shaft going to the steering rack providing the necessary clearance for the stainless steel custom headers
Double universal joints were used to offset the shaft going to the steering rack, providing the necessary clearance for the stainless steel custom headers.
09 The free flowing custom headers and exhaust system are a work of art
The free-flowing custom headers and exhaust system are a work of art.
10 From underneath the car you can see how smoothly the exhaust system follows the contours of the chassis
From underneath the car you can see how smoothly the exhaust system follows the contours of the chassis.
11 A custom made 18 gallon stainless fuel tank fits behind the rear axle and the mufflers are tucked between the frame rails and the rear fenders
A custom-made 18-gallon stainless fuel tank fits behind the rear axle, and the mufflers are tucked between the frame rails and the rear fenders.
12 New inner fender well panels were made from 16 gauge steel Note how nut plates are used on the top edge for the fender attachment bolts
New inner fender well panels were made from 16-gauge steel. Note how nut plates are used on the top edge for the fender attachment bolts.
13 Here the dual brake Wilwood master cylinder is located on the firewall
Here the dual brake Wilwood master cylinder is located on the firewall.
14 A removable clearance panel is being built to attach to the firewall
A removable clearance panel is being built to attach to the firewall. This is the mounting flange that the panel will be fitted to.
15 Here the mounting flange is positioned on the firewall and the contours and clearances are checked
Here the mounting flange is positioned on the firewall and the contours and clearances are checked.
16 The front surface and perimeter of the panel are built while the mounting flange is clamped securely to the workbench keeping everything flat and true
The front surface and perimeter of the panel are built while the mounting flange is clamped securely to the workbench, keeping everything flat and true.
17 The front surface and perimeter of the panel are built while the mounting flange is clamped securely to the workbench keeping everything flat and true
Here’s the finished clearance panel, temporarily bolted to the firewall.
18 All the floor panels of the car were replaced with new metal
All the floor panels of the car were replaced with new metal. A rotisserie really helps at this stage of the construction.
19 New rocker panels were made from heavy gauge metal
New rocker panels were made from heavy-gauge metal.
20 Most of the body was in good shape but there were a few areas where patch panels were required
Most of the body was in good shape, but there were a few areas where patch panels were required. Here a large patch is being fitted to the front fender.
21 Once all the exterior sheet metal was smoothed to perfection the body was primered and the trim pieces were straightened then carefully fitted and adjusted
Once all the exterior sheet metal was smoothed to perfection the body was primered and the trim pieces were straightened, then carefully fitted and adjusted.

Source
Ironworks Speed and Kustom
(661) 399-8999
ironworksspeedandkustom.com

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of 1957 Ford Ranch Wagon Gets A Modern Chassis & Powertrain From Ironworks Speed and Kustom.

mr sept 2023

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