Custom Interior With Unmatched Design & Precision

Ford Ranch Wagon Project Part 2: 3D Printed & CNC Machined Parts Provide a Truly Unique Flare

By Ron Covell   –   Photography By Rodger Lee   –   Artwork by Tavis Highlander

Work continues at Ironworks Rod 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. Using a 1960 Thunderbird as inspiration, 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.

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02 A retrofitted 60 Thunderbird dash panel seamlessly integrated into the 57 Ford cowl
A dash panel from a 1960 Thunderbird was fitted into the 1957 Ford cowl.

A steel Thunderbird dashboard was modified to fit the cowl area of the Ranch Wagon, and all the details were custom designed, including the gauge cluster, the glove box door, and the bezel for the radio faceplate and center air conditioner ducts. As with many details on this project, the locations of interest were scanned, then the components were designed in CAD and often 3D printed in plastic for evaluation before CNC machining the final parts from billet aluminum.

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03 A removed dash from the 57 Ford to allow for precise welding and metal finishing
The dash was removed from the car to complete the welding and to provide better access for metal finishing.

The center console was a major project, with an elegantly machined bezel that incorporates the air conditioner controls, the shift lever, the door window controls, and two conveniently positioned cup holders. All of this was fitted above a custom-fabricated transmission and driveshaft cover.

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04 An impeccably smoothed metal dash modified to blend perfectly with the car s original design
With the metal smoothed to perfection, the highly modified dash looks like it was factory made.

Custom Under Dashboard Panel

A special panel was made to fit under the dashboard, which incorporates two more air conditioner vents, and these machined components extend into the door panels, featuring an elegant, bullet-shaped armrest.

05 Newly replaced floor panels in the 57 Ford featuring a custom made cover for the Ford 4R70W transmission and driveshaft
All the floor panels were replaced with new metal, and a snugly fitted cover was made for the Ford 4R70W transmission and driveshaft.

Custom Door Panels

Custom door and side panels were designed then cut with a CNC router from high-density urethane foam board. This rigid board will be the backing for thin upholstery foam and the final leather top surface.

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06 A CAD designed and CNC machined aluminum billet instrument cluster insert for the dash
All the inserts for the dash were CAD designed and CNC machined from aluminum billet. This is the instrument cluster.

Rear Seats & Custom Armrests

The rear seating area required a lot of special fittings as well, and custom armrests were designed to integrate with the bucket seats. These parts were 3D printed from plastic to check the fit before being made in fiberglass. They will be covered with foam and leather. A custom-machined aluminum bezel was made to cap each armrest, following the style of the bezel on the console.

07 A custom insert for the console carefully crafted after several design iterations
The console features a custom insert, too. Several versions of this were considered before the finished part was machined.

CAD Based Headliner

The headliner was a major undertaking. While most cars used stretched fabric for the headliner, the plan for this car was to make something rigid, with only one joint separating the front seating area from the rear. The interior of the roof was scanned, and a simple but elegant headliner shape was designed, along with the trim pieces and the hardware that will hold it securely in place.

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08 Custom made parts including the radio bezel air conditioner vents door panels and an underdash panel for the 57 Ford
The custom-made parts continue into the radio bezel, the air conditioner vents, the door panels, and an under dash panel.

Once the design was completed in CAD, a CNC router was used to carve blocks of foam to the precise shape needed, and fiberglass molds were made. Fiberglass parts were made from these molds, which are the basis for the new headliner. Careful attention was paid to concealing all the fasteners. Some fasteners are hidden by the six custom-machined trim pieces in the rear section, and there is a machined aluminum bezel, made in a style like the console, that covers the fasteners in the front.

09 A meticulously fitted machined bezel into the console of the 57 Ford Ranch Wagon
With the bezel for the console machined, it is carefully fitted into the console.

As you can see, the interior of this project was done with a degree of design and precision that ensures it will stand out from the crowd. In the next article, you will see how a similar level of refinement is brought to the engine compartment. MR

10 A preview of the elegant one of a kind interior with installed dash and console in the 57 Ford
With the dash and console installed, you can get a sense of how elegant this one-of-a-kind interior will be.
11 The selected “C” version of the door and side panels after studying several variations
Several variations of the door and side panels were studied, the “C” version is the one that was selected.
12 High density urethane foam door and side panels ready to be covered with leather
The door and side panels were CNC routed from high density urethane foam, which will be covered with leather.
13 Custom machined door panel inserts being checked for fit on the door panels
The custom door panel inserts are checked for fit on the door panels.
14 A view of the extensively reworked rear seating area in the 57 Ford
The rear seating area required extensive reworking, too.
15 CAD designed armrests for the rear seats created after scanning the interior space
After scanning the interior space, CAD was used to design the armrests on either side of the rear seats.
16 3D printed full sized test pieces used to check the shape style and fitment of the armrests
The armrests were checked for shape, style, and fitment by 3D printing full size test pieces.
17 A newly designed headliner complete with mounting hardware ready to be made from fiberglass and covered with leather
A completely new headliner was designed, along with the mounting hardware to hold it in place. The headliner will be made from fiberglass, then covered with leather.
18 A mock up of how the complete headliner will look with all accessories in place
Here is how the headliner will look with all the accessories in place.
19 A CNC router used to carve a block of urethane foam to the perfect contour for the headliner with a female mold made from it
To make the headliner, a CNC router was used to carve a block of urethane foam to the proper contour, then a female mold was made from it.
20 A finished mold for the headliner revealing the fiberglass structure and steel brackets that will hold it in place
When the mold for the headliner was finished, fiberglass was used to make the rigid structure of the headliner. You can see the steel brackets here that will hold the headliner in place.
21 A test fitting of all the components showcasing the unique and special interior of the 57 Ford Ranch Wagon
Here all the components are being test-fitted. This is going to be one very special 1957 Ford Ranch Wagon.

Ironworks Speed and Kustom
(661) 399-8999

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