This one’s prepped as a good street engine with proper manners—perfect for cruising the local scene at night or throwing the bags in the back for a long distance haul. FEs weren’t known for wonderful fuel mileage, but a Tremec five-speed with OD might help. These cars came with the venerable 9-inch, so the rearend is already secure. Headers are available and a 2-inch exhaust with your favorite aftermarket mufflers (Porters are my choice) would give the sweet sound I’m looking for.
A Granada spindle and disc brakes would drop the frontend 2 inches. Six-cylinder springs might drop it another inch. A LeBaron Bonney interior gives the granny go-getter look, with a Hurst shifter nestled in front of the bench and a early Dixco or Sun tach on the column for a sense of “uh oh.”
Dog dish caps on ’57 station wagon 15-inch steelies and a set of 225/70R15 T/As all around will keep it on the ice. I plan to nose and deck the hood and shave any other factory emblems. I will then wrap the finish in factory Raven black and off we go!
’63 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon
This purple people pusher turns an old, unloved mor-dor long roof into a super bitchin’ swap meet wagon for you and your buddies to bomb around in. Then drop off the fellas and cruise up PCH with your lady. Slide back that VW bus length ragtop to soak in the ocean air! A relatively stock-style redo of the interior in factory lilac vinyl and cloth suits this purple ’n’ pink pachyderm the best.
The body is basically stock with most of the factory trim in place. The grille emblem was removed and the top half of a Tom Hanna–style dragster scoop molded into the hood to let that big Roush 427SR engine breathe. Fine metallic grape paint covers the majority of the body, with a lavender pearl paneled area with livery signage for a “not kidding anyone” delivery look.
The chassis is updated with narrow A-arms to tuck in those 16x8 deep offset five-spokes, with a matching set of 16x10s jammed inside the rear wheel arches, attached to a healthy 9-inch axle and truck-style ladder bars. Coilovers front and rear with large antiroll bars plant this thing in the corners like no other tuna boat ever was!
This whole scenario could be pulled off on the big time cheap with a truck issue FE engine and a four-speed (or maybe a 351W-based mill), and some moderate rear gear for “decent” mileage. Run the patina’d paint and swap the 16-inch rolling stock for 15-inch swap meet Americans and forego the sliding rag—who needs the sunburn anyway? Tint the windows to hide the shabby threads, fix the A/C, and cruise!
’61 Cadillac De Ville
If you have kids, a two-door can make things tough when loading up the gang, so a four-door ’61 De Ville is my idea of a Street Cruiser CTS-V.
We engineered our version to be nimble, smooth, and quick (as a 4,500-pound yacht can be), with suspension based on A-arms and a four-link—all on bags for that killer stance over huge luxury/performance alloys. We turned up the heat on a 390 by dropping the compression ratio to 9.75:1, and adding a centrifugal supercharger (bonus points for re-purposing a vintage McCullough). Carb enclosures hide under a stock-looking air cleaner for a more factory appearance, and the engine bay finishings mimic those on the body. Adapting a 480LE transmission increases driveability and 3.73 gears, while a bit greedy, make the boat fun in town.