What did we tell you? For a year and a half, we’ve been beating the drum about Street Cruisers. These big-bodied bruisers from the postwar, pre–muscle car years have been steadily increasing in popularity—they’re everywhere—so we’ve been increasing our attention to them. In September we published a gallery of vitamin-fortified full-sized rides.
One of the examples we included in that coverage was this silver 1960 Ford Starliner street cruiser, owned by Paul Boschetto of Santa Rosa, California. The car was created by Zane Cullen and his crew of builders at Cotati Speed Shop, in Santa Rosa.
When the Starliner came to Cotati Speed Shop, it was in rough shape and rusted throughout. They could have taken it in several directions, from restoration to ’60s custom. Instead, they tried something different. As Cullen put it, “The objective behind the project was to give it a factory hot rod look, as if it had been built by Ford SVT in 1960.”
In fact, the new ’60 Starliner with a 360-horse 352 was a significant weapon for Ford at the beginning of the famous “factory wars.” Half a century later, that significance is obvious all over this contemporary “Chevy Killer.”
In place of a 352, this Starliner is armed with a 600hp Ford Racing 514 crate engine with TRW forged aluminum pistons on Eagle H-beam rods. Cobra Jet heads are topped with custom valve covers designed at Cotati and machined at Millwerks in Nashville. A custom air cleaner with K&N filters tops the Holley 750 Dominator four-barrel on an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake. Custom headers were built from mild steel to direct exhaust to Flowmaster U-Fit 3-inch pipes corked with Flowmaster 70 Series mufflers.
Keeping up with the 514 is a C6 transmission, assembled by TCI Engineering. At the far end of the Santa Rosa Driveline Service driveshaft is a Ford 9-inch limited-slip rearend with 3.73:1 gears. Preventing that powertrain from crunching through the suspension like a handful of pretzels required some performance modification underneath. The Starliner rides on the factory ’rails but with stouter components, including a stout 1-1/8-inch custom front sway bar and stock control arms modified for Ford Granada spindles. The frontend and the triangulated four-bar rear are equipped with a RideTech ShockWave suspension setup.
Slowing down, no problem. Baer six-piston disc brakes featuring 14-inch rotors grab the Velocity rims from Schott Performance Wheels. The 20x10-inch rears roll on 295/45R20 BFGoodrich g-Force T/A radials with 19x7-inch front rims on 245/40R19s.
Body mods were limited to low-key improvements, including reshaped wheel openings and extended and gapped panel edges. Hood and trunk trim was removed along with side emblems and front fender “site scopes.” All remaining shiny pieces were modified to fit better than stock. Bumper bolts were shaved and all chrome was revived by Sherm’s Custom Plating. New glass was provided by Will Raff Glass and Tri Valley Glass.
The silver DuPont paint was sprayed at Cotati Speed Shop. The chassis and engine compartment were finished with a dull sheen reminiscent of factory coatings, consistent with the “factory hot rod” look.
The interior was also designed not to deviate from that look. It’s not a stock Starliner, but it is early ’60s. The ’65 Thunderbird front seats are an inspired addition, along with matching custom seats in the rear, a T-bird style center console, and custom door panels. Francis Minaglia at Minaglia’s Auto Upholstery in Healdsburg, California, covered it all with oxblood leather. The carpet is German square weave.
The factory column shifter was kept and the stock steering wheel was restored by J.B. Donaldson Company in Phoenix. Vents were removed from the mildly modified dash. Hidden vents allow air from the Vintage Air A/C system, which uses the stock knobs. The gauges were upgraded by Classic Instruments and a Classic race tach is mounted on the console. And no stock Starliner radio can deliver sound like the sound system here, providing Sirius radio and an iPod hookup. Components include an Alpine touch-screen head unit and Arc amps mounted in the trunk, installed by Kustom Kar Audio in Santa Rosa.
The Starliner was finished just in time for the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show and earned a prominent spot in the main hall, a few steps away from the finalists competing for the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy. The point was made: later, bigger vehicles are claiming their place in this hobby alongside the old-time traditional favorites.