Just The Facts

Year: 1956
Make: Ford
Model: Ranch Wagon
Owner: Bobby Alloway
State: Tennessee

Every hot rod shop has a shop truck. Sometimes it isn’t a truck but a close cousin, such as this 1956 Ford Ranch Wagon belonging to Bobby Alloway of Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop in Louisville, Tennessee. Of course, one look at this ’56 wagon and you realize it hasn’t hauled too many parts to and from the wrecking yard or many other spots. It is more like an Alloway business card as it shows off the craftsmanship that routinely comes from his shop.

There are the trademark Alloway big ’n’ little wheels and tires producing the oh-so awesome rubber rake and the Alloway signature PPG classic black paint. (Well, at least on the body proper, Bobby switched things up a bit and covered the top in white. I guess that’s what a squad car looks like in Tennessee?) And, of course, no Alloway Hot Rod Shop build would be complete without some horsepower-belching, over-the-top V-8.

Few hot rod motors stir one’s imagination more than the venerable Ford 427 single-overhead cam (SOHC, pronounced “sock”) V-8 introduced in 1964. The motor that made legends back then continues to do so today. We can only imagine that when Bobby peered down into the engine bay he was faced with the decision about how much engine to drop in. It’s both an aesthetic and performance dilemma.

Nothing looks worse than to pop the hood of any hot rod and see an anemically sized V-8. Doesn’t matter how potent or sophisticated the engine is, it has to look like it belongs. In fact, if it’s a tad too big that might be better. To say the engine compartment on Bobby’s ’56 Ford Ranch Wagon is of ample proportions would be an understatement. Back in the day it must have been customary for the line mechanic to sit on the fender with his feet inside the engine bay and proceed to work, for there is plenty of room. (OK, I may be exaggerating.) In 1956 there were four powerplants offered for the Ranch Wagon; one inline six and three V-8s. The six-cylinder block was tagged Code A, the first of the V-8s was the 272 tagged Code U, the 292 was tagged Code M, and the 312 was tagged Code P. These motors produced modest horsepower with the 312 rated at 225 hp. A decade later Ford would be eyeball deep in racing with the advent of the 427 SOHC motor. (As of this writing these treasured big-block Fords are readily selling for $38,000.)

Clearly the focal point of Bobby’s shop truck is the motor. It has all the prerequisites; amply fills the engine compartment, produces plenty of horsepower and torque (it’s torque that makes driving a hot rod fun on the street), sounds strong idling but when you stand on it the sound is hypnotic. (Hot rods must sound the part otherwise you’ve missed the point.)

Residing under the hood of Bobby’s shop truck is a ’65 vintage SOHC. Based on FE dimensions, it uses a 427 side-oiler block and many of the same components along with several highly identifiable differences, such as the use of an idler shaft instead of the traditional in-block camshaft and the one-of-a-kind cylinder heads. The heads were a new cast-iron design with hemi combustion chambers and a single-overhead camshaft on each head. This design, for its day, produced high volumetric efficiency at aggressive rpm. The distinctive second timing chain is 6 feet long, which drove the overhead cams but was known for timing issues at high rpm. These 680-pound engines were handbuilt with racing only in mind. Originally equipped with a single four-barrel (PN C6AE-6007-363S) and rated at 616 hp at 7,000 rpm and 515 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm. If equipped with dual four-barrels (PN C6AE-6007-359J) the horsepower jumped to 657 and the torque to 575 lb-ft.

Bobby utilizes his own engine guru for his projects. Mylon Keasler of Keasler Racing of Maryville, Tennessee, built the Cammer starting with his own custom-cut crankshaft and other reciprocating parts. A pair of 750-cfm Edelbrock carbs rest on top of a stock Cammer dual-four intake but modified to guarantee the intake system would fit under the Ranch Wagon’s closed hood. Other engine goodies include an MSD ignition with Taylor wires, Powermaster alternator, and a Steve Long radiator with an electric fan. The valve covers and air cleaner are both custom aluminum pieces with Keasler Racing responsible for the air cleaner. The headers are custom from Barillaro Speed Emporium in Knoxville, Tennessee, and hook up to 3-inch stainless steel exhaust pipe also custom fabricated at Barillaro with the spent gases eventually running through a pair of Model 40 Flowmaster mufflers. (The Barillaro family is no stranger to SOHC motors since Jim Barillaro Jr. campaigned a Cammer-equipped Funny Car in 1969-70 and in the ’80s restored Jack Chrisman’s Cammer-powered Funny Cars.) Backed up to the SOHC motor is a Ford C6 trans that’s run through the gears via an Alloway shop reworked Lokar shifter topped with a custom ball emblazoned with the Alloway “A”.

Corralling all of this power and making the wagon role down the highway in a well-handling manner is the newly created Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) perimeter frame. The 2x4-inch rectangular tubing frame stretches the stock wheelbase by 2 inches and has a high kick-up in the front and the rear to accommodate the low stance and the aggressively sized wheels and tires. Resting between the framerails is a Currie 9-inch rearend with Strange Engineering axles. More AME components include a four-link, Panhard bar, and a set of coilover shocks. Braking is a combination of Kugel Komponents 90-degree swing pedals coupled with a handful of Wilwood pieces, such as 13-inch rotors and calipers at the corners, master cylinder and power booster, plus a proportioning valve. The AME IFS utilizes their spindles, tubular A-arms, and a rack-and-pinion steering.