Just The Facts
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.)
The pair of buckets comes from a ’63 Ford Galaxie stitched in black leather by the crew at
Classic Instruments gauges are fit into the stock gauge opening while a Lecarra wheel is b
The rear bench was fabricated at Alloway’s and covered in matching leather while the carpe
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.
The wagon rolled off the assembly line in salmon (pink) with the proper interior trim. Nope, you just don’t paint a mean ol’ thumpin’ hot rod pink. With this in mind Alloway opened up the wide array of colors at his disposal—black. While the crew at Alloway’s labored away on the bodywork the application of the PPG black to the body, Cloud White to the roof was applied by Bobby himself and fellow shop member Scotty Troutman.
Inside the body the majority of the flooring was kept stock with the exception of moving the driveshaft tunnel up and the widening of the wheel tubs via a 2-inch band to accommodate the 20x10 wheels. On the subject of wheels … and tires, Billet Specialties manufactures the ET-style slugs exclusively for Alloway’s. The fronts are 17x7 and the rears are 20x10. Michelin 225/55R17 rubber is used in front, and 275/55R20 are used in the rear.
The OEM taillights were freshly restored with brilliant chrome and polished stainless trim
When asked what was the most challenging part of the build, we envisioned a number of responses but never did we think we would hear what Bobby uttered. “The roof.” (Bobby is a man of few words!) For those familiar with stock mid-’50s Ranch Wagons you will know the term “bubble look” when referring to the roof. Bobby wanted to remove this visual and give the roofline a cleaner more pleasing appearance so between his shop and the Barillaro’s the roof saga begins. First step was to cut 2 inches (the bubble) out of the roof skin and then weld up the top. There, it’s finished. Well, not quite. Turns out Bobby didn’t like that look either. Second step was to remove the newly massaged top and replace it with a ’65 Plymouth roof from a four-door wagon—and turn it around. Yep, what was once pointed forward is now pointed backward! The end result is a pleasant and sleek looking line to the roof.
The grille is stock but straightened and dipped in fresh chrome at Dan’s Polishing in Adamsville, Tennessee. Other stock items retained were the front and rear bumpers but all the bolts and studs were removed and smoothed over along with the factory headlight buckets now running modern sealed beams and followed up with OEM taillights nestled within new chrome trim. Other sheetmetal that was modified were the firewall and inner fender panels handled at Alloway’s and Barillaro Speed Emporium.
Stock hinges never looked so good but they can be made to sparkle with plenty of prep.
Inside the wagon the factory dash was retained but the radio and air control holes were filled. In place new vent holes were drilled for the Vintage Air A/C and heat system and Classic Instruments gauges grace the OEM cluster. Other dashboard appointments include the ididit tilt column topped with a Lecarra wheel. The pair of ’63 Ford Galaxie bucket seats are stitched in black leather by Steve Holcomb of Pro Auto Custom Interiors in Halls, Tennessee. They also handled the black Daytona weave carpeting over liberal amounts of Dynamat insulation. Several of the custom interior appointments include the door panels with billet trim, the center console that houses the modified Lokar shifter, and the Alloway shop–fabricated rear bench covered again in black leather.
It’s a shop truck, albeit a very nice one but one suitable to take to a rod run and show off your shops talent as well as chase parts.