Just the Facts
Owner: Bill McCauley
It seems there are a lot of people out there who have read old hot rod magazines who feel they know what hot rodding in the 1960s was all about, but unless you were there, you don't really know.
A 1962 Oldsmobile steering wheel and column was used in Bill’s convertible.
Bill McCauley was there, as he grew up in the era, and his recollection of what a custom should look like was the basis for his most recent build: a 1956 Ford Sunliner. Having run Carriage House Automotive Restorations since 1970 in New Lenox, Illinois, Bill also knows his way around a concours-level build process.
Over the years the 68-year-old collected different cars and, after selling an all-original 1956 Ford Sunliner, he decided he'd like to create a custom out of a another Sunliner he still owned, finishing it with a handful of the customization tricks he remembered cars having when he graduated high school in 1963.
A 1956 Ford 312, hopped up a little with a Red’s 3/4-race camshaft and headers, was dresse
The '56 he started with was a decent candidate, having been restored a few years back. The original chassis was equipped with a Ford 9-inch rear, which Bill left alone, but he added lowered spindles up front and air shocks out back. He did update the brake system, installing 11-inch GM metric discs in the front and Ford 12-inch SVO discs in the rear, along with a dual reservoir and an 8-inch booster. The steering is handled by a '62 Olds column and wheel, and the car rolls on 14-inch steelies fitted with BFGoodrich Silvertown 205/70-14 whitewall radials topped with 1957 Cadillac 'caps.
The motor for the Sunliner is a hopped-up 312, bored 0.030 to a 317-inch displacement with a 9.8:1 compression ratio. A Red's 3/4-race Stump Puller camshaft was also installed and three Stromberg 97 carbs mounted to an aluminum intake manifold feed the beast. Spark is delivered via a PerTronix-equipped distributor over ACCEL wires, and exhaust exits through a set of Red's headers and Lakes pipes outfitted with Smitty's glasspack mufflers. An aluminum radiator keeps it all cool (aided by a five-blade fan) and Thunderbird aluminum valve covers and a vintage louvered air cleaner add a little bit of flash to the engine compartment. Carriage House also did the build on the engine. For the transmission, Bill used a Toploader out of a 1967 Mustang and finished it with a modified Hurst shifter.
Besides new gauges fit to the dash, a Moon tach was added up top, along with the pleated v
To customize the body of the convertible, Carriage House employed the requisite tricks of the '50s, including shaving the trim, frenching the antenna, and performing a nose and deckjob. The hood was louvered, a 1954 Chevy grille replaced the stock Ford unit, Mercury station wagon taillights installed, Buick portholes added, and both bumpers were shaved and lowered to alter the lines of the car.
Once the body was up to spec, a custom-mix Dupont orange pearl was made up for the car and sprayed in Carriage House's downdraft booth. Soon the pleated white vinyl interior was stitched and installed and, after "Jive" (a local pinstriper) added his touches, the car was readied for its debut at a local World of Wheels show. The "reviews" from people at the car show typically revolved around the fact Bill "hit the nail on the head" in his efforts to recreate the era when you bought what you could afford, customize with whatever parts you could find (even non-same manufacture), and got it out on the road for some cruising.