A Custom ’56 Ford Parklane Wagon With Coyote Power
The 68th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Sacramento Autorama hadn’t even officially opened when STREET RODDER saw this ’56 Ford Parklane wagon on display in Building A of the Cal Expo fairgrounds. Later that weekend we went back for a closer look and met car owner Rick Walker, builder Steve Borja, and Rick’s brother-in-law George Norbeck, who was manning the display.
Ford’s ’56 Parklane two-door wagon was a one-year model, introduced in response to the Chevy Nomad (and Pontiac Safari). Production was nearly double that of the Nomad but 62 years later, Nomads have won the popularity contest. That’s one of the reasons Rick, from Oakdale, California, wanted to build a Parklane. He is a Tri-Five fan and has owned several,
but he wanted a Ford from the same era. “I wanted function first,” he explains. “A simple cruiser to travel with my wife Linette and our dog Howdy. Something bold, but that still resembled the stock appearance.”
First he had to find one. He found two. One was a high-dollar restored original, the other was an almost-unsalvageable specimen Rick described as “the swamp one.” The decision was made. “We chose the swamp one.” It was a long road from the swamp to the Sacramento Autorama, and Rick turned to PDT Motorsports in Oakdale to navigate the project.
The wagon had come from Minnesota, and was running but rough. The sheetmetal from the beltline down was rotted out and there was so much chicken wire
holding things together that “the swamp one soon had a new name, “the chicken coop.” Steve Borja and the team at PDT Motorsports spent a year replacing the unsalvageable steel with handbuilt pieces.
The high-end exterior trim is one of the things that make the Parklanes special, but finding replacement pieces was tough and time consuming, since there are not a lot of repopped parts for Parklanes. Custom body modifications include the one-piece rear windows, internally tinted glass, narrowed and smoothed bumpers, LED lighting, and ’60 Buick taillights. The driver side taillight is hinged for access to the relocated fuel filler tube. Rick wanted paint similar to a Ford factory color, but bolder. The complementary colors are Ivory and Juice Melon.
Underneath, the frontend was replaced with C5 suspension components and brakes, plus a Flaming River steering rack. A triangulated four-link locates the Ford 8.8-inch rearend. Coilovers at every corner improve the ride, and Wilwood discs stop the rear wheels. Pirelli P Zero low-profile tires are mounted on 18x8 Knuckle chrome wheels from Foose Wheels.
The expansive interior was refinished in a mild custom style, maintaining the period look of the wagon but with some custom embellishment. Finish Line Interior wrapped the seats in cream-colored leather and covered the floor in green carpet. The front seat was built on a Glide Engineering splitback bench frame to match the stock-frame rear seats. The Billet Specialties BLVD 03 steering wheel tops an ididit column. Gauges are Dakota Digital and the A/C is from Classic Auto Air. The hidden audio system is from Custom Autosound.
Rick said that a Ford 5.0L Coyote modular engine was part of the plan from the very beginning. It goes back to the idea of “function first.” The wagon was built for long-distance cruising, so the engine has to combine performance and reliability. A fully functional intake system draws air from underneath the car to the Ford Performance Boss 302 intake manifold. It performs the desired function, looks cool, and keeps the Parklane Ford-powered.
The Parklane that they once called the “swamp one” and the “chicken coop” is now known as “Fastlane.” We added an additional title to the list: Ford Performance Parts/ STREET
RODDER Best Ford In A Ford.
YEAR: 1956 MAKE: Ford MODEL: Parklane OWNER: Rick Walker