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The Fairest

Consumer goods in the 1950s were centered on two things: space travel and elegance. The 1957 Ford Fairlane is evidence of this thanks to its rocket-booster taillights and flowing, graceful body lines. With the ride and drive of a V8 couch, this finned marvel would surely draw the attention of every Jones on the block in Anytown, USA. Arguably, Ford and Chevy shared several styling details on their landmark 1957 models, but the Ford has a few neat details that set it apart. Sorry Dinah.

Custom cars built at the world famous Kindig-It Designs in Salt Lake City, Utah are centered on two things: improving on the original design and hiding late model convenience within. Ok, and considerable advancements in horsepower. To kick it off, the merry band of crafters threw a ’57 Fairlane drop top on their examination table and made a pros and cons list for the car.

Exterior styling was on the pros side, so the overall look of the car was unchanged, save for a bit of fine-tuning. The stock trim was refinished at Ogden Chrome, but the bumpers were 86’d in favor of handmade rollpans guarded by customized 1968 Camaro bumpers. The original turn signals were lost somewhere along the way, perhaps on purpose to clean up the custom built grille. Wisely left intact, the decklid still rolls inward at the bottom; an often overlooked detail akin to something you’d see on a custom car but straight from the Ford assembly line. Mercedes black paired with a custom Glacier Mint paint was artfully sprayed on the laser-straight flanks.

Inside, your eyeballs are slapped by the high-contrast handiwork of JS Custom Interiors in Bentley Ice leather and black Mercedes velour carpet. The seats are pirated from a ’68 Chevelle of all things, the column came from ididit, and the steering wheel is a custom shrunken job by Koch’s. The dashboard straddled the pros/cons line, so Dakota Digital was tapped for a one-off instrument system reminiscent of the original stuff to fit a custom opening in the “sunset” shaped dash. We used VHX components to fill the newfound void and created a custom overlay (face) to match the dazzling Bentley leather. Vintage Air and Kicker have their wares hidden throughout the cabin, both decidedly better than what was available in 1957.

A Ford engine in a Ford car was on the pros list, but the Y-block was a con, so Dave Kindig filled this engine compartment with a Straussberg-assembled 429 with good guts after smoothing the big block to perfection. Induction is handled by a somewhat hard to find Mickey Thompson cross ram intake, though instead of 390 Holleys you’ll find drive by wire throttle bodies for the EFI system. The Billet Specialties TruTrac accessory drive stands in contrast with the vintage finned valve covers and matching custom-made air cleaner lid, but the ensemble is so artfully executed they all play nice together. The tricked out 429 offers a reported 560hp through a GM Performance 4L80E transmission.

Holding this freeway flier together is a custom Art Morrison chassis equipped with modern IFS and a triangulated four link in back. Ride and drive is taught, predictable and worlds away from the original bouncing, sloshing stock configuration (a definite con). Adding to the road holding abilities are big Michelin Pilot Super Sports wrapped around one-off Billet Specialties wheels with the white walls built in. Yeah, I said built-in whites. If you’ve never seen this sorcery in person, the white part is actually on the wheel, allowing modern rubber with the classic look. Wilwood discs serve as their backdrop front and rear as well as hauling the drop top to a stop in a hurry.

In the end, we’re looking at a ’57 Ford, originally designed to inspire Americans to hit the open road, explore the country and reach for the stars. V8 power, maximum comfort with styling fit for a rocketship were the name of the game, and if your neighbor was a little envious, well that just tips the pros/cons list toward the positive. The Kindig-It Design ‘57 still meets the original goals set by Ford in 1957, in spades.


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