1958 Ford Ranch Wagon
When we talk about 1950’s automobiles we tend to look at the coolest looking vehicles. Much of this is probably the fact that 1950’s designs were quite different from anything before them. The story of the tail fins with the latter 1950’s models is a good example. Ford Motor has a long background in the station wagon market. The first was the 1929 Ford Wagon. The first wagon that Ford built that was totally in-house was a 1937 model. These were wood trimmed mostly commercial vehicles. By the 1950’s Ford reverted to the all steel body for their wagons, the last with any real wood ended in 1952. In the late 1950s, Ford Motor Company completely restyled its lineup to compete with the offerings from General Motors. For the 1957 and 1958 model year Ford Motor also offered the Del Rio Ranch Wagon. Buyers of the Del Rio wagon had the option of a two tone paint scheme, four way power seats and a better quality interior. The Del Rio also had the two piece tailgate which was utilized on all Ford wagons. The Del Rio was a sports wagon but was discontinued after 1958 with only a bit over 12,000 units sold.
If variety is the spice of life then this car could be put into the category as hot, with a pinch of sweetness. For consignment, a 1958 version of the Ford Ranch Wagon, with a handsome two tone paint job, a basic entry level wagon with some extra spice added in the form of a small swoop spear accenting the rear fenders. As for fins, we are in the tasteful era, and not yet out of control from the designer’s pens. An older cosmetic restoration still looking great today and an upgraded drivetrain make this former sunny California built and resident vehicle a great runner and driver.
New for ’58 dual headlights on either side with an upper overhanging visor flanks a smiling chrome trimmed grille with a chrome mesh backer with the obligatory big bumper below with a central dress up bumper guard, you are now in 1958 and looking very cool. Colonial White painted hood, fenders, door tops, and glass surrounds blend nicely with the Silverstone Blue roof and lower body panels. A reverse Z swoop spear is highlighting the fins and delineates the two tones on the body as well as adding a wonderful highlight to the overall look. On the back, the rear quarters have some nice fins with large chrome bezel tail and reverse lights. These frame the dual opening, (glass up, gate down), tailgate with the Ford crest on the gate release. The bottom roll panel is painted more of the Silverstone Blue and hanging below is a wide, large and in-charge bumper with dual exhaust peeking out just in front of the wrap-around sides. Chrome is all good and the Ranch Wagon in your grandmother’s script gives some extra wow to the already eye-catching fins. Gaps are well minded and the body panels are straight, but we do note some rust bubbling coming through on the lower body panels along with some evidence of body filler on the rockers. Keeping this 50’s cruiser on the ground are black 15″ steel wheels with Ford dog dish caps wrapped in medium width whitewall rubber.
Within all that greenhouse glass is a mixture of dark blue, medium blue and light blue all in stitched vinyl with some chrome dress up for the delineation strip, window cranks and actuators. The door panels appear as nearly new and have a charming SIlverstone Blue metal sill up top for just a bit of extra color. Inside, a split back bench for the front and a full bench for the rear, all wrapped with pale blue vinyl bolsters and blue woven cloth and vinyl inserts with pale blue piping. The material on the seats is looking just fine. Fronting all this seating is the original dash, all steel and all Silverstone Blue with the gracefully curved instrument and speedo eyebrow showing the clean and well-preserved white face gauges within, various controls, the original AM radio, clock, and various knobs and pulls. Just below, blue carpeting is lapping at the seats and thresholds and covers the front and rear passenger compartment. The dash is a wraparound style just like the windshield above, and the headliner is a nice and tight blue broadcloth. Moving to the rear, we note plenty of room to haul your goods and sundries and if extra room is needed the rear seat can easily be folded down.
A lift of the forward hinged clamshell hood and what to our wondering eyes does appear but a Thunderbird 312ci V8. This has a 4-barrel carburetor atop, and it’s covered by the correct air cleaner assembly in white. Nice Thunderbird emblazoned valve covers can be seen, and the engine bay overall has a light patina. On the back is a 3-speed manual transmission with overdrive which pushes power back to the rear axle which is a Ford 9-inch with 3.89 gears.
Some light surface rust on the usual suspects and some invasive rust for the passenger’s inner panel behind the rear wheel but otherwise we note strong steel for the frame with an application of undercoating that is somewhat unevenly applied but everything is still very sound structurally. The original floor pans are on this car and rockers underneath are rust free. Independent coil springs for the front suspension and drum brakes for the front wheels, and on the back are leaf springs with more drum brakes. A dual exhaust is now on, and while surface rusted in areas, remains in good condition.
This Thunderbird engine fired right up, and we flew off to the Classic Auto Mall test track. Here it performed swimmingly with nice acceleration, and smooth column shifting. Cornering was just a bit lumbering but remember we are in 1958 and in a fairly large car so it was as expected. Braking was bias free and strong with not too much foot input required. At the time of my drive all was functioning properly and I even had my cohort take a lap around so I could sit in the “way back” and wave at my many fans.
A nice example of rarely seen 1958 Ford automobilia: some visored headlights, a swoop spear in two tone, wrap around glass, and snazzy interior could have been pulled out of the local drive in. An upgrade to the 312ci Thunderbird V8 and an overdrive transmission and there could be a lot of cruising in your future running around impressing the chicks.
A-223ci Inline 6 Cylinder
R-San Jose, CA Assy Plant
R-2 Door Ranch Wagon
130421-Sequential Unit Number
BODY 59A-2 Door Ranch Wagon
COLOR TE2-Silverstone Blue, Colonial White
DATE 27A-January 27th Build
TRANS 1-3 Speed Manual
AXLE 4-Ford 9″ 3.89 Conventional
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Location: Morgantown, Pennsylvania, United States