Written by Nicole Ellan James
Before cars were built for speed and efficiency, it was all about the experience, style and craftsmanship – making them timeless works of art.
The 1950s often are considered the golden era of automobile styling — and rightfully so. There’s so much about vehicles from this time period that immediately attracts your eye’s attention. Car designers were influenced by space and technology. They combined futuristic motifs such as rockets and space travel with sleek and smooth curves, edges and lines.
When tailfins were all the craze and only getting bigger, Ford completely redesigned many of its 1955 models with longer, lower and wider bodies. The update was also able to support the weight and power of Ford’s “Y Block” engine, which replaced the iconic flathead V8.
The new designs featured two-tone finishes, distinctive brightwork and striking interiors — a look that is often synonymous with the Fairlane Sunliner of 1955.
Other notable changes to the ’55 convertible included an update to the front grille and chrome accents above the headlamps and chrome side-sweep moldings with a wrap-around windshield, which offered a more modern appearance and a panoramic view.
Half a century later, many cars of the 1950s still evoke the same passion as they did when they first rolled off the assembly line. However, this 1955 Ford Fairlane Sunliner would need some updates to bring its beautiful curves into the current century.
It’s very rare to get the best of both worlds, especially when it comes to classic cars. The vehicles undoubtedly lack a lot of modern conveniences, such as air conditioning, that many drivers don’t want to give up. And let’s face it, the brakes aren’t the best — safety seemed to be an optional luxury item in the midcentury.
Today, however, builders can combine the best modern equipment with vintage styling to make a classic car safe and fun to drive while maintaining an attention to detail that provokes conversation the way that only a classic car can.
In other words, restore and modify — or Resto-Mod.
RMR Dream Cars in Hudson, FL, built this beautiful 1955 Ford Sunliner Resto-Mod convertible offered with No Reserve at the 2022 Palm Beach Auction, April 7-9, at the South Florida Fairgrounds. And what a dream it is!
The updated Sunliner has a very “smooth” look. The bumpers have been narrowed, smoothed and chrome-plated, while the black cloth convertible top has had its irons reworked in order to modify the look.
Additionally, the wheel wells were widened to make room for the larger custom wheels it adorns, sized 20×12 at the rear and 18×8 upfront.
The builder was careful to maintain the original 1955 side trim during the build and added a 1956 Ford grille, headlight and taillight buckets to the car. The body was then finished with Deep Impact Blue.
Under the hood, power is supplied by a 5.4-liter supercharged Shelby GT500 engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. In addition to an upgraded blower, the car received a custom chassis with reinforced rails and a Fatman Fabrications front subframe assembly clip to support the power and weight.
In keeping with the “smooth” theme, the Sunliner’s suspension comprises air spring and shock absorbers from RideTech with a complementing 4-link setup and ShockWave system. The driver can adjust the suspension inside the vehicle with the RideTech air Management Control unit.
All four corners use Wilwood brakes to stop the Sunliner; 6-piston caliper brakes are used up front, with 4-piston brakes on the rear.
The interior is dressed in custom black leather and suede to match the black cloth convertible soft top. A smoothed dash houses the custom Speed Hut Gauges, which can be seen above the custom Con2R steering wheel featuring the car’s nickname, “Flatliner.”
A Hurst shifter protrudes from the center console, which houses the Pioneer stereo unit and the Vintage Air climate-control system.
The rough edges created by time have been smoothed out of this classic, yet it still maintains the appeal of a bygone era. Much faster, with a splash of dreaminess added in, this 1955 Ford Fairlane Sunliner convertible is ready to make an impact into the next century.