You may have noticed we like featuring unique cars in the pages of FSC, so when our publisher Aaron Hahn told us about his neighbor, Robert Lee’s clean ’57 Ford Custom 300 Tudor, we were intrigued, as that’s not a car we typically see at the dragstrip. After looking at the pics of his clean nineteen fifties creation and learning he was putting a modern powertrain together including a blown small-block, a Centerforce Dual Friction clutch, and TREMEC’s TKO 600, we wanted to share this build with the readers of FSC. It’s not too often you see these cars built with both classiness and performance in mind and according to Lee, this one will has plenty of both.
The 1957 Ford Custom 300 is just one version of a platform with many options. In ’57 a plethora of trim lines were offered, starting with the base “Custom,” “Custom 300,” “Fairlane,” and the top-of-the-line “Fairlane 500.” While everyone was after the ’57 Chevy, there were a select few, like Los Alamitos, California’s Lee, who wanted the Ford version.“I had one when my wife and I were dating,” Lee said. “I bought this one in 1998. I found it in an Auto Trader ad and it was located in San Bernardino.” When Lee bought the car it had a fresh turquoise/white paint job, a very mild Ford 302 and a worn out Borg-Warner T-10 four speed. “The car had no floorboards and the kick panels and tunnel were badly rusted too,” Lee said. For the next decade, Lee and his neighbor Rick Crawford made it their mis- sion to restore the 300 to its factory condition, but instead of doing a plain resto job, Lee had plans to make it perform as well.
“When the 302 small block in the car expired in 2001, it came off the road and Lee had a Hot Rod Magazine inspired 351W built to replace it.” “The engine was built by Advanced Engine Machining in Huntington Beach, CA and has performed very reliably and well for a little over 13,000 miles,” Lee said. With the non-boosted Edelbrock RPM engine package, the engine delivered 345 hp to the rear wheels, according Lee, but his desire for power did not stop there. “After installing the Paxton-Vortech 1200 supercharger, the output was upped to nearly 475 hp and the car remained very streetable. I haven’t had the car on the strip since adding the blower package. This particular blow-through supercharger package was developed for the 1967 Shelby’s and the only modification I’ve had done to it is to move the air intake to the blower away from the headers to the outside.” Ryan Auto Designs out of Fountain Valley, California fabricated a complete air intake package for this ride, which directs air to the blower from the driver’s side of the grill.
Rick determined Lee would need a custom cross member. Leaving the transmission supported by the trans jack, Rick then measured the stock transmission rear cross member and cut it into three pieces. The two outer pieces of the stock transmission mount would bolt into the stock location on the frame, then a new center section was fabricated and welded together to both support the rear of the transmission and attach the emergency brake mechanism properly.
With nearly 500 hp under the hood from the boosted Ford crate motor, the Lees aren’t letting it go to waste. “The car has only three passes on a quarter mile strip, two of them on the BFGoodrich street tires and no traction bars. The tires just went up in smoke. I’ve had one pass with the traction bars and M/T Street Radials, same mph, but too much traction (bogged at the line) and before I could adjust the tire pressure, sudden high Santa Ana winds ended the race,” Lee said. “I’m looking forward to getting the car back onto a quarter-mile strip, as with the blower installed, the car really comes alive when the boost kicks in,” he said.
In this article we cover what it takes to put a TREMEC trans under an older body style car, all in hopes that Lee’s cool Ford throw down some quick times at the new NMCA WEST’s drag racing series, and of course Lee plans on cruising around the various SoCal car cruises and car shows too with his blown, gearbox-equipped Tudor.