Sacrifice is experienced by all but the luckiest of entrepreneurs who dare to take the risk of starting their own business. Unless there's a large cache of cash that can be tapped for start-up funding, most will begin scanning their possessions for quick sales. Occasionally it even requires one dream to be surrendered for the sake of another. Tom Fry has been there; he's now a successful businessman and owner of Crown Disposal, but 50 years ago he had to part ways with his beloved 1960 Ford Starliner to purchase his first truck.
Thanks to a full frame and...
Thanks to a full frame and a lack of shock towers, Galaxies are one of the few '60s Fords that can swallow the girth of the 5.4 Mod motor without major surgery, but the dry-sump tank and the A/C still needed to be relocated to the trunk. Bodie Stroud and his crew did such a clean job, it almost works against them; most people just assume it's a standard Mod motor, rather than a GT engine, and thus have no idea how hard it was to get it in there.
It was more than just the head-turning good looks provided by the slick, swept-back roofline and striking horizontal fins atop the quarter-panels that Tom missed; it was the memories and connection he had with the Starliner. It was a hard-earned prize for a young man. Tom had managed to not only work hard and save enough money to purchase a gorgeous red-on-red car in the first few weeks of production in late 1959, his was blessed with the sought-after 360hp high-performance Thunderbird Special version of Ford's 352ci FE big-block that packed 10.6:1 compression, solid lifters with dual valvesprings, and an aggressive cam. That was near the top of the heap of Ford's Total Performance offerings for 1960, and quite a car to keep an 18-year-old kid amused for a while.
Did we say a while? We meant a week. Tom didn't care for how close the Chevys around the neighborhood were to outgunning the heavy Starliner, so he was at the speed parts counter looking for more right away. "It didn't have trouble outrunning anyone after that," Tom told us with a laugh. But as we mentioned, the good times didn't last long; within a year Tom had to make the painful decision to look to the future and sell the Starliner for seed money to open his own business.
Here's a bit of trivia: Because...
Here's a bit of trivia: Because of its horizontal fins, the '60 Starliner was actually too wide to be street legal. Ralph Nader tried to get Edsel Ford to change it, but he just played phone tag with them for a few months until the all-new '61 models came out.
The gamble paid off. Tom has a head for business and that one truck eventually became a fleet, providing opportunities for him to enter other business avenues and pursue such dreams as fielding his own NASCAR team under the banner of Crown Motorsports. But in the back of his mind, Tom never quite got past the Starliner's departure, and always harbored a nagging regret over losing it. Of course, he could have just bought another one, but that really wasn't the point.
Fast-forward to 2005 when Ford released the GT supercar for sale. Tom was instantly struck by the timelessly cool styling and decided to put his name on the order list. Unfortunately, so did a couple thousand other gearheads and the expected delivery time grew annoyingly long-as did the outrageous scarcity markups slapped onto the GTs. Tom eventually decided to cancel his Ford GT order, but not necessarily give up on the incredible 5.4L GT engine. He'd done his research before deciding on a purchase and was impressed with the technology and capabilities of the blown mod motor. Tom placed another order, this time to Ford Racing for one of their limited supply of official GT engines.
Originally Tom figured it would make a killer swap for his Lightning pickup, but installing the reconfigured GT 5.4 proved to be a tremendous task not worth the undertaking. But what to do with it? At 35 inches high and 28 inches wide, those massive engines don't fit easily in anything that wasn't factory designed for them.
Luckily for Tom, he had a friend with the perfect concept to prevent two dream cars from getting under his skin. Bodie Stroud of BS Industries proposed dropping the GT engine into a '60 Starliner and creating the ultimate homage to both cars. Sure, the Starliner may easily be physically large enough to swallow the GT engine, but it would be no small feat to mate the two. But, oh what a car it would be! Tom was hooked and planning began right away.