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 a lack of shock towers, Galaxies are one of the few '60s Fords
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 of its horizontal fins, the '60 Starliner was actually too
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.
Inside is a melding of stock and custom with a console that runs the length of the interio
As they discussed progress regarding what the Starliner should and shouldn't be, it quickly became obvious that this was going to be much more than a big engine swap. Rather than make the massive modifications necessary to the stock frame, an Art Morrison Max-G chassis made more sense. And while they were swapping the chassis, they may as well make it handle respectably. After all, it just wouldn't do to drop a GT engine into a pig that wallowed through turns. That led to the engine being set back several inches in the chassis and the whole build being carefully designed to create as close to perfect a weight distribution as possible. With a final 51/49 front-to-rear weight bias, light it's not, but well balanced it is.
Even more than that, it needed to be a comfortable tourer that felt like the GT's hot rod cousin. That meant integrating more stock Ford parts along with carefully designed custom fabrication to create an interior that had a natural flow with excellent livability. Eventually that interior encapsulated the entire wiring harness and computer systems from an actual GT. "It's not just the engine; this thing thinks it's a Ford GT," says Clark Gillie, a crewmember at BS Industries who assisted on the build. Why go to that length? Tom drove his first Starliner everywhere, and he wanted to be able to do the same with this one-his expectations for the drive had just gone up.
Why is it called "Scarliner?" When Tom Fry bought it, the car seemed solid and well kept.
While it was all fair game under the sheetmetal, on the outside Tom wanted it to look like just a sweet red Starliner. That meant dropping the engine low to keep the blower under the stock hood and refinishing all of the trim and badging rather than taking the easy route of shaving it smooth. In fact, there is only one major deviation from stock aesthetics: the customized exhaust ports in the rear bumper.
For what sounds at first like an awesome but potentially incongruous list of elements (stock Starliner body and trim, Ford GT supercar engine, interior reminiscent of an Aston Martin), the final result is startlingly perfect. That's not just to our eye either. At The 2009 SEMA show, the Scarliner was a runaway success and even earned the prestigious Outstanding Achievement in Design award from Ford, as well as several sincere offers to purchase it from Tom for a tidy profit. Tom wasn't interested in the least. After all, he finally got his red Starliner after 50 years of absence, and that's a lot to make up for. Half a century is a long time, but after watching the Scarliner come together from beginning to end, we say this one was worth the wait.
|'60 Ford Starliner
|Built by Bodie Stroud Industries; Tom Fry, owner
||Ford GT 5.4L (331 ci)
||dry-sump with Ford pump, custom tank, and plumbing by BS Industries
||stock Ford forged crank and pistons, shot-peened H-beam rods
||Ford GT DOHC aluminum, four valves per cylinder
||stock Ford GT; .466/.456 lift, 197/197 duration at .050
||stock Ford GT valves, cam followers, and springs
||stock Ford GT aluminum intake
||Lysholm twin-screw supercharger
||custom polished headers and 3-inch stainless pipes by BS Industries, Borla Mufflers
||twin 32-lb/hr injectors per cylinder, custom stainless steel tank
||stock Ford GT coil-on-plug
||550 hp at 6,500 rpm and 500 lb-ft of torque at 3,750 rpm, per Ford specs
||B. Hubbard and Bob McIntyre at Ford's Romeo Engine Niche Line
||'06 Ford Lightning 4R100
||custom 9-inch by BS Industries with 3.50 gears and LSD diff
|WHEELS & TIRES
||18x7 and 20x15 Bonspeed Wildthang
||26x8.00R18 and 31x18.00 Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R Radial
||Art Morrison MaxG PROFile IFS
||Art Morrison MaxG PROFile triangulated four-link
||14-inch Porsche GT3 carbon ceramic with ABS