1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Supercharged
Q: Greg, I enjoyed your article on the Graham Supercharged. I had a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 with the optional 300-horsepower supercharged 312-V8. My friend bought the car from Wilford Ford in Jackson Heights, NY, for $3,600.
After about six months of numerous traffic tickets, it was re-possessed and that's how I obtained it for the measly sum of only $1,800.
It was quite a fast car back then, and I'm wondering if you know how many of these 312-V8 Supercharged Fairlane 500's were made? The serial number was F7FV-298033. I only ever saw two others in my area and one was a retractable hardtop. All of the cars were black, and mine came with a Borg Warner T-85 overdrive manual transmission and a 9-inch 3.89 rear.
As you look at the pictures, you and your readers will see I made many modifications to the body, and put on Edsel bumpers, Edsel station wagon taillights, 1958 Ford headlights, and a Meteor grille with a repaint from black to blue. The photos show me 50 years younger! Thanks much, Herb Wederman, Ronkonkoma, NY.
A: Herb, you sure had a grand old time back then with this high performance sleeper! I've always loved the 1957 Ford style, and your "treatments" sure made it stand out. The year 1957 also proved to be a great year for Ford sales, as a record of 1.7-million cars were sold. It was the first time since 1935 that Ford outsold Chevrolet.
Your 312-inch V8 with the supercharger is very, very rare as only 975 were ever installed in full size Ford cars and just 211 on the 2-seater Thunderbird. Additionally, only 13 of the total 1,186 supercharged engines came on those retractable hardtops you mention, making the supercharged '57 flip top one very exceptional Ford. Your serial number validates the authenticity, as the important "F" code proves it was indeed a Supercharged 312 V8 built in Dearborn, MI.
The 312 Supercharged engines came thanks to Ford's Robert McNamara, who told Ford engineers to quickly build 100 of them so they could pass the NASCAR "production quotas" and compete in NASCAR races. And win Ford did, scoring 26 victories versus Chevy's 21. In 1958, NASCAR outlawed multiple carbs, fuel injection and superchargers, so the supercharged 312 became a "one year wonder."
I know most fans of this column have owned some great cars in the past, but your 1957 Fairlane 500, which was the top line car that year from Ford, is indeed one the rarest that has passed over my desk thanks to that factory Supercharged V8 under the hood.
Thanks for the letter, Herb, and if you see that retractable around let the owner know it's worth some real big money these days, as are the other supercharged 312s.
(Greg Zyla writes a syndicated auto column on collector cars, auto nostalgia and old-time racing. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail at 116 Main St., Towanda, Pa. 18848).