Nobody said, “What Edsel?”
In the midst of hundreds of hot rods, street machines, muscle cars, classic trucks, and race cars, it was a burgundy custom Edsel creating a big buzz at the SEMA Show in October, and again at the Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) in Pomona in January.
Edsels hold a well-known place in American automotive history. Introduced for the 1958 model year and abandoned three years later, the marque was a famous failure for the Ford Motor Company and has remained popular mostly as a symbol of unpopularity. Even so, the Edsel has always had its dedicated, diehard fans. After memorable appearances in Las Vegas and Pomona, this burgundy and silver 1958 Edsel Ranger, built by Bobby Alloway and the team at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop, has caused that list of fans to expand exponentially.
Kathy Lange of St. Louis, Missouri, is not a recent convert. She has been an Edsel fan since she was a little girl. “When I was around 5 or 6, living in a small town in Kansas, my friend’s uncle had one,” she remembers. “It was a convertible. He’d drive it around town and we’d sit in the back seat waving to everybody we saw.”
Everybody involved agreed that if you’re going to build an Edsel, you ought to lean into it, keeping that Edsel identity front and center even amid all the great custom modifications. A concept illustration from Eric Brockmeyer provided a starting point for the design and a running but worn-out 1958 Edsel Ranger from Charlotte, North Carolina, provided the raw material. Without a lot of reproduction parts available from the aftermarket, Alloway turned to salvage yards for his search for the parts he needed. “I must have every original Edsel piece out there,” he told us. “So nobody can build another one!” And since the goal was to retain the stock look, factory lines were kept intact. Edsel fans at SEMA and the GNRS (and some reading this) noticed that Kathy’s Ranger has been customized with front fender trim from the Pacer model, and rear quarter trim from the Citation model. The custom burgundy and silver paint combination was Kathy’s choice and was shot at Alloway’s using PPG products.
Billet Specialties has supplied one-off Alloway-designed wheels for numerous vehicles built at the shop. These five-spokes add some ’60s muscle car flavor not usually associated with Edsels, but in this case it’s a perfect match. At 17×7 and 20×10, with 225/50R17 and 295/50R20 Toyo Proxes tires, the rolling stock combo is perfectly proportioned to the car—especially with that characteristic Alloway stance provided by the custom Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) chassis with Strange Engineering shocks and springs at both ends. Rack-and-pinion steering is updated with an electric power unit from American Powertrain. At the back, 4.10 gears spin in a Currie Enterprises 9-inch, located by the AME four-link with a Panhard bar. Wilwood 13-inch rotor/six-piston disc brakes are mounted at every corner.
The front-hinged hood lifts to reveal a beautifully finished engine compartment housing a blown Ford 5.0L Coyote engine, painted the same burgundy color as the sheetmetal but with a contrasting semigloss finish. Roush did the assembly on the 700hp big Blue Oval crate engine, adding a Roush supercharger, manifold, and fuel injection system. Custom coil covers from Greening Auto Company feature Coyote lettering. Headers and stainless pipes from Barillaro Speed Emporium carry exhaust gases from the Coyote to Borla ProXS mufflers. Alloway’s installed a TREMEC TKO 500 five-speed transmission behind the Coyote.
The interior, like the exterior, was built with respect for the factory design but modified in a way you would expect in a Coyote-powered Edsel on an AME chassis. The horizontally mounted “rolling dome”–spinning 120-mph speedometer was the centerpiece of the factory instrument and is restored and retained on Kathy’s Ranger. The other four gauges were refurbished and converted to electric by Classic Instruments. The original Bakelite toggle switches below the gauges (lights, power antenna, courtesy lights, fan blower, wipers, and cigarette lighter) were discolored and crumbling with age and have been replaced with custom-made 3-D–printed replicas.
Steve Holcomb at Pro Auto Custom in Knoxville was commissioned to upholstery the Edsel’s interior. The charcoal gray color was a unanimous decision, and Moore and Giles premium leather was used to cover a pair of 1964 Thunderbird seats and the matching rear bench. Other interior details include the fabricated console, Vintage Air A/C, and a Corvair steering wheel atop an ididit column.
This cool, Alloway-built 1958 Edsel ended up not being a surprise for Kathy, but it’s been a big surprise for thousands of people who have been seeing it in person or in print, wherever it shows up. The car received a Special Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Design award from Ford at the SEMA Show. At the GNRS it won a STREET RODDER Top 100 pick. As Kathy’s Edsel makes the rounds at car shows, the number of awards—and the number of Edsel fans—will just keep getting bigger.
SOURCE: HOT ROD