A Ford Ranchero was an automobile that was half-car and half-truck. The front was from a passenger car joined mid-section by a cargo bed in the back, forming the perfect suburban errand-runner.
In regards to Don “Sparky” Sparks 1957 Ford Ranchero we’ve brought you here, add a dash of Larry Watson, a skosh of Edsel, and other Ford jewelry to the aforementioned greek-folklore analogy and the result is one mythical kustom.
Sparks, hailing from Carrying Place, Ontario, Canada, showed us his Centaur Ford and what a knockout. With the right stance and tweaks, the car oozes a one-off swagger. There are obvious modifications, but others only reveal themselves after several viewings.
The Ranchero was discovered in an abandoned warehouse property in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the mid-1990s along with a couple of other vehicles. Someone had been working on the cars but mostly they were unfinished projects.
No one claimed ownership when the property was sold, so the buyer of the warehouse passed the Ranchero on to his brother-in-law who had an interest in a mild custom project. It transitioned through two other builders/owners before Sparks bought it in 2013. It was a little run down and needed a freshening, but overall was in good, solid shape.
The list of mods is extensive, so let’s take it from the top. The fenders have been mildly peaked and headlights recessed using ’56 Mercury pickup bezels with the grille opening molded to a lower valance. From there a ’55 ‘Vette grille is widened by six extra teeth, and a center bar is extended the same length. Early ’70’s Harley taillights as turn signals are anchored to the grille ends, keeping the horizontal flow across the front end clean.
Look closely and you can see the grille header panel molded into the fenders and seams filled. A ’58 Ford hood was nosed and peaked to continue the mild peaks incorporated into the fenders. A bullet-style insert is built into the hood scooped area.
The doors and tailgate are shaved and smoothed. A tonneau cover from a ’70s Chevrolet pickup was trimmed and reshaped to match the Rancheros’ moldings to highlight the bedsides and tailgate.
Edsel never had an equivalent Ranchero, but Ford did offer a wagon that shared certain trim with the ill-fated brand. Incorporating ’58 Edsel Villager taillamps was a clever and very effective trick. Quarter-panel top edges where raised 3/8-inch to make the transition to the Edsel lights flow smoothly. Stock ’57 Ranchero bumpers where retained, but the OEM guards were removed and smoothed to clean up the bumper lines.
The rig is sprayed out in a 2013 GM Corvette shade fittingly called “Blue My Mind,” with added blue pearls and mini-flake to enhance the late-’50s Kandy Color fade that dominated back in the day.
While we’re on the subject of dominant trends, the next addition was white scallops laid out to enhance the car’s body lines and intricate panel sculpturing, an old trick right out of Larry Watson’s playbook. PW7 Chrysler white is frosted with a coating of blue pearls in the final clearcoats. The same scheme was applied to the tonneau cover, but in reversed color shades to highlight the tonneau and the large expanse it covers.
Sparks tells us, “My painter (Dean Dillon of Professional Collision Clinic, Oshawa, Ontario) and I got busy on the project, and in six months it went to Dean’s shop for the new colors and scallops. The combination draws a lot of interest as it re-kindles the early Kustom era so prominent in the So Cal area in the late-’50s and early-’60s. All scallops have been pinstriped in a light blue by one of Canada’s legends, Mr. Rollie Guertin.”
An interesting note on the car’s history is it was once pinstriped back in the ’90s by Canadian-legend John Connery (famed bike builder and painter and House of Kolors distributor in Ontario, Canada). John is no longer with us, but the name he gave her “Summertime Blues,” lives on.
The interior was just completed by Sparks’ brother, Bob, at RCS Upholstery Service. Stitched up in a traditional tuck-and-roll pattern, with a peak in the seat to continue the visual flow of the peaking on the fenders and hood.
Bob used a pure white (to accent the body colors) topped off by mid-blue carpet, to continue the exterior into the interior. The dash and all interior trim have been painted a pure white to keep the accent to the exterior colors and cleanliness going.
The old Ranchero has an ’84 Olds Cutlass G-Body front clip installed, along with Street Source two-inch-drop spindles to get a good ride with a modified stance. Factory GM disc brakes and power steering are a benefit as this car is no trailer queen, built for show and go.
The rear axle is the original 9-inch that came in the car some 60-years ago with gearing that makes it a sweet highway cruiser. Rear springs are Posie Super Glides de-arched 3 inches with Teflon inserts. Shocks at both ends are KYB gas units to smooth out the ride.
For motivation, a small-block-Chevy V8 uses an Edelbrock carb, mild RV cam, and ’80s HEI ignition using Accel parts and Taylor Cable products. All this is backed up by a factory TH200 R4 transmission unit using a Lokar tall shifter to access the gears. Sparks says this combo has been very reliable. Another reliable thing is the crowd that gathers around Summertime Blues, where ever it goes.
Awards - Don "Sparky" Sparks 1957 Kustom Ranchero "Summertime Blues"
2017 Custom Car Revival in Indianapolis — Kustoms Illustrated magazine “Award of Excellence”
2017 Last Chance Car Show, Welland, Ontario Canada — ” Top 30 Award”
2016 & 2018 Autofest Nationals — “Old Skool Award” for customs
Many local show awards for Best Custom, Best Paint, Best Interior, and People’s Choice