Don’t let the Florida license plate fool you, Jay Gribble may live in Florida but he is a Texan first and a car guy being a close second. Even back in his high school days he managed to build a competitive D/G car out of a ’33 Chevy coupe. Typical early ’60s gasser, pie crust slicks sticking out past the fenders a bit, jacked up straight axle front end. He put his share of guys on the trailer with the old coupe but one weekend he pulled to the line next to a white 1957 Ford. Without going into too much detail let’s just say that 1957 Ford put his Chevy on the trailer.
Of course the fact that a fellow Texan named Eddie Hill (yes, THAT Eddie Hill) was the owner/driver of that Ford probably had a lot to do with losing that round. Now we’re not sure if it was the clear view of those Ford taillights but for some reason from that day forward Jay Gribble liked the looks of a 1957 Ford Custom and he knew one day he would own one.
Over the next 60 years and after a string of really nice cars (mostly Chevrolets) he still hadn’t scratched that 1957 Ford itch. Finally, the time had come, so Jay went in search of a good candidate and finally located a solid 1957 Ford Custom. The basic sedan is a “post car” which computes to light and rigid.
The team at Dream Cars of Naples handled the long list of subtle modifications. The car was finished early in 2019 and it is one of those cars that just “looks right”. The old Ford draws you in for a closer look and the more you look the more you find. Things like a tucked front bumper and a custom grille that eliminates the stock parking lights and adds two round driving lights. The grille was all hand fabricated from two 1957 Ford grilles. The frenched headlights and shaved hood are a bit more obvious but did you notice the filled cowl and the slightly altered roofline just above the windshield?
At first glance the side view appears to be original 1957 Ford, but in reality the wheel wells have been moved forward ¾-inch and tubbed for larger wheels and tires. The tailfins have been slightly lowered. The factory side trim was polished to perfection and returned to duty.
Moving around back the rear bumper was reformed to fit the body using the ends of another 1957 Ford front bumper. The center of the bumper holds four tailpipes while the fuel filler is located behind the license plate. The taillights no longer look like the ones famed top fuel driver Eddie Hill showed him that day, rather a pair of Vega lenses reside in the molded housings. Mile-deep PPG paint covers the body.
This flawless body mounts to an Art Morrison chassis rolling on Schott wheels. Prior to retirement Jay made his living working with a lot of fast horses in Texas. When it came time for power Jay turned to a fellow Texan and decided a new motor from a Shelby GT500 should work just fine. When it came out of the crate the supercharged motor was good for 540 horsepower, but with just a bit of tuning and some pulley changes the engine now approaches 600 ponies. A stock ’57 Ford radiator cools the engine while fresh air is supplied through custom duct work. Custom headers flow into a stainless steel custom exhaust system. The engine bay is beautifully detailed with hand formed panels and contrasting finishes of black. Power is passed through a Tremec six-speed while Wilwood brakes are found on all four corners.
Inside the car Dale of Dade City, Florida stitched up the beautiful leather interior. Bucket seats reside on either side of a custom console and Dakota Digital gauges monitor the high performance Ford motor. Jason Norberg of Norberg Design custom fabricated all the interior trim pieces. The result is an interior that is beautifully detailed without looking too modern for the car. A CON2R steering wheel rests atop the ididit steering column and Vintage Air outlets are neatly frenched into the dash.
Now that you know some of the details you can understand why we chose Jay Gribble’s 1957 Ford Custom for our Best Ford in a Ford at the 2019 NSRA Street Rod Nationals. This Ford carries a heavy Texas influence from the inspiration to the owner to the power plant and even the air conditioning. While everything is big in Texas this car proves you can make a big statement through many small changes. SRM