Owner Of 1957 Fairlane 500 Wants To Know If 1957 Ford F-250 Is Worth Adding To Collection

Greg Zyla
A Reader Writes: Hello Greg. I have a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 that I bought in 2017 for $14,000. The original 312 cubic inch V8 was old and tired with 275,000 miles on it. So, I replaced it with a 292 cubic inch V8 from a 1956 Ford F-250 pickup that had just 75,000 miles on it.
I live in Hawaii, and on Maui we have a lot of 1957 Chevrolets around. But to see a 1957 Ford is a rare site. They just aren’t as popular as the 1957 Chevrolets.
The 1957 Ford was the first year with its new creased body panels that may have contributed to early rust out problems on Ford and Mercury models. Even the 1958 Ford is a rare site on my Maui island but we do have two 1958 Chevrolets including a 2-door Biscayne and a Yeoman 2-door wagon nearby. As for Chrysler cars from 1957 and 1958, they are also very rare.
Is my 1957 Ford a decent project and investment? The body and interior are both in good shape. Thank you, Glenn J. Molina, Kahului, HI.
The Author Responds: Glenn thanks for your letter on the scarcity of 1957 and 1958 Fords in Hawaii. As for your question, your project in my opinion is indeed a good one as your Ford sure sounds to be in great shape. I do have a recommendation, too, but first a bit on the hobby and your 1957 Fairlane 500.
Most enthusiasts today get involved in the collector car hobby for one of two reasons: love of the car and/or for the investment opportunities. Granted, there are those who buy collector cars for both reasons, but I find from the many letters I’ve received that love of the car many times trumps the investment hopes and concerns. I’ve seen collectors spend way more on a car that might not be worth as much in the future mostly for love of the car and rekindling nostalgic memories that date back to an owner’s childhood.
Although it’s clear the 1957 Chevrolet is one of the all-time great collector cars, many don’t know that the 1957 Ford actually was more popular during that all-new model year. The 1957 Ford was the best selling car of the year, and outsold Chevy for the first time since 1935. Both featured new designs, but the Ford's chassis, unlike Chevy’s, found passengers sitting lower to the ground and below the side frame rails.
Although you mention how much you paid for your 1957, which seems to be a fair price for a 2-door Fairlane 500 with a 312, I will emphasize that if your car still had the original 312, be it the 240/245-horse four-barrel or the 270-horse dual four-barrel, your car would command more money today from an investment standpoint.
With current NADA values over $30,000 in top shape to $25,000 in good condition, the original 312 powered Fairlane 500s and Tudor Club coupes are unique as the 312 was noted in 1957 as a high performance engine. Noted for powering the Thunderbird, these 312 engines had valve covers that were Thunderbird specific yet included on the Fairlane 312 models.
Offered as an option in the Tudor models and standard in the Fairlane 500, your Fairlane with the 292 from 1956 is the only area I would address if investment value is a major concern. Thus, in my opinion, I would rebuild your 312 and drop in back in if you still have it.
Being that Ford never was much for number matching examples, if you don't have your original 312, you can hopefully find a 312 for a decent price. However, I say hopefully because even though most of the bolt-on parts are still out there today, it is the 312 factory block that will be difficult to find. Ford pulled the plug on the 312 Y-block when the manu-facturers pulled out of racing (supposedly) and is a theme I have written about before. As you found out, the 292s are plentiful, but the 312s are not.
When the 312 debuted in 1956, it was a 215-horse version until 1957, when an increase in compression raised the horsepower output to 240 or 245 (depending on transmission) and is listed as a D-code 312. The dual-quad is known as the rare E-code and with another rise in com-pression it put out 270-horses. Then there was the F-code, where a dealer installed option found the installation of a McCulloch/Paxton centrifugal supercharger that delivered the optimal of 300-horsepower. A friend and owner of the former Syl Worhacz Ford in Shamokin, PA, had an F-code 1957 Thunderbird supercharged 312 and it was displayed in the show-room many times back in the 1970s and 1980s.
Either rebuilt or not, and hoping you kept your old engine, the 312 will immediately improve the value of your Fairlane 500. Originally, the base price of your car was $2,439 back in 1957 and the current NADA price, with the 312, goes all the way up to $25,000 in good shape to more than $33,000 in excellent condition. If it is a supercharged 312 model, prices escalate to $50,000 in excellent shape and $38,000 in good shape.
I could go on and on about the 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 with the 312 engine, especially the race versions that put out even more horsepower, but I really should stop here. I’d love to hear back from you with a few photographs of your car.
Remember, you don’t have to put the 312 engine back in, but if you are concerned about future value, that would be my recommendation.
Thanks for your letter.
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