Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The 1957 Ford (Supercharged) F-Series

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Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and to see if a Supercharged bomb can be included. Ford was fighting for dominance at the stock car tracks throughout the country, and was neck and neck with it’s crosstown rival Chevrolet. Little did anyone know, Ford had an ace up it’s sleeve. Lets all discover the 1957 Ford Supercharged “F” Series. And no, it has nothing to do with trucks!

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By 1956, Ford and Chevy were locked in a dogfight with stock car racing dominance at stake. Neither company had been a factor in this competitive realm during the first part of the 1950s, when Hudson, Oldsmobile and Chrysler were the major players. However, with the introduction of Chevy’s new 265 Cu In V-8, and winning a few Stock Car events during the 1955 season, Ford came back in 1956 with 12 wins under it’s belt, with Chevy only taking 4. So in 1957, the Chevy small block was enlarged to 283 Cu In, and with the offering of dual quads or fuel injection, saw horsepower ratings go to 283.

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It didn’t take long for Ford to realize it had to do something to fend off the attack, and fast. Ford boss Robert McNamara outlined a counteroffensive in the form of a supercharged 312. Time was of the essence, and McNamara wanted 100 units completed in time for NASCAR’s Daytona Speed Trials in early February, thus meeting the sanctioning body’s homologation requirements. In little more than two months, the necessary number of cars were built. Two high-performance engines (a 312-cu.in. 8V carburetor engine developing 270 horsepower, and 285 horsepower with a special camshaft) were approved for installation in the Ford car and Thunderbird. McNamara went on to say that it was the opinion of Ford Engineering that these engines were not powerful enough to compete with Chevrolet’s fuelies and other makes and that engineering recommended installing the McCulloch superchargers, bringing the horsepower rating to 300.

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Ford went on to win 26 of the races held during the 1957 season, with Chevy capturing 21 in a closely contested season. However, right in the middle of the season, the Automobile Manufacturers Association unanimously recommended that the industry take no part in automobile races that emphasize speed and power, and promptly pulled all of their support. Never the less, the horsepower wars were in full swing, with Ford and Chevrolet at the forefront. Which brings us back to this edition of the Obscure Muscle Car Garage.

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To make sure that there was a sufficient number of cars built with this special engine, the competition engine was installed in almost every model across the Ford line. As you would expect, Ford installed the 312 Cu In Supercharged V-8 in the 1957 Ford Thunderbird, with an option price of $500 (a lot of money in 1957). As is the result of a price premium this large, there were only 211 produced.

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1957 also saw the debut of the Ford Skyliner Retractable Hardtop Convertible. Today, we take for granted that there are retractable hardtops, with models like the Volkswagen Eos, and Volvo C70 in production, but in 1957, this caused a sensation. They were rather expensive in their day, yet sold in acceptable numbers. And yes, the 300 HP Supercharged engine was available in this model, though only a handful were produced (reports say less than 10), with only 6 surviving today.

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One of the most unusual models to have this engine installed would be a 1957 Ford Country Sedan. This is really a distant relative of the performance estates that were available throughout the 60′s, right up through the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon. There is but 1 left today.

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Even though the supercharged 312 was a one-year wonder, no doubt helped by NASCAR’s April 1957 ban on fuel injection, superchargers and multiple carburetors, it lives on as one of the most powerful Ford V-8′s developed. With horsepower rated at 300, and torque ratings of 300 lb ft, it rivaled the Chrysler Hemi in a smaller package, and lighter weight.

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So, are Fords equipped with the “F” code Supercharged engine a worthy Obscure Muscle Car, or is it just another anomaly that doesn’t deserve a second glance. Discuss, and respond.

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Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!

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16 responses to “Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage – The 1957 Ford (Supercharged) F-Series”

  1. racer139 Avatar

    Make mine a country sedan, white on black with black or red interior please. I'll swing by the dealer and pick it up on my way out of town on vacation.

  2. $kaycog Avatar

    While I really like the Swallow Top, I have a thing for '57 T-Birds, but I've never thought of it as a muscle car even with the supercharger.

  3. MVEilenstein Avatar

    If only they had installed one of these in an F-Series pickup.

  4. MVEilenstein Avatar

    the Automobile Manufacturers Association unanimously recommended that the industry take no part in automobile races that emphasize speed and power
    Communists.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      I was thinking "LeMons supporters."

      1. FreeMan Avatar

        I was wondering what kind of "audomobile race" didn't "empahsize speed and power".
        You have answered my question.

    2. Ate Up With Motor Avatar

      Really the opposite: A bunch of businessmen who were increasingly nervous about how much money racing was costing them, but for marketing reasons were only willing to back down if everyone agreed to do it at the same time. It was like the automotive equivalent of SALT.

  5. mdharrell Avatar

    That's a nice Skyliner but it's not equipped with a supercharger. The top of its conventional air cleaner is visible in the engine compartment. If it really is an F-code car, it has suffered an unfortunate loss.

  6. Batshitbox Avatar

    This is more of an engine than a car model, isn't it? And more of a bolt-on dealer option at that. And only for one year? less than 300 produced? I vote this one out of the OMCG. It's just a tarted up 312 from the year before. Give us a car we might hope to own or at least see a few examples of every decade or so.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      No, it wasn't a dealer add-on. It was a factory option and is stamped as such on the data plate of legitimate examples.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Yes! So much better looking than the current F-150.

  7. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    This is my favorite Hooniverse post ever. And not just because there are my favorite cars ever.
    Ok, so almost entirely because these are my favorite cars ever.
    And the Ford Y-blocks are among the best sounding engines ever made. From idle to full wail, the song is remarkable – especially through a nice set of glasspack duals.
    In fact I was just musing on FB last night about my life-long quest to find my Eleanor, a certain blue & white 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 rag-top (Sunliner) we once had. It's been nearly 35 years since I've seen it, and I'm beginning to loose hope I ever will again.
    I found this shot on the intertubes a few years ago. It was taken in recent years at a car show in my old Hometown of Grass Valley CA. It could quite possibly BE our actual old car. But after contacting the photographer (real nice fellow btw) the trail once again went cold.
    I don't want to buy the car back, and don't have a place to put it even if I did. I just want to see it again, say "Hi", and fulfill a promise to a tearful 10 year kid who vowed to his favorite thing in the entire world so many years ago… "Someday, I will find you."
    ****HAVE YOU SEEN ME?!? ****
    <img src="https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/8925_1218055576082_6598588_n.jpg"&gt;
    Back on topic, if I ever DID buy the car back, you can bet your ass it would get treated to a nice McCulloch supercharger. Just because.

  8. Dave H. Avatar

    It's hard to look back at the 1957 race season UNLESS you were there. But One overlooked continuious series of tragities was Kept
    away while making the ban on speed equiped ford and Gm cars . and that was Death On The Highways, and alot of it.
    Back then stupid people Spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME , in the sling shot lane. (passing lane) and to hell with the double
    yellow line was common here in indiana. If not drinking with a PBR bottle hanging out the door. ( i seen this stuff).
    SO with this in mind The manufactures of this speed war Backed away from horse power . and its legal liabilaties
    that were just around the corner .and they knew it. seems like thier were more deaths here in the states on our
    highways , over the same time frame as in the veitnam police action. (that cute party in south east asia) .

  9. Phill beuoy Avatar

    I understand a gentleman named marcel d'avanion won over 8 national drag racing championships with "f" fords

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