Jay Gribble's 1957 Ford Custom
(from Volume 24, Issue 297)

story and photos by Michael B. Kelly


Inspiration comes in many forms, and at many different stages of life. For Jay Gribble the madness started in 1959. It was his junior year in High School, and he had built himself a 1933 Chevy Coupe which was powered by a small block and ran in the D/Gas class. Success came pretty regularly at his local dragstrip in northwest Texas, and as such it made Jay feel ten foot tall and bulletproof.

One Sunday morning when Jay showed up to the drag strip he saw one car pulling another into the track, which was a pretty big deal at that time. The car in tow was a 1957 Ford Custom, and it was certainly impressive, let alone to such a young hot rodder. The ‘57 Ford was powered by a 312 cubic inch engine with a Man-A-Fre intake topped with four two-barrel carbs. The driver and tuner of the car, Jay later found out, was none other than Eddie Hill (who would later become very famous with his Penzoil sponsored Top Fuel Dragsters). Needless to say, that ‘57 Ford Custom lit up the dragstrip, and left quite the impression on Jay Gribble.

Fast forward 60 years, and now Jay has the 1957 Ford Custom of his dreams. One walk around the car and you will notice many subtle and not so subtle touches that make it stand apart from the crowd at a car show. Dream Cars of Naples performed numerous body modifications, including recessing the front headlights into the fenders. The front bumper was cut and tucked in closer to the front fenders on each side, plus a 1/8 inch spacing was maintained between the bumper and the filler panel between it and the grill. Speaking of the grill, a custom one was made by using two stock units, with custom running light bezels incorporated, and the stock turn signals removed for a cleaner look....all of which was done by hand with no CNC work. Out back the rear bumper was cut, and now utilizes front bumper ends tucked in tight to the body on each side. The rear bumper was also cut and modified to accommodate the custom rear exhaust tips, giving it a very unique look. The rear wheel wells were moved forward 3/4 of an inch, and tubbed to accommodate the larger wheels. The tail fins were lowered, and the lenses frenched in. Completing the exterior is super straight black paint, complemented by a set of Schott rims wrapped in Pirelli rubber.

The attention to detail is carried over inside as well. That includes the upholstery by Dale of Dade City, Florida, with trim custom made by Jason Norberg of Norberg Designs. A set of bucket seats have a custom console running between them, which is home to the manual shifter, while a custom CON2R steering wheel sits atop an Ididit column. The dash was smoothed and the air conditioning vents were frenched in. Front and center now reside a full compliment of Dakota Digital analog gauges which give a modern feel, and are surrounded by more custom trim work. Plush brown leather throughout ensures that the interior is just as stylish as it is comfortable.

While there are lots of surprises throughout the car, looking under the hood certainly reveals another one. Power is now provided by a new supercharged Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 motor. In stock form it puts out 540 horsepower, but thanks to a pulley change on the supercharger the engine combo in Jay’s car is pumping out closer to 600 ponies. Fresh air enters via the plenum in the front fender area thanks to custom ducting, and spent gasses exit thru a set of custom made headers. The Ford stock radiator and serpentine belt system are still utilized, incorporating the stock power steering, power brakes, alternator, and air conditioning units. The Ford main engine computer was used, and piggy-backed with an aftermarket computer that eliminates all but 6 basic functions and a tuning port. All unnecessary wiring and hoses were eliminated, and items that were necessary were covered with custom metal panels.

The build was just completed, and the first outing was the NSRA Southeast Street Rod Nationals at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on April 5th-7th, 2019. This is where we saw the car and shot the photos, and it rightfully took the Ford In A Ford pick during Sunday’s awards ceremony. There is no doubt this car is going to get attention everywhere it goes, but for Jay the most gratifying part just might be that he finally has a cool 1957 Ford Custom, which was his inspiration as an impressionable hot rodder 60 years ago. CN