(Image/Wild Wes Paintworks)

Wes Adkins, proprietor of Wild Wes Paintworks in Dover, Ohio, is currently working on customizing a very special 1956 Ford Fairlane.

What’s so special about it? The car was originally restored by Wes’ dad, Willard over 30 years ago for the car’s owner, Tony Confalone.

Williard did such a good job restoring the Fairlane that when it came time to turn it into a radical custom, Tony kept it in the family and brought the Fairlane to Wes.

Though the original restoration was top-notch, 30+ years of driving in Ohio weather took it’s toll.

As Wes began disassembling the old Ford, rust and rot reared their ugly heads.

The frame could not be salvaged; the same went for the floorpan and trunk as well as the bottom half of the doors, quarter panels, and front fenders.

But the Ford’s condition was perfect for Wes to work his magic and highlight his new business, Wild Wes Hot Rod Factory.

He built a complete custom frame from 2 x 3 and 2 x 4 inch tubing. The front suspension is a Detroit Speed X-Gen 535 A-arm/coil-over setup. Out back is a Ford 9 inch rear axle suspended by a Wild Wes Hot Rod Factory triangulated four-link.

Wes is putting in untold hours of work into the body. He made all-new steel floorpans, trunk, and mini-tubs; custom rocker panels; new patch panels for the quarters; new door skins; and new fenders.

The Fairlane is getting an assortment of other custom touches too:

  • Modified front bumper with license plate pocket eliminated
  • Custom 3-D printed hood ornament rescaled to 60% of the factory ornament’s size
  • Narrowed and tucked rear bumper
  • Fuel filler relocated from under rear license plate to inside the trunk
  • Shaved trunk door lock—replaced with mechanical trunk handle hidden under rear bumper
  • First-generation Ford Thunderbird door handles

Powering the ’56 will be a hot 312 cubic inch Ford Y-block V8 with twin TorqStorm superchargers and Holley Sniper electronic fuel injection.

The engine will be backed by a Cyclone Ford AOD automatic.

Other goodies include:

  • Narrowed Summit Racing Ford 9 inch axle housing with Moser axles, 3.73 gears, and Detroit Tru-Trac differential
  • 14 inch Wilwood disc brakes
  • Mickey Thompson ET Street (335/45-18) and Street Comp (245/40-18) tires on Schott billet wheels (18 x 8 front, 18 x 10 rear)
  • Flaming River tilt steering column with scaled-down ’56 Ford steering wheel
  • Custom-built Be Cool radiator
  • Vintage Air climate control
  • Thunderbird-style front and rear bench seats in factory color scheme by Jeff Elwood

The Fairlane will be at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, and no doubt will be a feature vehicle in some of your favorite hot rod publications. In addiiton to on his website, Wes has posted lots of build photos and updates his Wild Wes Facebook page—they’re definitely worth the time suck.


Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Wes Adkins’ father, Willard, restored this 1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria for owner Tony Confalone over 30 years ago. When Tony wanted to give the car a top-to-bottom makeover, he naturally turned to Wes for a proper job. Willard had painted the car Mandarin Orange and white; Wes will stay with that theme with a custom-mix orange pearl and white pearl paint job. (Image/Wild Wes Paintworks)


This is what was left after Wes took the car apart. Thirty years of Ohio weather were not kind to the Fairlane—the floorpans and trunk were shot, the quarter panels and door skins were half rotted, and the front clip needed a lot of help. Nothing our pro from Dover couldn’t handle. (Image/Wild Wes Paintworks)


The Ford’s frame was a rusty mess and could not be salvaged, so Wes made his own from rectangular tubing. Custom chassis work is part of Wes’ new venture, Wild Wes Hot Rod Factory. The front suspension is a Detroit Speed X-Gen 535 assembly. It comes with tubular A-arms, coil-over shocks, spindles and hubs, rack and pinion steering, and a splined sway bar mounted on a 2 x 4 inch tube subframe. (Image/Wild Wes Paintworks)


This is what hours of metal-pounding can accomplish. You can see where Wes welded in patch panels on the passenger side quarter panel and reskinned about a third of the door. He even made his own custom inner and outer rocker panels.
(Image/Wild Wes Paintworks)


This is the driver side after metal finishing. Those panel gaps look really good, but Wes will get them perfect before he blows the car apart for paint. (Image/Wild Wes Paintworks)


The Fairlane will be powered by a wicked 312 cubic inch Y-block V8 with twin TorqStorm superchargers and Holley Sniper EFI. Here Wes is determining the final engine height before making the motor mounts. The mounting bracket for the blowers is on the left. (Image/Wild Wes Paintworks)


The man sure does nice tin. Wes built new steel floorpans, mini-tubs, and trunk. The thing in the middle is the access panel for the custom Rick’s Hot Rods fuel tank. Wes relocated the fuel filler to the inside of the trunk (the factory put it behind the license plate). He also shaved the trunk lock and made a mechanical trunk release with a handle located under the rear bumper. (Image/Wild Wes Paintworks)


More metal wizardry. Be Cool made a custom radiator for the ’56, and Wes fabricated a header tank top that duplicates the look of the factory radiator. That’s class. (Image/Wild Wes Paintworks)

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Author: Alan Rebescher

Editor, author, PR man—Alan Rebescher has done it all in a 25 year career in the high performance industry. He has written and photographed many feature stories and tech articles for Summit Racing and various magazines including Hot Rod, Car Craft, and Popular Hot Rodding, and edited Summit Racing’s Street & Strip magazine in the 1990s. His garage is currently occupied by a a 1996 Mustang GT ragtop.