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312 V8 Survivor: 1955 Ford Ranch Wagon

When Ford redesigned its cars for 1952, they retired their wood-bodied station wagons, making way for the company’s first all-steel-bodied family trucksters. At first, the Ranch Wagon was based on Ford’s entry-level Mainline cars, while more upscale wagons were called the Country Sedans built off the mid-range Customline. The automobiles were restyled in 1955 and Ford’s Y-block was in its second year as a V8 option. This ’55 Ranch Wagon is a nice survivor with mostly original paint and interior, and a rebuilt motor. It’s located in Spring, Texas and available here on craigslist for $18,000. Our compliments to Ikey Heyman for bringing another interesting find our way!

Ford’s Ranch Wagon nameplate would stick around through 1974. Except for 1963-64, it was a full-size model. After the wood-bodied wagons were gone, Ford buyers could still get the look with the Country Squire that had simulated exterior wood decals. The steel bodies were easier and cheaper to produce and not many people seemed to miss them anyway as wagon sales were strong. By 1955, they were positioned in two series, the Ranch Wagon and Ranch Wagon Custom. Combined, Ford sold more than 84,000 2-door versions with production being split almost equally between the two.

We’re told the seller’s 2-door wagon began life in California and found its way to Texas. It has managed to keep 90 percent of its original white paint, which must mean the other 10 percent was for touch-ups or repairs. It looks nice from all angles, although the scaped off white paint under the hood reveals black on the firewall. That would suggest the wagon actually started out as black in color or that all Ford firewalls were black. Our readers would know.

The interior looks good and is also said to be original, but the cargo area is where any real use pops up. There’ a blanket or sheet over the front seat bottom, which may mean that the cushion needs recovering. But the back seat looks good. The 312 V8 has been rebuilt and the engine is squeaky clean, but may not be period correct. The transmission is a 3-on-the-tree with overdrive. The seller has replaced the wheels, tires and exhaust, and the electrical system has been converted from 6 to 12-volt. The mileage is reported as 100,000 which may mean the seller just doesn’t know.

NADA says “high retail” on one of these wagons is $58,000, while Hemmings has a nice ’56 listed for $33,000 and Hagerty says the Mainline sedan tops out $16,000. So whichever market value you check, the seller’s wagon seems almost like a bargain. It looks more like a Cars & Coffee wagon that should be driven and enjoyed rather than something destined to join a collection and never used. It would be a shame to do anything to it other than the seat cover.


  1. Avatar photo Torqueandrecoil Member

    A couple of red flags here. The 312 wasn’t available in 1955 and it should have been 12volt from the factory. 272 would have been the V8 available and maybe they meant converting the generator to alternator.

    Like 20
    • Avatar photo David Taylor

      Another red flag MIGHT be shown in the cargo pic. The wheel cover LOOKS like it might be fiberglass and has some bad cracks. Any explanation?

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo jim Terrill

      55 Fords did not have 12V until 56…

      Like 15
      • Avatar photo Torqueandrecoil Member

        I had a 55 and it was 12v. 54 was last year of 6v iirc

        Like 2
    • Avatar photo Bill Hall

      The 312 did come until 56, however in 55 even in a wagon you could get a 292 Thunderbird with a four barrel upright Holly card.
      I know this from one of the junky old Fords my dad had.

      Like 4
    • Avatar photo Brian Member

      1955 was still 6 volt.

      Like 8
    • Avatar photo Mike kenny

      I just bought that car from randy, he is a stand up guy. He pulled out the 272 and put the 312 in it , he converted it to 12 volts. He never claimed it was all original. I believe drivers side fender has been changed and tailgate because it says fordomatic. But he pointed all that out. I drove it all weekend and im a happy customer.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Matt Gaffney

      My 1955 Ford Club Sedan was a 6 volt. 1955 was the last of the 6 volters.

      Like 1
  2. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    You’ve got to love these wagons. Nice lines, good engines and would obviously draw attention on the streets.

    Like 6
  3. Avatar photo Chris M.

    This is one example of an opportunity for someone to enter the classic car hobby at a reasonable price. This car is outstanding IMO, even with it’s faults which are minor as far as I’m concerned. With the necessary visual inspection if it looks as clean as it appears make an offer and have a turn key driver.

    Like 12
  4. Avatar photo oldsoldie

    I thought the 272 and 292 engines were available for 55 and the 312 not til 56… The Fordomatic logo on the tailgate and the clutch pedal don’t jive.

    Like 13
    • Avatar photo Ohio Rick

      Believe the 292 was limited to the Thunderbird in 55…at least in the Ford lineup.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Bob C.

        The most common was the 272 for 55 and 56.

        Like 4
  5. Avatar photo Vince H

    55 was still 6 volt. 312 not till 56 same as 12 volt.

    Like 15
  6. Avatar photo JukeOfEarl

    Found this 56 in the woods a few weeks ago:


    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Charles Mann

      Roman numerals XVI is sixteen.

      Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Joe Haska

    I think this is a good price for a this rare body style and its condition. Sure it has some modifications, but they are all positive, 312, 12 volt all plus’s , so who cares if it says automatic and its not. I wish I was in a financial position to buy it, I wouldn’t even negotiate, send the money and go get the car.

    Like 5
  8. Avatar photo Dewey Grimes

    The engine is a 292.

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo Warren Stieg

    Fifty- fives were still using six bolts One of the reasons I traded mine. Hard starting on a cold morning.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Freddy

      Mine had five bolts per wheel

      Like 1
  10. Avatar photo randy garcia

    Ok guys the motor is not original..I put rebuilt 312 in the car..and it’s been converted to 12v..the rest of the car is original with a few touch ups on the paint.. serous inquires you can reach me at randy35@sbcglobal.net

    Like 20
  11. Avatar photo TouringFordor

    We had a ’55 wagon. Six volt, 272. We also had a ’55 F-600. Six volt I converted to twelve, and a 317.

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Sam Shive

    My 56 F-100 Panel was 12 V. With a 292

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Charles Lambour

    Lincoln converted to 12 V in 55, Ford and Mercury to 12V in 56.

    Like 2
  14. Avatar photo Freddy

    For the love of God, enough voltage talk. Ok, better than political talking heads on tv. Carry on!

    Like 6
  15. Avatar photo Big Al

    Electrical bolts, not wheel bolts.🤔 And they are knuts anyway. LOL , And yes, I wish I had the $$ , love this car!

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo BFrank

    Agree that the engine and other upgrades are a plus even though they aren’t original.
    Cut my teeth in the automotive hobby on a 53 wagon with a 6cyl (loved that glass float bowl on carb) and 2 speed automatic.
    Got it at the ripe old age of 12 for mowing a neighbor’s yard, and he even towed it over to my parents farm.
    Spent a lot of time tearing up the pasture and tearing it apart and putting it back together.

    Like 6
  17. Avatar photo DON

    My father had a brand new 55 Ranch Wagon ; he bought a new 2 door wagon every other year that he used in his job as an electronics salesman. Unfortunately, his wagon and his Bosses new Studebaker ended up flooded up to their roofs in salt water when Hurricane Connie hit New London . Lucky for him he had insurance !

    Like 3
  18. Avatar photo Patrick Mercadante

    We called them lot cars when I was a kid. Your story brings back good memories. Thank you. Patrick

    Like 2
  19. Avatar photo JukeOfEarl

    A friend’s mom had a 56 wagon. My friend and his brother shared a go-kart. Their mom would take them and the kart to the Rose Bowl to “race” it. My mom had a 57 2 door Ford wagon. Powder blue and white. We’d put my kart into the back and she’d take me to the Rose Bowl too. I have no idea how my tiny mom and I got the Kart into the back of the wagon. anyway these wagons bring back great memories.

    Like 1
  20. Avatar photo JukeOfEarl

    Here’s a 55 I saw in a shop in Putney, VT last summer.


    I really think that radiator is beautiful. I’m looking for a radiator for another car and on Ebay there is a GPI radiator, with fan, for $375.

    Anybody have any experience with them?


    Like 0

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