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Nomad Facsimile: 1956 Ford Parklane

General Motors no doubt thought there was a market for a “sport wagon” and created the Chevy Nomad and Pontiac Safari in 1955. Not to be outdone, Ford followed suit with the Parklane in 1956 but – unlike the others – it did not have a specially-developed body. It was a Ranch Wagon decked out with Country Squire and Thunderbird trim. It only sold for one year and then as gone. The seller’s edition of the wagon is a rare find today and it needs a lot of work, though the motor does fire up with help. Located in Elk River, Minnesota, this Parklane is available here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $9,500.

The station wagon went through a transformation in the 1950s. It went from being a labor-intensive, wood-bodied vehicle used to transport passengers for resorts and the like to a less expensive, steel-bodied wagon that would be built in volume so that America’s families could enjoy. Chevy first hinted at the sport wagon with a 1954 Corvette show car that materialized as a Bel Air instead the following year. Fewer than 23,000 would sell over the next three years, plus a smaller number of Pontiac’s version. Rather than spend a lot of money on tooling for a special body, Ford dressed up its 2-door Ranch Wagon with trim borrowed from or emulating the Fairlane and other higher-end Ford products. Thus, the Parklane was born. Though it would outsell the Nomad almost 2 to 1 in its only year, the Parklane did not return for 1957 when Ford revamped its line-up. After 1957, GM would do the same with the Nomad/Safari.

This ’56 Fairlane was in Texas before the seller acquired it. It’s a project vehicle at this stage though we’re told it does run if you feed gas to the carburetor. We don’t know which engine is in the car because several were available, but the 292 cubic inch Y-block borrowed from the Thunderbird would be a good guess. Producing 202 hp, it was the mid-level engine offered in the Parklane. The gas tank is not hooked up, so the seller will likely want to go through the fuel system from A to Z to get it going again. The automatic transmission was working previously but won’t go into gear now and the seller thinks a leaky tranny pan may be the source of the problem.

Surface rust is present in a bunch of places inside the wagon and the only real issue might be some smaller pinholes under the doors. Many of the chrome pieces have been removed from the body that wears two-tone paint (common for the Parklane), but they have been retained and might be complete. The wagon comes with extra parts like fenders and a correct hood since it’s wearing one from a ’55 Ford right now. One oddity here is the red dashboard: it doesn’t go with the rest of the interior colors and looks so nice that maybe it’s a transplant. If you have some friends who have a Nomad or two, why not turn their heads by showing up with Ford’s short-lived counter-maneuver to the sport wagon!


  1. Yeti

    Unidentified barely functioning engine, trans that doesn’t work, all for bargain price is $9,500.

  2. Mike

    One of a few cars that should be pulling a canned ham trailer.

    Like 9
  3. Steve Clinton

    This was no competition for the Nomad.

    Like 4
    • Allen Libecap

      …..Hmmmmmm…..Sold twice as many…and didn’t fall apart by 1960! definitely no competition….that would be the job of a dodge wagon.

      Like 12
      • stillrunners stillrunners Member

        Ouch…..but not against a D-500 wagon !

      • Wayne front Oz

        Sold twice as many? Price wouldn’t have anything to do with it?????

      • Wayne from Oz

        Probably sold twice as many because they were cheaper.

  4. BOP_GUY Member

    Well, I’ve always wanted the Pontiac offering during this time, and would be my first choice. But I look at this and it excites me, I’d love to spend a couple days cleaning and detailing this baby! Then go from there on getting it back on the road….

    Like 2
  5. Ken

    Mr. Dixon the same vehicle in1957 was called the Del Rio. Gone in 1958

    Like 1
  6. Kenneth

    Renamed the Del Rio in 1957. Gone in 1958.

  7. Russ Ashley

    I’ve always liked these. Friends had a two tone blue one back in the late sixties that was like new. I liked it then but had no place to keep it or would have tried to buy it. I’ve always liked Nomads but with the condition being equal, I’d rather have one of these.

    Like 4
  8. Charles

    1956 Ford Parklane Wagon with Matching Teardrop Camper
    on youtube

    Like 4
  9. Frank

    For the restoration people, Coyote!

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