1957 Ford Ranch Wagon “Christine”

Christine is a 1957 Ford Ranch Wagon. She was purchased at the Mecum Dallas auction in 2011. We drove her home to Houston with no problems and then the fun started. She broke down a few times and left us stranded, but after a few repairs she was reliable again. We even took her on a 3,000 mile road trip on Route 66 in 2021.

In 1957, the Del Rio Ranch Wagon was introduced and replaced the Custom Ranch Wagon and Parklane. The completely restyled 1957 Ford was longer, lower, roomier, and sleeker.  The frame got wider and was supported by an entire new suspension and new more powerful engine offerings.  In 1957, the 2-door Del Rio Ranch Wagon was very popular and outsold the Chevrolet Nomad 46,105 to 6,103.

Mecum 2011

Here are some pictures after we got Christine home


During to first two years of ownership, I had to sort out some reliability issues. None of them were major, but I did get stranded a few times!

November 2011 Breakdown #1 – Starter

Starter malfunctioned and jammed the engine.

March 2012 Breakdown#2 – Gas Tank

When filling up with gas a leak developed a the top of the tank where the filler tube enters. Turns out the 55-year-old Oring finally failed. It was hard to find the replacement part, but fairly easy and cheap to fix.

June 2012 Breakdown #3 – Fuel Pump

The previous owner had installed an electric fuel pump to make the car easier to start. Turns out it burned out and stopped pumping gas to the engine. Luckily the original mechanical fuel pump was still on the engine so all we had to do was rerun the fuel lines to that pump. Problem solved! Elena figured it out and suggested the solution.

July 2012 Breakdown #4 – Ignition Problem

On the way to a coffee and cars event, the engine started to sputter and backfire. It backfired so bad that it blew out both mufflers and I had to put in a new exhaust. There was a problem with the distributor and the engine finally stopped running. I had the distributor rebuild and got it running again. Also had to replace the exhaust!

February 2013 Breakdown #5 – Fan Belt

I drove the car to work on a Friday and while on the freeway I heard a weird noise in the engine, but it kept running fine. I noticed the engine temperature creeping up, but I made it safely to the office. When I opened the hood, I found a belt had shredded and the fan and water pump were not spinning. Had the car towed home and replaced the belt. No issues since!

2011 Photo Shoot

2012 Repairs

Christine had a series of leaks that needed to be addressed. The rear axle leaked at the yoke as well as the axle seals. The manual transmission was removed, partially disassembled and resealed. A leaking freeze plug on the engine was also replaced.


In 2013, I took the car into a local shop for them to do a little work. Unfortunately, they parked the car outside with the driver window rolled down and there was a rain storm that day. I picked up the car and when I got home, I noticed there was standing water on the floor in the back seat. I picked up the car on Friday afternoon and they were closed by the time I noticed the water issue. I removed the seats and carpet. I then setup a fan in the garage to help dry the carpet over the weekend until I could get in touch with the shop. They picked up the car Monday and got everything sorted out.

2015 Gas Station Photoshoot

There is a historic gas station near where I live in Cypress, Texas. The parking lot was empty one day and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to stop and take some pictures.

2015 Halloween

I really enjoy setting up for Halloween and have started to incorporate the cars with the skeletons.

2017 Blanco

I have family in Blanco, Texas and took the opportunity to bring the car there and enter it in a local car show. I wasn’t completely confident it the wagon so I towed it up on a trailer.

It was nice that the picture made the front page of the Blanco paper. However, the headline that day was not very flattering.

2020 Halloween

With COVID we had to get creative. I built a candy slide to deliver treats and stay 6′ away. Not sure how that helps since I was touching the candy prior to putting it in the slide. Oh well, whatever makes people feel more comfortable. The bride and groom were back this year in the station wagon and the truck made it’s debut this year.

2021 Trip Prep

Suspension & Tires

Added air shocks to handle the weight of the luggage and passengers for the long trip. Note that the tires are still the bias ply “skinny” tires

Got another set of wheels and tires for the trip. I purchased a set of 14″ rims from a trailer website and had them powder coated red. I also purchased some BF Goodrich Silvertown white wall tires that were much wider than the originals. The new BFGs were hard to balance and were a little out of round.

Fuel System

In addition to tires and wheels, we also replaced the 60+ year old gas tank. The tank was in good shape, but didn’t seal very well around fuel level sending unit on top. The new tank wasn’t cheap, but we were fortune that they still reproduce them since they only fit the station wagon and ranchero that have the filler on the driver side fender. Sedan and convertibles have the filler on the rear of the car.


Since I bought the car in 2011 the wipers never worked right. It works on a cable system with tensioning springs, and I assumed that one of the tensioners was bad. I actually bought a replacement set of pulleys, cables and springs from a salvage yard. However, before I installed them, I found the real problem. Turns out the driver side wiper arm is 1″ longer than the passenger side and it was hitting the trim on the windshield. I bought two new wiper arms that were 12″ long from the pivot to the center mounting point of the wiper and all was well. It only took me 10 years to figure this out. In my defense, I rarely drive the car in the rain so the wipers were not a critical item.

Engine Overhaul

While the engine had run fine for about 10 years, I wasn’t comfortable taking it out on a 3,000 mile trip. So I decided to have the engine overhauled. I used a local shop to remove the engine and then sent it out to a 3rd party to have it rebuilt.

Here is the engine after the rebuild. In addition to rebuilding the engine many of the other components were refurbished or replaced. This included a new water pump, harmonic balancer, clutch and ignition system.

Here is the new engine back in the wagon. Also decided to dress it up with some new aluminum valve covers.

2021 Route 66 Road Trip

Trip Start – Woodlands, TX 9/23/21 6:30 am

Choctaw Casino – Durant, OK

Heart of Route 66 Car Museum

Tulsa Oklahoma

Route 66 Café – Clinton, Oklahoma

Route 66 Museum – Clinton, Oklahoma

Okie Trading Post – Sayer, Oklahoma

Cadillac Rach – Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo Sunset

Route 66 Auto Museum – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Really cool museum in New Mexico. They build the cars at their shop down the street. It is more of a private collection displayed in a museum setting.

Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, AZ

This was the must see attraction for me on this trip. Glad the station wagon made it this far. She blends right in with all the other vintage cars.

Look! Another Ranch Wagon

Town of Holbrook, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Jack Rabbit Trading Post – Joseph City, Arizona

Winslow Arizona

Well, I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona

And such a fine sight to see

Twin Arrows – Flagstaff, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

We had time for a quick stop in Sedona for lunch.

Tucson, Arizona

Pima Air and Space Museum – Tucson, Arizona

The Pima Air and Space Museum was an amazing place to visit. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend it.

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Couldn’t pass up a chance to get this picture while driving through New Mexico at sunset.

Alien Adventures – Roswell, New Mexico

Evidence of alien activity in the parking lot or could it be our persistent oil leak?

Lunch Stop – Post, Texas

Final as Gas Stop – Waco, Texas

Trip End – Cypress, TX 10/1/21 11:01 pm

Post Trip – Repairs and Maintenance

Throughout the trip we had an oil leak. We added about half a quart of oil each time we stopped for gas during the trip.

The shop that rebuilt the engine couldn’t find the leak and they replaced multiple gaskets and even installed different valve covers.
A few weeks after we got home from the trip, I decided to track down the source of the leak. I got all new gaskets for the top end of the engine, but I did a little more inspection before I started tearing things apart. It turned out that a bolt hole in the cylinder head was open all the way to the inside of the engine. The solution was simple and I solved it by plugging the hole with a bolt! That would have been something nice to do before the trip since we used about 8 quarts of oil along the way on the trip.

2023 Windshield Washer Installation

There was an existing foot operated windshield washer pump installed under the dash and it actually worked! I purchased a kit for a 1957 Thunderbird that had most of the hoses and fittings that I needed. Unfortunately, they don’t offer reproduction spray nozzles that connect to the end of the hoses. I was able to find a salvage yard online that was parting out a 1957 Ford sedan and I was able to get them from French Lake Auto Parts in Minnesota. They were extremely good to work with unlike some other salvage yards that said it wasn’t worth their time without even discussion price.

Miscellaneous Car Shows

Towne Lake Car Show (RIP Paco)
The Vintage – Coffee and Cars
Trunk or Treat Halloween Event – Niftee 50ees

Christine’s Auction History

Mecum Dallas 2011 Consigned by Auto Collectors Garage
2009 Barrett Jackson Scottsdale
2008 Barrett Jackson Scottsdale