It’s a dream of many in the vintage auto community to take a long-distance road trip in the car they restored. For most, that is a fantasy that may never come to fruition, but for Stanley Woods of Menlo Park, California, he is living that dream right now.
I am just having so much fun that I don’t know what to do. — Stanley Woods
“I feel like a kid in a candy store,” Stanley explained. “I am just having so much fun that I don’t know what to do.”
Stanley is from Louisiana and planned the trip to go back and visit family. He has been meeting old friends and making new ones all along the way.
“I haven’t met a stranger yet,” he added
Stanley’s long relationship with his Ranchero started about 22 years ago when he bought it in East Palo Alto, California. The car came with a six-cylinder engine and three-on-the-tree transmission that he promptly tore out and ditched.
“I knew I wasn’t going to use any of it,” he explained.
He bought a V8 for his car, but the valves were slapping and it didn’t work out so the car ended up in storage for what turned into an extended 17-year stay. It didn’t come out until he retired and his son had a dream that the owner of the facility where the car was stored had sold the car.
I told him I wanted one for my car, but he told me that it wouldn’t fit. — Stanley Woods
“I went over to check on the car and my son was right,” Stanley explained. “He was moving and if I hadn’t gone to check I would have lost my car!”
Stanley got it out and got it running, but wasn’t all too happy with it. He ended up seeing a 1985 Mustang that someone did a modern engine swap in and he loved the idea of doing something like that. He asked about the engine and the owner explained that it was a Coyote 5.0-liter.
“I told him I wanted one for my car,” Stanley told us, “but he told me that it wouldn’t fit.”
Stanley ended up befriending the guy that put the Mustang together, Anthony Hines, and enlisted his help in getting a Coyote engine for his own car. Anthony found an engine that Stanley bought and the two of them rebuilt it.
“We put it together and it’s running,” he explained. “It brought me all the way here.”
Stanley was sitting in Louisiana at the height of his road trip when we called and spoke with him.
Getting his hands on the engine was just step one in a long list of steps that had to be taken in order to get his car running the way he wanted to—he still had to get that big engine into his relatively small car.
“I put in Mustang II front suspension,” Stanley explained, “so it already had room for a bigger motor, just not the Coyote.”
It took a lot to get that big engine to fit, and it required a lot of trial and error. The engine even ended up getting stuck in there, so they almost weren’t able to get it out.
Getting the engine to fit was a big ordeal and Stanley says he couldn’t have done it on his own. He wanted to make sure to thank Anthony Hines for helping him acquire the engine and rebuild it; Lupe for building the transmission crossmember and the exhaust; and Jose Lopez for helping get the engine back out when it got stuck.
Most of all, Stanley wanted to make sure that he thanked his son Alex.
“My son was there the whole time. Every bolt that I put in, he was there. He didn’t do it, but he was there,” Stanley said.“Without him, I wouldn’t have finished this project.”
“I helped with each part of the car as it was being done,” Stanley told us. “When I had the mufflers done I worked with the muffler guy. When I had the interior made I worked with the interior guys. It was a win-win and I learned a lot.”
With everything completed, Stanley has an awesome car that he’s taking on an amazing trip across the country, all because he didn’t listen to people that told him he couldn’t do it. They said he couldn’t get the Coyote engine in his car, but he did it anyway. People told him not to take the trip in the old car, but he did it anyway.
“People kept telling me no, don’t do it.” Stanley said. “But when it comes down to it, you only have one life to live.”
And with that, Stanley is driving a car across the country and back with an engine everyone told him wouldn’t work.
“The car is comfortable, loud, and sweet. I am in my own work right now,” he enthused. “This has been a great trip.”