The 1956 Ford varied only moderately from the 1955 models. The taillights were larger, and the grille completely filled the opening with chrome parking light housings wrapping around the front of the fender opening. New models for 1956 were the Parklane two-door sport wagon, the Customline Victoria two-door hardtop and the 4-door hardtop Fairlane Town Victoria. The 272 cid V8 now delivered 173 horsepower as an option in the Mainline and Customline models. A new 312 cid "Thunderbird" engine produced 215-225 horsepower was optional in all models. The 200 horsepower 292 was the midrange powerplant offering.
In 1956 Ford began promoting their optional "Lifeguard Design" safety features. All models were equipped with dished steering wheels (the 2-1/2 recessed hub was touted as lessening injury to the driver in the event of an accident), padded dash and sun visors, a break-away rear view mirror and seatbelts. The demand for seatbelts was so high that Ford's suppliers couldn't keep up, so only about 20 percent of the 1956 Fords got them.