My first car was a 1954 Ford Victoria (two door hardtop).
Original brakes were totally inadequate and mine were not power brakes. Very easy to get brake fade when the fluid overheated.
No power steering so your arms will get built up.
But worse is the original V8 engines, 235 cu. inch as I recall, had a casting defect where the casting sand from the mold remained around number eight cylinder causing that cylinder to overheat causing the piston to crack.
The straight six was better for reliability.
So if you were to load down that old girl even with a light
camper you might put a nail in the casket.
the 272 introduced in 1955 or the 292 in 1956 or even better the later 312 mentioned above that I think was in the Mercury.
An engine swap would be easily spotted by a purist because the later ones had a bigger timing chain and cover thatwould not allow the spacer between the water pump pulley and fan wouldn't fit.
Your picture brings back memory of my high school years.