Thursday, September 8, 2016

50 year old Ford Fairlane 500

This blog was launched with an absurd Cadillac that looked like it hadn't left its East Village block much during its difficult lifetime. I recently found myself in the same area and was greeted with this very serious looking executive:
What a confident looking car! 
This is a 1966 Ford Fairlane 500 in what I think is Sauternes Gold Poly. Somewhere along the way the bumpers seem to have been painted which is normally a fireable offense in my book. However in this case with the remaining trim left shiny I like it.
The Fairlane was introduced in 1955 and continued on as either a full size or mid size car all the way through the 1970 model year. This iteration is the 5th generation which was launched in '66. The lines are clean and balanced with just the right amount of styling cues to keep it from being boring.
Like most Fords the Fairlane could be had with any number of engine and transmission combinations from the lowly 200 inline 6 with a three-on-the-tree manual up to an exceedingly rare 427 V8 set up for Nascar racing. This ride has the 289 V8 that also found its way into the original Shelby Cobra.
*I went to high school with a motorhead who had a 2 door Fairlane of this vintage that supposedly had an engine that somebody offered him $10,000 for. The only setup I can imagine being that valuable back in 1990 would be the mighty 427 which I believe was 1 of 57 total built. Even the rarest of muscle cars were widely available when I was a teenager!
This era was considered mid size but the scale of the trunk is pretty generous today.
These taillights are clean and strong with the reverse lights placed in the middle of the red lens. You can see the faintest memory of a fin on top of the quarter panels now vestigal like the leg bones of a whale skeleton.
Too bad this beauty has a proper rub/scrape along the quarter. What it does show is a lack of Bondo though; it looks like this beast has made it five decades without rusting out.
This car is as basic as can be; bench seats, no air conditioning, and no radio! To the right of the speedometer is a wide Ford logo. That is the radio delete which is a factory cover over the opening when you choose not to get a radio. You'll now notice that there is no antenna on this car nor evidence that there ever was one. The rarest of these non-options is the heater delete! In the '60s you could still order a car specifically with no heater at all for which you would get a small amount off of the total price. I've only seen one and it was a stripped down Chevy from about '65.
The 5th generation Fairlane lasted only from '66-'67. The easiest way to discern the two years is the grill; 1967 had 4 vertical bars in addition to this horizontal one.
This treatment for the stacked headlights with the lower pair being set back makes for a nicely aggressive look. I really love the front of this generation Fairlane. Its sibling the Mercury Comet looks slightly different but fantastic nonetheless.
Well there we have it; someones seriously cool cruiser parked among the boring vehicles of today. With the roominess of a 4 door and the power of the 289 this would be a great car to go on a long drive with friends. The fact that it's the least desirable body style just makes it more affordable. All of the mechanicals are widely available even today as well which makes this an eminently usable classic.

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