Its performance and sleek ’60s-style is a magnet for vintage car buyers
By: Larry D’Argis
The Ford Fairlane was introduced in 1955 as Ford’s upscale model. Named after Ford’s Fair Lane estate near Dearborn, Mich., it was a name that would appear on many Ford cars through to 1970. The Fairlane continued to be the top model until 1957 — with the introduction of the Fairlane 500 — and bowed to second place with the introduction of the 1969 Galaxie.
The model would continue in second place for full-size Fords until the introduction of the new mid-size Fairlane and Fairlane 500 models in 1962.
Power for the new Fairlane came from both a 170-cubic inch inline, six-cylinder and new thin-wall, lightweight casting Windsor V-8. Initially debuting at 221 cubic inches, the engine would soon be enlarged to 260 cubic inches in 1963, and 289 cubic inches in 1964. The 289 V-8 was a great engine offering, not only good performance, but also reasonable economy on both the street and highway.
By the mid-’60s the Fairlane was a solid seller for Ford and driven by the performance wars, the high-performance 390 big-block V-8 would find its way into the enlarged engine bay of the 1966 model. Partially prompted by the drag racing success of the 100 specially-built 427 cubic inch Thunderbolt Fairlanes, introduced in 1964, the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” banner would continue to be carried by the Fairlane lineup. Also introduced in 1966 was the Fairlane 500 XL package, which stood for “eXtra Lively”.
The XL treatment included bucket seats, sculptured centre console, XL badging and additional side trim.
For 1967, the Fairlane line would account for 238,688 sales with Ford and of those 14,871 would be the Fairlane 500 XL model. Today, the 116-inch wheelbase model still resonates with vintage car buyers, who recognize the car for its performance, mid-size capacity and sleek ’60s-styling, making it a sought-after and collectible classic.
For Doug Chaput of Lorette, the Fairlane was the one to have. “I saw one when I was 16 and knew I wanted one because they were different,” Chaput says.
Unlike the more popular Mustangs, Camaros and Chevelles, the Fairlane was unique, with its kicked-up rear fender line and a pronounced front-to-back bodyline.
While the years would tick by, Chaput started looking in earnest about two years ago, combing the magazines and online sites hoping to find just the right car.
Chaput says, “I wanted one that didn’t need thousands of dollars in rust repairs and one that was in good condition and driveable.”
In May of this year, he spotted a restored ’67 Fairlane 500 XL for sale in Vernon, B.C. After many emails and telephone calls, Chaput flew out to see the car, and ended up driving it home on a trouble-free trip back to Winnipeg. Sold new from Fogg Motors in New Westminster, the car would later be sold to a neighbour of the original owner, who kept the car and later gave it a full restoration.
A rust-free example, this Fairlane was finished in a bright Ruby Red metallic base/clear paint. The black vinyl interior is completely original except for the carpet. The factory 200-horsepower, 289-cubic-inch V-8 was completely rebuilt and fitted with Fluidyne three-core aluminium radiator, along with Headman tube headers, leading to a 2.5-inch diameter full dual exhaust system with Pro-Series 4 stainless mufflers. Backing the 289 V-8 is a three-speed C4 automatic transmission leading to a 2.79:1 geared eight-inch Ford rear axle.
The car also features power steering, power front disc brakes with upgraded slotted rotors, tinted glass, and factory AM radio, which is aided with a glove-box installed compact disc player to supply the road tunes. Curb appeal is attributed to the 17-inch Foose five-spoke, chromed, aluminium wheels wrapped in Potenza radial tires.
Since May, Chaput has added a six-blade flex fan and chrome fan shroud, to aid the cooling capacity in slow traffic and a fully electronic distributor from Davis Unified Ignition for reliability. Inside, the original steering wheel was replaced with a woodgrain unit and future plans call for the addition of a four-barrel carburetor and intake manifold to slightly upgrade the horsepower.
Chaput has already rolled up more than 2,500 miles on the Fairlane attending many local shows and cruise night events.
“I wanted to find a nice one that I could drive, and this is it,” Chaput says.
When it comes to the adage that, “good things come to those who wait,” one could say in the case of this Fairlane, Chaput hit the jackpot.