The Ford Fairlane introduced in 1962 was a popular car right from the beginning. But while it was well received, its fame rested not on what could be seen from the outside, but what was under the hood; it introduced Ford’s compact V-8, a versatile and expandable engine that grew into a corporate workhorse.
The Fairlane evolved from the market proliferation that began when the Big Three (GM, Ford and Chrysler) introduced their 1960 compacts to counter the rising tide of imports. They took distinctly different approaches.
Chevrolet followed the Volkswagen theme with a flat, air-cooled rear engine and four-wheel independent suspension. Chrysler’s Valiant was more conventional, although it had vaguely European-influenced styling and torsion-bar front suspension. Ford’s Falcon was most conservatively styled, with an inline overhead-valve six.
The Falcon’s approach proved to be the most popular, and this “modern Model A” substantially outsold its more daring competitors.
No sooner had they introduced their 1960 compacts than the manufacturers began further slicing up of the marketplace by introducing what were variously called midsize, intermediates or senior compacts in 1961 and ’62. They were slotted between the compacts and traditional full-size cars.
GM again tried some innovations, such as the Oldsmobile F85’s pioneering small turbocharged aluminum V-8 and Pontiac Tempest’s “hanging rope” driveshaft and half-an-eight slant four. Ford stayed on the traditional path with its new Fairlane intermediate.
The Fairlane name came from Henry Ford’s Dearborn estate, Fair Lane, and had been used on a variety of full-sized Fords from 1955 to 1961. When switched to the new intermediate for 1962, it was advertised that: “This name has a new car.”
It was a very sensible size, because the Big Three’s full-size “standard” cars had ballooned to where wheelbases of more than three metres and lengths over five metres were typical. Weight of 1,814 kilograms required engines of up to 6.6-litre (400 cu. in.) displacement.
The Fairlane’s 2,934-mm wheelbase and 5,019-mm length was definitely a step in the right direction, a return to the size to the original 1955 full-size Fairlane.
The new Fairlane was attractively styled, with strong Ford family hallmarks in such features as large round taillamps, small blade-like fins and a squared-off Thunderbird-style roof.
It had unit construction and suspension similar to the Falcon’s, front A-arms and coil springs and rear leaf springs and solid axle.
The base engine was the Falcon’s optional larger 2.8-litre (170 cu in.) overhead-valve inline six rated at 101 horsepower. Power went to the rear wheels through a standard three-speed manual or optional two-speed “Fordomatic.” The Mercury division would market its version as the Meteor.
It was the Fairlane’s optional engine, however, that was the biggest news and its major claim to fame.
In creating its new V-8, Ford engineers produced one of the best. Using a method called thin-wall iron casting pioneered with the 1960 Falcon engine, they created a V-8 that was even smaller and lighter than the famous “small-block” Chevrolet V-8, which had appeared in 1955.
It had stud-mounted valve rockers similar to Chevy’s and, probably by coincidence, it displaced the same 221 cubic inches (3.6 litres) as the original 1932 Ford V-8. But whereas the first one produced only 65 horsepower, the new one had 145.
Ford engineers left lots of room for expansion, and halfway through the 1962 model year, the V-8 was bored out to 4.3 litres (260 cu in.). It would later be increased to 4.7 litres (289 cu in.) on its way to 5.0 (302), where it would stay to serve as Ford’s workhorse powerplant for 30 years before finally being displaced in 1991 by Ford’s new 4.6-litre overhead cam V-8.
The small-block Ford had its moments of performance glory, too. With its compact size, light weight and good power potential, it was the basis of the aluminum V-8 fitted to the Lotus-Fords that brought the rear-engine revolution to the Indianapolis 500 mile race. Californian Carroll Shelby used a hopped-up version in the 1960s to power most of the famous AC Cobras he created out of English AC sports cars.
The Fairlane was a sales success, selling more than 297,000 during the first model year. It would go on to 344,000 for ’63, slide a little to 278,000 for ’64 and a little more to 224,000 in 1965. A completely restyled Fairlane was introduced for 1966.
Although the Fairlane was not a daring design, it was a successful model that lasted with revisions until 1970. It earned its place in history by introducing Ford’s fine compact V-8 engine that grew.
BY AUSTIN REXINGER — APR 7, 2019
This particular Ford Farilane for sale is worth your attention, especially if classic racing cars are your thing.
This beauty is one of just three cars built by Holman Moody as a period correct replica of the 1964 Daytona running Ford Fairlane 427. Notably, Holman Moody built almost all of the factory Ford race cars of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
The successful history of the car began in 2006 when it finished second overall at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps behind a Ford GT40. The Fairlane took first in class at the Nürburgring in 2009, twice in 2010, and took home first place during the St. Mary’s Trophy race at the Goodwood Revival in 2016. The car was driven by Tom Kristensen and Henry Mann (the son of legendary driver Allan Mann) in the Goodwood race.
As we mentioned, there are only two other HM cars for sale. Both of those cars are owned by one collector in the United States, and neither were raced. This Ford Fairlane for sale is the only HM car that saw the track, and it can be yours for a cool €259,000 ($290,543, at current conversion rates).
The build took place from 2002 to 2003 by order of its first German owner. A 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 2-door hardtop coupe was used as the donor car, and HM specced the replica to be exactly as the original car. Under the hood is a Ford 427 cubic-inch side-oiler V8 race engine with twin Holley carburetors. The engine was paired to a Jerico 4-speed transmission. Inside sits an FIA roll-cage and a 155-liter (40.9-gallon) fuel cell.
Underneath the sheet metal is an independent suspension and 12-inch ventilated front disc brakes and 10-inch wide wheels.
Originally, the car was fitted with fiberglass bumpers, doors, hood, and trunk, but steel front and rear bumpers were added for the Goodwood race in 2016. The car was also repainted to its current livery and a T10 gearbox was installed along with steel HM wheels.
The video above shows how Kristensen managed to push from fourth place to first in just one lap to win at Goodwood. Those who might not be intricately familiar with the man in question, Kristensen is a nine-time winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and also happens to be a current record holder.
The Carlisle Ford Nationals celebrates 50 years of the Ford Torino in style.
In 1968 Ford Motor Company introduced its intermediate line with a new body and new styling and in so doing came a new subseries in the Fairlane line—the Torino. The Fairlane name continued to be used for more economical models and the Torino was considered a sub-series to the Fairlane during this same time. In 1971, the Fairlane name was dropped altogether and all Ford intermediates were branded with the Torino badge. This name, by the way, was one of several originally proposed for what we now know as the Mustang. The Torino also has a Mercury variant in the Mercury Montego line.
By SHAWN BRERETON JANUARY 18, 2019
I’ve got the mother of all scenarios for you. Let’s say you don’t have the time, money, or ability to do a complete restoration yourself. Instead, you go searching for a project that someone has already completed so you can start enjoying it right away. Maybe you buy it sight unseen or maybe you get to drive it a little, but either way it isn’t until it’s in your garage that you figure out things weren’t what they seemed. Now you’ve got to figure out how to fix it.
If it’s an original car or an original-style restoration, you can probably figure out most of the parts you need, even if they come from the aftermarket. Most websites allow you to do searches for the year, make, and model and come up with a replacement “kit” for whatever you are trying to fix. But, what do you do if the car you bought is a restomod where someone has replaced virtually everything on the car, more specifically the chassis, complete drivetrain, and suspension?
This is the scenario I recently found myself in when I bought my father’s 1966 Ford Fairlane. It wasn’t your average Fairlane though, it had the entire drivetrain from a 2009 GT500 in it! Even though my dad built it years ago, he didn’t keep any of the records of where he got parts, so obviously didn’t remember a lot of the particulars to help me fix it. It was like I bought it sight unseen.
Driving a Dump Truck
Here is the problem — the car drove like a dump truck! You could literally feel every bump in the road and it would bottom the shocks out on any little dip. Any bridge transition induced a tense butt-puckering reaction from me. Have you ever had a car so ill-handling that you had to pay attention to how close the cars behind you are in case you need to avoid something? That is how this car was. Because I bought it as a daily driver, I couldn’t deal with it for much longer; it was beating the crap out of me and wasn’t enjoyable to drive — at all.
The original ‘66 Fairlane was a unibody car, but my dad retrofitted it to essentially make it a full frame with a triangulated 4-link in the rear and a Mustang II-style front end. It has sway bars front and rear, but the adjustable coilover suspension had no markings on them whatsoever. To make matters worse, the knobs wouldn’t turn (not even after we took them off). By all outward appearances, this car should’ve driven like a new Mustang, but instead, it drove like a pig.
Getting Expert Help
I knew just who to turn to help fix the situation — the experts at QA1 in Lakeville, Minnesota. I bought QA1’s for my ‘55 Chevy back in 2008 and I absolutely love the way that car rides. The Fairlane has all the right ingredients in place to be a great handling car, so it doesn’t need a major overhaul, it just needs someone who knows what they are doing to instruct me on how to fix the issues at hand.
When I say QA1 are the experts, I truly mean that. It was founded by Jim Jordan in 1993, and at the time specialized in just rod ends and spherical bearings, quickly becoming a leader within the performance racing industry. It wasn’t until 1998 that it got into the shock market after purchasing Hal Shocks. In 1999, they introduced revalveable and rebuildable shocks for circle track racing and it took off from there.
Showing how dominant it had become in the shock world, in 2004, QA1 bought the number 1 manufacturer of performance racing shocks, Carrera Shocks. More recently in 2011, they acquired Edelbrock’s suspension line. This year, they introduced the MOD Shock, which is a revolutionary revalveable on-the-car shock that is sure to become a bestseller.
With that kind of pedigree, I knew they should be able to help me with my situation. I put in a call to Dave Kass, the marketing manager at QA1 to tell him about my situation. I had this car with unknown adjustable shocks (that wouldn’t adjust) and the car drove like a dump truck. Could QA1 help me fix it? He immediately knew what I was talking about.
“We get calls like this on a daily basis where someone has bought a car and is upset it drives so horribly,” Dave says. “A nice paint job and pretty wheels don’t mean the car is going to handle well. Our technical support team has been helping people with unique problems like these for years.” He got me in touch with Bill Foley in the technical sales and support department.
Doing My Homework
Bill called me and gave me some homework to do because there were so many unknowns about the car and it was so far from stock:
- I needed to measure each shock’s length at ride height from center-to-center on the mounts (not very easy to do without a 4-post lift).
- Check the diameter of the mounting holes.
- Weigh the car — preferably with corner scales (there are ways to scale the car without corner scales, check out the sidebar).
One extra measurement I added for myself was the measurement of the body (fender above the wheel hub) from the ground (24.5-inches front and 21.5-inches rear on both sides, respectively). I liked the stance of the car as it sat, so I didn’t want to change that up too much if possible.
I got to work on my homework right away that night and slithered under the car while it was on the ground to get the shock measurements. The diameter of all of the mounting holes was 1/2-inch. The front shocks were 10-inches center-to-center, while the rears were 13-3/4-inches center-to-center. It appeared the front shocks only had about 2.5 inches of travel until the shock was bottomed out and the rear only had about 3 inches — and both showed signs they had been there before. As a matter of fact, the first thing I did after I bought the car was take it to an alignment shop and the tech showed me the front shocks were leaking oil from bottoming out, he surmised.
Over the next weekend, I was able to get the car corner scaled at Racefab Performance who was building a rollcage for my Project CrossTime Miata. The weight surprised us all, coming in at a whopping 3,622 pounds minus the driver. That is pretty heavy for a Fairlane, but my dad had built that full frame to handle the stress from the 550-hp GT500 engine, so it wasn’t that shocking (no pun intended).
Figuring Out What Will Work
With those measurements in hand, I called Bill and gave him the news. He did some calculations and determined that the rear needed Proma Star Single-Adjustable Coilover shock (P/N DS501) with a 12-inch, 170-pound spring (P/N 12HT170). But, he asked if I could raise the ride height to 14 or 14.5 inches, which wasn’t a problem. The DS501 is 11.625-inches compressed and 16.875-inches extended, so 14- to 14.5-inches at ride height would be the sweet spot to allow more compression travel.
As expected, the front shocks were a bit more of a challenge. Because of the short travel, Bill decided that the best way to go was to use a Proma Star Single Adjustable Coilover (P/N DS301), which is 8.75-inches compressed and 11.125-inches extended. He chose a 7-inch, 650-pound spring (P/N 7HT650), which is the stiffest spring QA1 offers. This had me questioning his expertise, because I figured a stiffer spring meant more “dump truck driving” for me, but Bill put my mind at ease and told me to trust him. QA1 hadn’t let me down before, so I had no reason not to.
The last question from Bill was whether I preferred spherical bearings or polyurethane bushings. I chose spherical, seeing the four-link was attached with sphericals already. I also ordered the recommended Thrust Bearing Kit (P/N 7888-109), which would make turning the spanner wrenches easier to adjust the ride height. A few days later a big ol’ box arrived with everything inside ready to be assembled. On the weekend, I took the car over to my friend David Fulcher’s house who was generous enough to allow me to use his lift, making the job so much easier.
Swapping In New Coilovers
With David and my other friend Chris helping, the installation was easy. However, we did make one easy-to-make, critical error that made us do the whole install twice! It was a stupid, rookie mistake, which shows the importance of not only reading the directions thoroughly but understanding them thoroughly, as well. We put the thrust washers in between the spring seat adjuster nut and the jam nut — it needs to go on top of the adjuster, against the spring (duh!). We didn’t notice our guffaw until we went to turn the adjusters and had to take all four shocks back apart to fix it; they are harder to take apart than put together, so don’t make the same mistake.
Here is how it should be done. You spin the spring seat jam nut all the way down with the little shoulder pointing up, then you put the spring seat on (shoulder up). Next is one spring seat thrust washer, then the thrust bearing, then another thrust washer. The spring goes on top of that, then the spring cap goes on. If you don’t run the whole assembly all the way to the bottom, you will have a tough time getting the cap under the spherical bearing. Even then, it took a little bit of work to get the cap on the DS301’s with the 650-pound front springs.
The most important part of the assembly (which is mentioned several times in the instructions) is to use Permatex anti-seize lubricant on virtually everything. This stuff is very messy, but extremely important seeing we were working with different metals — including aluminum and stainless steel. We used it liberally!
Once the shocks were assembled (properly) it was an easy swap with eight total bolts to change out. Just so we had a decent starting point, we measured the number of threads on the old coilovers, set the QA1’s in the same position, and put the car on the ground. The rear fenders measured the same height (21.5 inches), while the fronts were about an inch lower than the 24.5 inches it was before. So, back up in the air it went to twist the front springs up a few more threads.
One other error we made here — we should’ve also measured the shocks themselves before we raised the car back up to see if we were within the recommended ride height for the shock. Instead, we were measuring the fenders, which really didn’t matter as much, as far as ride quality was concerned. The front fender came out right at 24.5 inches, so we decided to take it for a drive with the shocks on full-soft.
Getting It Dialed In
As I pulled out of the driveway, I was careful to make sure we didn’t have any clearance issues anywhere by turning the wheels back and forth then proceeded down the street trying to hit every bump along the way. The first few were small and the suspension showed promise — it was already light years better than before, but as I hit some of the larger bumps, I found the front end too bouncy and the rear seemed kind of harsh, possibly bottoming out. This is when I remembered Bill saying the DS501s liked 14 to 14.5 inches at ride height, so I returned to the shop.
When we measured the shock lengths at the shop, they were about 13 inches, so we jacked it up and cranked in another two or three threads and set it back down. Surprisingly the fender height only went up about a 1/2 inch to 22 inches, but it brought the shock height up to about 14.25 inches. Before the next test drive, I set all four shocks up two clicks from full-soft and went for another spin.
It was a noticeable difference as I covered the same route, but still seemed a little bouncy to me, so I returned one last time and set the shocks at four clicks above full-soft. I grabbed up all my old parts, thanked David for the help, and set off toward home. On four clicks I couldn’t believe this was the same car. It was night-and-day difference and light-years away from what I drove into the shop. I still had some experimentation to go, but things were promising.
Over the next few weeks, I kept turning up the knobs until I got to nine clicks all the way around. Surprisingly, the front felt great at nine clicks. I figured the higher you went on the damping, the rougher the ride would get — especially running that heavy spring — but it needed to be up that high to keep the spring from bouncing. The rear felt pretty stiff at nine clicks and I was experiencing an almost see-saw motion where the rear seemed to be sending signals to the front. I decided to call Dave at QA1 to ask for some direction on what I should do to get these dialed in.
“Oftentimes, people install a set of adjustable shocks with them adjusted in the middle of the valving,” Dave began. “In many cases, this is substantially better than what was on the car previously, so, the user leaves the shocks set that way and carry on. Adjustable shocks have the potential to greatly improve the ride, over marginal improvements. Keep adjusting the shocks stiffer and stiffer until you’ve gone too far. It’s not until you’ve seen what both ends of the spectrum feel like you know what’s best for you.
“These shocks come with baseline starting points for valving, but every car is different. It’s common these days to see large 18-plus-inch wheels and thin wall tires. This drastically impacts how feedback through the road transfers into the cockpit of the car. It will often be harsher than if you had a large sidewall with a 15-inch wheel. As such, softening the compression valving while having a slightly firmer rebound will provide the control you need without the jarring effect from sharp impacts in the road.”
I took his advice and kept cranking them up just to see what it’s like. Let’s just say, I don’t recommend full-firm for street use, that’s for sure. I ended up backing down the front shocks to twelve clicks and went all the way back to four clicks for the rear. That is definitely the sweet spot for this car for daily usage. The car is so much more civil now. I can drive down any street and not have to pay attention to any little indention in the road. I still haven’t experimented above these settings because the car drives so well, but I do plan to autocross the car in the future, so I’m sure I will be playing around with the settings in due time.
In the end, here is the point of my story: you don’t have to settle for an ill-riding car. For anyone out there who has a car you have no idea about and are experiencing similar problems, give the folks at QA1 a call and tell them what you are experiencing and see if they can help. Chances are, unless you have a severe problem, they can get your restomod riding like you always hoped it would.
All in, it only cost me $1,019.60 to change out the suspension and completely change the manners of my car. That is not much more than you might pay for four OE-style replacement shocks — which most likely won’t fix your problem. And, those won’t be adjustable if you plan to do anything more than regular daily driving. I can’t wait to go have some fun with this thing — although maybe I shouldn’t — I’ve already gotten one speeding ticket while out “testing.”
For 1970, Ford’s intermediate lineup was all new. Up to and including the 1969 model year, Fairlane was the main model, with Torino a high-end trim level. In 1970, the Fairlane, a model that was introduced in the 1950s, was relegated to the entry-level-trim base models. With the introduction of the Maverick in the spring of 1970, the Falcon nameplate was being phased out of the Ford lineup, but not before it was applied to an even more stripped-down midsize model. Confused? You should be. It was one of 17 models in Ford’s midsized lineup for the year.
The Torino, though, stood out, especially the high-performing GT and Cobra versions. Even among that sea of Ford intermediates, Torino garnered enough attention that it was awarded the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for 1970.
Some 407,493 Ford intermediates (Torinos, Fairlanes, and Falcons) were built that year. Of those nearly half-million cars, just 7,675 Torino Cobras were made. This one is owned by longtime car buff John Chencharick. Originally from New Jersey, his family migrated to the Golden State in 1959. His first car was a 1959 Tri-power Pontiac Star Chief. It was followed by, of all things, a 1971 Toyota Corolla purchased new. After some discussion with the dealer, Chencharick became a sponsored driver for them and raced the now modified 1600 Corolla at Irwindale Raceway.
After owning the Mustang for 14 years, Chencharick felt it was time to let it go and retire from car shows. “A year later, I was missing the Ford shaker and the Cobra Jet. So I started a new hunt. This time, however, I wanted something with a little more legroom and offered a little more comfort.”
Chencharick called a few muscle car dealers and hit “pay dirt” with Mershon’s in Ohio. “The salesman there informed me that they were going to look at a Torino that I might be interested in. The next day I received a call from the dealer, and I had them send me photos.
“The car was very straight and in very good condition. It was equipped with a 429 Cobra Jet motor, C-6 transmission, shaker hood, rear slats, front spoiler, more room inside than my Mach 1, with nice yellow with black matting. The car stood out, but still had the rarity that would give me the ability to not see others like it at shows, or other car outings. I really liked that option. A deal was made, and the car was on its way to California.” This was 13 years ago, in 2005.
Once the Torino arrived, Chencharick set out to make it perfect. Through diligent research, he learned more about the car, which showed just 24,000 miles when he bought it. The car’s first owner lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, and at some point parked it in his barn. A few years later, it was learned that sap from the barn roof had leaked onto the car, from the top of the windshield to the cowl. The owner called his insurance company, and the agent was amazed at the condition of the Torino. He informed another agent, Chris Zimmer, who was a muscle car guy. The car was repainted where needed. Around 1991, Zimmer was able to purchase the car with approximately 12,000 miles.
Chencharick spoke with Zimmer, who said he sold the Torino to another local, Gary Smith, who owned a body and repair shop. Smith told Chencharick that he never did any additional painting to the car. He did, however, sell the Torino to a man from New York in 1998. He estimated the mileage at 19,000.
Chencharick explains how he took the Torino to the next level. “Finding a car this well preserved, the car cried out to be improved. I wanted to eliminate some rattle-can locations and restore the car to what it should be. It was so well maintained over the years that I wanted to preserve it further. Along the way I have made some incredible friends who have assisted me in upping the Torino game, making it a showstopper. This has been done with their expertise in mechanical work or spending the time teaching me.”
The Torino has its original powertrain. Upon internal engine inspection, the original pistons (marked CJ429) are in use, as are the stock rockers, pushrods, intake, Quadrajet carburetor, exhaust manifolds, and cylinder heads. The engine had not been bored, as it had very little wear. A custom Comp Cams camshaft was designed by engine builder Jim Van Gordon of Van Gordon Racing in Upland, California. The engine was rebuilt and blueprinted, and the new cam helped move air through the huge 429 heads. Power output is estimated at 420 hp at 5,400 rpm and 490 lb-ft of torque at 5,400 rpm, quite a bump from the 370hp/450 lb-ft ratings the Ram Air CJ got from the factory.
In addition to Jim Van Gordon, Chencharick wants to acknowledge Jeff Sneathen at SEMO Mustang in Gordonville, Missouri, for some of the hard-to-find parts; John Coute at Arrow Auto Air & Service Center in San Bernardino, California, for engine compartment detail; and Phil La Chappelle for technical concours detail information.
Over the years, the car has been displayed extensively. At the 2012 Palos Verdes Concours it scored 94 out of 100 points. It received various awards, including Best Muscle Car, Best Ford, and Best Original. It has been displayed twice, in 2015 and 2017, at the prestigious San Marino Motor Classic. It was displayed at the Fabulous Fords Forever 45th Anniversary of the Torino, and the 2018 Grand National Roadster Show, where it was one of 100 cars invited to its prestigious Muscle Car Gathering. It made a return trip to Fabulous Fords Forever for the 50th Anniversary of the Cobra Jet. Also this year it picked up a Best in Class trophy at the All-American Car Show with AACA judging.
“While at the San Marino Show in 2017 with the Torino, I had the opportunity to speak with Jay Leno,” Chencharick tells us. “He approached me and asked if the Torino was my car. We had very nice conversation. He stated that he liked the rare stuff, and the Torino was definitely in that category. He said that I should be congratulated for the job I did and thought the car was an excellent example. I thanked him for the kind words and felt like I had just won San Marino for the recognition he had given me. Pretty cool.”
When asked about his car’s best or most unique attribute, Chencharick says, “The thing I love the most about this car is the rarity of it. I have very rarely ever seen another, and it’s extremely rare to see one at such a high level. These cars just don’t get the recognition they deserve. Their lines, ride, and sleek look, along with style and power, are very much underappreciated.”
What’s on the agenda for the car? Chencharick wants to continue to improve it and one day, when time permits, take her to the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals to be displayed. That would be the ultimate celebration for this car’s travels.
We’ve seen this stunning example of Ford power many times over the years and feel that it deserves a spot at MCACN. Bob Ashton, are you listening?
At a Glance
1970 Torino Cobra SportsRoof
Owned by: John Chencharick
Restored by: Unrestored; detailing and additional parts by owner; SEMO Mustang, Gordonville, MO; Arrow Auto Air & Service Center, San Bernardino, CA; Phil LaChapelle; engine rebuilt by Van Gordon Racing, Upland, CA
Engine: 429ci/420hp Cobra Jet V-8
Transmission: C-6 3-speed automatic
Rearend: 3.00 gears with Traction-Lok
Interior: Black bucket seat with console
Wheels: 14-inch Magnum 500
Tires: G70-14 Kelsey reproduction Goodyear Polyglas
This wild Fairlane isn’t what you’d find down at the local bowling club. Anton’s Hot Rod Shop from Hiram, Ohio, are bringing straight fire to SEMA 2018 with what looks at first like your average street machine but actually hides a mind-bending amount of custom work. Riding on a custom chassis from Roadster Shop radically updating the handling of the old mid-size muscle car, the ’66 is powered by a 8.6-litre (526 cubic-inch) all-aluminium version of Ford’siconic “cammer” overhead cam big-block V8!
WORDS: ROBERT BARRY | PHOTOS RB/MERCURY ENERGY
To prove that electric vehicles are cool and can be an emotional as well as a rational choice, energy company Mercury created Evie the bright yellow fully-electrically powered 1957 Ford Fairlane convertible which has recently featured in a television advertising campaign.
Evie has become the most recognised member of the Mercury team, and even when parked outside the company’s offices in Newmarket, both staff and members of the public are immediately drawn to her presence, with many taking pictures and selfies on their smartphones.
NZ Autocar recently enjoyed a short cruise around Central Auckland in Evie, with her “minder” Trippy (vehicle wrangler Mike Tripp) behind the wheel explaining her finer details to us.
Nothing makes a statement like a bright yellow classic 1950s American convertible, and there are many smiles noted from other motorists and pedestrians as we make our way to Okahu Bay for a photo shoot.
Much like modern electric vehicles, Evie offers a very quiet driving experience, there’s some road noise from the tyres, and some wind noise around the windscreen when the electric roof is lowered, but she has plenty of oomph when needed for a swift getaway.
The creation of Evie was the result of a brainstorming process between Mercury and it’s agency FCB to prove that electric vehicles can be fun and exciting and that they provide the same dynamic experience as a car with a internal combustion engine, apart from the lack of sound.
Evie left the Kansas City, Missouri Ford factory in 1957 as a standard Fairlane Skyliner convertible painted black and equipped with a V8 petrol engine and automatic transmission.
Mercury purchased her from a private owner in the Bay of Plenty before shipping her to Dunedin for the powertrain transformation. Dunedin-based James Hardisty and the team from Control Focus were responsible for Evies conversion to electric drive using a Siemens bus motor and lithium iron phosphate batteries from China.
The 50 kwh battery pack contains 218 cells and weights 414kg, and Scott Drive in Hamilton was responsible for building the motor drive. The electric motor produces 170kW or 12,000 rpm so Evies three-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic gearbox was retained, rather than running a direct drive to the rear differential which would possibly break it.
Evie originally weighed in a 1.9 tonnes but the conversion to electric drive means she now comes in at a healthy 2.2 tonnes. At 5.5 metre long and 2.2 metres wide her dimensions are similar to a large Ute.
Because Evie was born as a convertible her chassis was strong enough for the conversion to electric drive but the rear suspension received an additional two leaves, while the front suspension remains unchanged.
As part of her transformation, Ron and Nick from Ron Wood Electrical in Point Chevalier did the automotive electrical work on Evie. Most of the upholstery in Evie is original and in very good condition but Walter from Mr Snippet in Grey Lynn tidied up the carpeting.
It was Peter Lineham and Warren Gibson at Chandler Panel beaters and Lineham Spray painting in Grey Lynn who resprayed Evie in the fetching shade of Mercury Yellow, which has been registered as an official colour according to Trippy.
Depending on weather and traffic conditions as well as Trippy’s driving style, Evie’s driving range will vary from 90km to more than 120km on a full charge, and like modern EVs the engine is regeneration capable, taking your foot off the accelerator will automatically do this. Evie has three recharging options.
Using a Chademo fast charger will refill the battery pack to 80 per cent in 60 minutes, a J1772 Type One charger will take seven hours to refill the battery pack to 100 per cent, and plugging in with a three-pin plug charger at home will take up to 20 hours to refill her to 100 per cent.
Mercury chief marketing officer Julia Jack says watching people react to Evie’s presence has been the most fun part of the journey.
The name Evie, a play on EV, was conceived by Mercury’s head of brand and marketing Ben Harvey-Lovell for the bright yellow convertible and Jack says it was a logical choice.
Before launching Evie officially to the general public, she took a road trip around the Mercury offices to meet the staff.
“The buzz created by the staff about Evie certainly exceeded our expectations, they really engaged with her and continue to do,” says Jack.
“We were blown away by the teams positive response.”
Evie made her first official outing to a Caffeine and Classics meeting in Auckland, followed by an appearance at the Beach Hop in Whangamata, which according to Jack saw a very positive response from the other participants and guests.
“It was a really good reaction from the Beach Hop crowd, the people there were very positive towards Evie and they acknowledged that electric is the engine of the future,” says Jack.
Jack says Mercury has a few more adventures lined up in Evies calendar. There will be some more television appearances to show people the benefits of electric vehicles and then there is a big summer calendar of events planned for her.
Evie will make appearances at the Big Boys Toys event in Auckland in November 16 to 18, followed by visits to various Ford dealership showrooms, and she will also take a South Island road trip during the 2018-2019 summer.
Sep 9, 2018
Chuck Lindsay – Age: 60 – Location: Bethlehem, N.C. – Make and model: 1967 Ford Fairlane Ranchero
When and how did you acquire the car?
My brother Tommy bought it sometime around 1970. It was driven daily until the engine locked up in 1973. It sat for several years until he installed another engine and drove it until the body had begun to rust to the point he had to park it sometime around 1983. It sat out in the weather and deteriorated for 10 years until it was moved into a garage where it sat until 2006. Tommy had been saving money to restore it for years and in ‘06 he decided it was time for the restoration to begin. It was in such bad shape the first restoration shop admitted it was more than they could handle so the truck was sent to Klassic Rides in Denver, N.C.
The restoration took 16 months to complete. It was completely disassembled and media blasted (a process akin to sand blasting) which exposed more rust. The quarter panels were cut out and replaced. The floor boards were rusted to the point you could see the ground through them, so they were replaced as well. The structure under the front fenders was replaced due to the amount of rust. All of the suspension and torque boxes had to be replaced and the original drum brakes were replaced with updated disc brakes. After all the body work was done, a tricoat paint job was applied to the exterior, the dash, and the engine compartment out of Ford Redfire Metallic color.
The bed area was sprayed with a semi-gloss liner and all of the chrome trim was buffed out to look like new and it got new bumpers front and rear. The interior was replaced with the original bench seat removed and bucket seats installed along with new headliner and carpet. You really have to see the before-and-after photos to really appreciate where this truck came from to where it is today.
Sadly my brother Tommy passed away in 2010 after being able to drive it for only a few years. He was a great guy. Our family’s go-to guy. I started taking it to shows on the request of his wife Judy, my sister-in-law. After she passed away, my nieces took possession of the truck and told me to build a garage to store it in and take it and show it. My brother always said it was built to drive and show, not to sit in a garage. I’ve honored that by showing it in numerous shows and have won several awards.
Tell us about your car (specs, restoration, etc.).
It is a 1967 Ford Ranchero, Fairlane 500 edition. The engine is a Ford 302 block with Skat crank and rods, Speed Pro pistons, Comp cams camshaft Ford Racing aluminum heads, Edelbrock aluminum intake manifold, Holley carburetor and Hooker long tube headers with 2.5 inch exhaust pipes and Flowmaster mufflers. The transmission is a Ford C4 with heavy duty components and a shift kit.
Do you have a fun or interesting story about the car?
I have a photo book that I display at shows detailing the restoration. People look at the book, look back at the truck and tell me they can’t believe it came from the rusted out mess to what it is today. It truly was an amazing transformation.
Why do you love the car?
Words cannot express what this truck means to our entire family. It was my brother’s dream to have it restored, and he saved money to do it not using any monies that would take anything away from his family. He truly loved his family and always put them first.
What is the most interesting feature of the car?
It’s rare. You very seldom see one. The paint is immaculate.
What do people ask you about the vehicle?
I’m often asked if I did the restoration to which I reply, “If I could do this, I wouldn’t be driving a truck for a living.” I get asked about the color quite often. It’s 2006 Ford Redfire Metallic.
What value do you place on the car?
Invaluable. No amount of money could buy it. It is so special because it was my brother’s car.
SEPTEMBER 17, 2018
As we walked toward the exhibition center at the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nationals in Pueblo, Colorado, we did a double-take. We thought, “Whoa, wait a minute. That Fairlane wagon is a two door. Ford didn’t make a two door station wagon that year.”
Sitting in the shade away from the car was Dave Gardner of Colorado Springs, a Ford ball cap atop his head – a dead giveaway.
We found out the 1963 Ford Fairlane station wagon was a year-long project built entirely by Dave in his home garage. Dave has always had a soft spot for wagons – just not four-door wagons. He thought a two-door Fairlane would be unique, but, Ford never produced any Fairlane two-door wagons from 1963 to 1965. Dave figured the only way he was going to get one was to build it himself.
Dave’s a Ford guy, having built several Mavericks, a 1965 Fairlane 2-door hardtop as well as a 1979 Bronco 4-door, a 1954 F-100 “supercab” on a 1978 F-150 4×4 chassis, and a very nice 1955 Ford Crown Victoria. And those are just a few highlights of his 30-plus years as a body tech.
Dave really enjoyed the body lines and loved the fins Ford designed for the Fairlane. Before the build was even started, he envisioned a two-door wagon with 1962 Fairlane side trim and he ran an ad on Craigslist seeking it. A guy called from California saying he had all of the trim and would let it go for $600. At least Dave didn’t have to piece it all together from many trips to the auto recycler!
After studying the car for a while, he didn’t want to simply weld the rear doors shut. “The welds always seem to ghost out in the final finish for some reason,” Dave recalled. “No matter how well they are welded up – inside and out – those openings always show.” That only left one solution: find a donor car – a two-door Fairlane sedan for the quarters and doors. A good example popped up in Casper, Wyoming, and he started cutting the minute he got it home. “I wanted it to be a “true” two-door wagon, thus I needed actual doors and quarters from a two-door sedan.” Dave mentioned.
Dave said that was the fun part of the build. He opened up the whole side of the wagon and grafted on the sedan’s quarters, including the posts. The wagon’s rear door had a stock vent window and Dave wanted that gone. “It just didn’t look correct with a vent window there,” he said. “Because the window was a different shape [the sedans quarter windows are curved], I had one made to fit the new opening. It fits the look of a wagon better.”
If you look closely at the dash, you’ll notice there are no A/C vents. That’s because the wagon does not have A/C – Dave likes to have the windows down to hear the pipes. Not only that, but there are only a few months in Colorado summers when A/C is needed.
In August, 2017 Dave got out his stainless 1962 Fairlane 500 trim he’d been saving and straightened and polished it all. Before he bolted it on the wagon, he added the Gold foil insert. The front bumper is from a 1964 Fairlane because it wraps all the way around the front, unlike the ’63. All the side glass is tinted and Dave added 1965 Fairlane emblems to the quarter panels. The car was finished in late April of 2018, just in time for the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nats in June. Even “purists” could be fooled by Dave’s build – it’s that good!
Is there another build in Dave’s future? Yep, he says it’ll be a 1960 Galaxie two-door sedan with an entire chassis sourced from a 1989 Crown Victoria.
August 24, 2018 – Featured, My Ride, Videos
Two brothers, one classic car and a powerful for reason for purchasing it.
Jason Marshall of Litchfield and Wyatt Marshall of Torrington acquired a 1967 Mercury Comet Caliente last October after a year of perusing the vintage car market. They’d considered getting a Chevrolet Camaro, a Pontiac GTO or a Ford Mustang, and even put a deposit on a Ford Fairlane, before finding the Comet in Massachusetts.
“Over the years, my brother and I have always liked classic cars. I’ve always wanted one, but never thought I could get one,” said Jason. At least not until he received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and his doctor ordered that he give up some side jobs that occupied his time.
“I had to give all them up to concentrate on myself and my health, but I told my wife, ‘This is the time. I think I’m going to look for something. I’ve always wanted a classic car and it will give me something to do to relax me.’ It’s like therapy. I get in there and I just totally relax and I have a great time,” he said.
Wyatt did the online searching. “I knew about the Cyclones and the Comets but I’d never heard of a Caliente,” he said. The Cyclone was the performance version of the Comet model. The Caliente, which is Spanish for “hot,” was a step up from the base version. “Buying it together, we both had to be on the same page. I basically bought it over the phone, sight unseen. The guy was getting ridiculous low offers on it.”
Nonetheless, Jason said, “We got a very, very good deal on it. I’ve had a couple of people come up to me and offer right off the bat four times what we paid for it. We got a great deal. The guy before us took very good care of it.”
He admitted that he “instantly fell in love with it” and he drives his therapy car frequently. “I try to get it out; take it for a run every weekend. I’ll take it to work on Fridays, unless it rains. We want to drive it as much as we can,” he said.
Wyatt Marshall thought the 1967 Mercury Comet Caliente would be perfect for his brother, Jason, when he first spotted it online. “It caught my eye. I loved the color. I wanted something that would suit his personality,” he said, explaining that the car was “a little bit modified but not too far.”
The Caliente doesn’t have its original motor, rather a 302 cubic inch power plant from a Mustang, and it has been restored. The exterior and interior colors are original. First sold in northern Mississippi, it later went to owners in Memphis, Tenn. and Massachusetts before coming to Connecticut.
“It was just meant to be. The undercarriage is in absolutely pristine condition. There’s never been any rust. There hardly any surface rust on it,” said Wyatt.
The car arrived, Jason said, “Just the way you’re looking at it. We’ve done a couple little things to it. Had to get a different, original steering wheel. A little bit of a tune-up. We put air shocks on the rear. But other than that it came to us as it is.”
When they bought it, the Caliente had an after-market Grant steering wheel. “It was a chore to find a steering wheel. It really made the interior and the rest of the car look cheesy,” Wyatt added, referring to the replacement steering wheel.
Mercury introduced the Comet model in 1960 as a compact car and it was initially based on the Ford Falcon. It grew to intermediate status in 1966 (based on the Ford Fairlane) before being downsized again in 1971 (and based on the Ford Maverick). The body style of the Marshall brothers Caliente was only used in 1966 and 1967.
“We have tons of people who come up to us every show, admire it, they don’t even know what it is. They’ve never seen one before, and that is another reason why we jumped on it,” said Jason.
Added Wyatt, “They’re rare. It’s just a nice, clean, straight car that has been well maintained over the years, and we’re going to drive the wheels off it. After we’re done with it, it’s going to be handed down to a niece or nephew. It’s going to stay in the family.”