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Ford Fairlane (Americas)

Ford Fairlane
1962 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1955–1970
Assembly Claycomo, Missouri, United States
Milpitas, California United States[1]
Body and chassis
Class Full-size (1955–1961), Mid-size (1962–1970)
Body style two-door coupe
two-door convertible
two-door sedan
four-door sedan
two-door station wagon (1964 only)[2]
four-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Successor Ford Torino

The Ford Fairlane was an automobile model sold between 1955 and 1970 by the Ford Motor Company in North America. The name was taken from Henry Ford's estate, Fair Lane, near Dearborn, Michigan.

Over time, the name referred to a number of different cars in different classes; the Fairlane was initially a full-size car, but became a mid-size car from the 1962 model year. The mid-sized model spawned the Australian-built Fairlane in 1967, although it was considered a large car there.


  • First generation (1955–1956) 1
  • Second generation (1957–1959) 2
  • Third generation (1960–1961) 3
  • Fourth generation (1962–1965) 4
    • Thunderbolt 4.1
  • Fifth generation (1966–1967) 5
  • Sixth generation (1968–1969) 6
  • Seventh generation (1970) 7
  • Ford Fairlane in Argentina 8
  • 2005 concept 9
    • Production model 9.1
  • See also 10
  • References 11

First generation (1955–1956)

1956 Ford Fairlane Victoria

For 1955, the Fairlane name replaced the Crestline as Ford's premier full-size offering. Six different body styles were offered, including the Crown Victoria Skyliner with a tinted, transparent plastic roof, the regular Crown Victoria coupe with lots of stainless steel trim, a convertible Sunliner, the Victoria coupe, and traditional sedans. All featured the trademark stainless-steel "Fairlane stripe" on the side. Power options were a 223 CID (3.7 L) straight-6 engine and a 272 CID (4.5 L) V8. The 292 Y-Block was offered as an option and was called the Thunderbird V-8.

Few changes were made for 1956; a four-door Victoria hardtop and two new, more powerful V8 options, of 292 CID (4.8 L) and 312 CID (5.1 L), the latter available up to 225 brake horsepower (168 kW), were introduced. The Lifeguard safety package was introduced.

Second generation (1957–1959)

1957 Ford Fairlane 500

For 1957, a new style gave a longer, wider, lower and sleeker look with low tailfins. A new top trim level was reversed, the Fairlane 500. For the first time, the lower-level Custom line had a shorter wheelbase than the Fairlane. Engines were largely the same as the year before. The big news for 1957 was the introduction of the Fairlane 500 Skyliner power retractable hardtop, whose solid top hinged and folded down into the trunk space at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, it attracted more attention than sales; the option was expensive, somewhat unreliable, and took up almost all the trunk space when retracted. Even so, it required the roof to be made shorter than the other Fairlanes, and the trunk to be larger. The reason for this was simply that this car was designed, from the ground up, as a Lincoln Continental. Projected losses resulted in a last minute marketing decision to restyle the vehicle, from the bottom of the windows down, as a member of the Fairlane family.

Another facelift for 1958 saw fashionable quad headlights, a grille that matched the 1958 Thunderbird, and other styling changes. New big-block FE V8s of 332 and 352 CID (5.4 L and5.8 L) replaced the previous largest V8s, and a better three-speed automatic transmission was also available.

A new top-level full-size model was introduced at mid-year 1959, the Ford Galaxie.

A Fairlane is featured in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball, and also briefly in the 2002 Bond film Die Another Day.

Third generation (1960–1961)

1960 Ford Fairlane 500 four-door sedan

Full-size Fairlane and Fairlane 500 models were redesigned for 1960 and again for the 1961 model year. The Galaxie series continued as the top-of-the-line full-size Ford. Fairlane 500s were mid-level in the lineup and were equivalent to the Chevrolet Bel Air. Fairlanes were primarily sold as base level trim models for fleet use (taxi, police).

The big-block 390 CID V8 was available in 1961 as the top-horsepower option as the "horsepower wars" in Detroit continued.[3][4]

Fourth generation (1962–1965)

Fourth generation
Production 1962–1965
Assembly Lorain, Ohio
Milpitas, California
Seaview, Wellington, New Zealand[5]
Body and chassis
Body style two-door hardtop
two-door sedan
four-door sedan
two-door station wagon (1964 only)[2]
4-door station wagon
Related Mercury Meteor
Engine 2.8L I6
3.6 L V8
4.2 L V8
Transmission two-speed automatic
three-speed automatic
three-speed manual
four-speed manual
Wheelbase 2,934 mm (115.5 in)
Length 5,004 mm (197.0 in)[6]

The Fairlane name was moved to Ford's new intermediate, introduced for the 1962 model year, to bridge the gap between the compact Ford Falcon and the full-sized Galaxie, making it a competitor for GM's A-body "senior compacts". With an overall length of 197 in (5004 mm) and a wheelbase of 115.5 in (2934 mm), it was 16 in (406 mm) longer than the Falcon and 12.3 in (312 mm) shorter than the Galaxie. Wheel track varied from 53.5 in (1355mm) to 56 in (1422mm) depending on model and spec.

Like the Falcon, the Fairlane had a unibody frame, but the body incorporated an unusual feature Ford dubbed 'torque boxes', four boxed structures in the lower body structure designed to absorb road shock by moving slightly in the vertical plane. Suspension was a conventional short-long arm independent arrangement in front, with Hotchkiss drive in the rear. The Fairlane was initially offered only in two-door or four-door sedan body styles.

The Fairlane's standard engine was the 170 CID (2.8 L) six, but as an option, it introduced Ford's new, lightweight Windsor V8, initially with a displacement of 221 CID (3.6 L) and 145 hp (108 kW); a 260 CID (4.2 L) "Challenger" version was added at mid-year, with an advertised 164 hp (122 kW). The Sports Coupe option débuted mid-year and featured bucket seats and a mini console. The trim level supplemented the Fairlane and Fairlane 500 trim levels (the 500 model had more decorative trim, such as a wider chrome stripe down the side and three bullets on the rear quarter panels). The Challenger 289 CID engine was introduced in mid-1963, with solid lifters and other performance pieces helping the engine produce an advertised 271 hp (202 kW); however, it was equipped with single exhaust like the less powerful engines. This engine was coded "K" in the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Exterior identification was by fender-mounted "V" badges that read "289 High Performance". That same year, station wagons arrived, called the Ranch Wagon and Ranch Custom Wagon. All 1962 Fairlanes had "B" posts despite the popularity of the pillarless hardtop and convertible styles in that era.

Ford saw the problem and introduced two pillarless hardtop coupes for 1963, in Fairlane 500 and Sports Coupe trim. For 1963 and later Sports Coupe models, the center console, which had come from the Falcon parts bin for 1962, was changed to be similar to that of the Galaxie. Front end styling for the 1963 models mimicked the big Galaxie models, but the rear end retained the small tailfins and "pieplate" tail lamp styling cues. The Squire wagon (a fake woodie) was available for 1963 only, including one model with front bucket seats. The "Swing-Away" steering wheel became an option in 1964.[7]

The 1964 and 1965 Fairlane ranges consisted of similar body styles: base Fairlane and Fairlane 500 two-door coupes and four-door sedans, and Fairlane 500 and Sports Coupe two-door hardtops. The Fairlane Squire wagon was dropped, but the standard station wagon was continued. The 221 V8 was dropped after 1963, leaving the six as the base engine and the 260 as the base V8. The "K-code" 271-horsepower 289 V8 continued into 1964, gaining dual exhausts, while a 195 horsepower (145 kW) version of the 289 with a two-barrell carburetor and hydraulic lifters was introduced. The two-speed Fordomatic continued as the automatic transmission choice for the 260 in 1964, while 289 V8s got the three-speed Cruise-O-Matic transmission option. All 1965 models featured 14-inch (360 mm) wheels as standard, in place of the earlier 13-inch (330 mm) wheels, and Fordomatic was finally phased out, leaving the Cruise-O-Matic as the only automatic available for the Fairlane. The 260 was also dropped after 1964, leaving the two-barrel 289 as the base V8. Styling-wise, in 1964, a new grille and headlight bezels were introduced, the tail fins were dropped, some chrome decorating on the side was changed, and the shape of the trunk lid changed. Styling features for 1965 included body-color headlight bezels for the deluxe models and rectangular taillight lenses, a return to the 1962-1963 trunk lid, along with less chrome on the body and a small standup hood ornament.


Modified, street-driven 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt factory experimental drag car

As the muscle car market took shape, Ford introduced a Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt for drag racing for 1964, heavily modified to incorporate Ford's 427 CID (7.0 L) V8 race engine with two four-barrel carburetors on a high-riser manifold, ram-air through the openings left by deleting the inboard headlights, equal-length headers, trunk-mounted battery, fiberglass hood, doors, fenders and front bumper, acrylic glass windows, and other lightweight options, including deleted rear-door window winders, carpeting, radio, sealant, sun visors, armrests, jack, lug wrench, heater, soundproofing, and passenger-side windshield wiper. The cars wore Fairlane 500 trim, and were only offered with the two-door sedan body. This special model, of which 111 to 127 total were made (sources disagree), delivered 657 hp (490 kW) at 7,500 rpm [8] and was known as the Thunderbolt.

Racing in NHRA Super Stock class on 7-inch (180 mm)-wide tires, the Thunderbolt was based on the midlevel Fairlane 500 two-door pillared sedan, and in 1964 set elapsed time and top speed records at 11.6 seconds and 124 mph (200 km/h), .[9] took the Super Stock title, and won the Manufacturer's Cup; it is probably the quickest and fastest production drag racer ever produced. The car as delivered was in fact slightly too light to meet NHRA's 3200-lb (1451-kg) minimum weight unless it was raced with a full tank of gasoline, which would bring it to 3203 lb (1453 kg). NHRA rules at the time required a metal front bumper, so the cars began to be supplied with an aluminum bumper and previous purchasers were supplied with one.

Thunderbolt production was ended due to NHRA rule changes for Super Stock competition, requiring that 500 vehicles be built in order to be entered in that Class. Ford had been losing $1500 to $2000 on each Thunderbolt sold at the sticker price of $3900. The first 11 Thunderbolts were painted maroon (known as Vintage Burgundy in Ford literature), the rest white; 99 had manual transmissions. Many are still raced. About 50 similar Mercury Cyclones were also produced by Ford in 1964, destined to be modified to represent Ford in A/FX competition, which they dominated, as well. These vehicles varied greatly in wheel track due to customer options for varing suspension and wheel/tyre combinations.Front tracks from 54in to 56in and rear tracks from 53.5in to 55.5in were common .

Fifth generation (1966–1967)

Fifth generation
Production 1966–1967
Assembly Lorain, OH
Milpitas, CA
Atlanta, GA
Body and chassis
Body style two-door coupe
two-door convertible
two-door sedan
four-door sedan
four-door station wagon
Related Ford Ranchero
Mercury Comet

200 cu in (3.3 L) I6
390 cu in (6.4 L) V8
289 cu in (4.7 L)V8

302 cu in (4.9 L)V8

427 cu in (7.0 L)V8
Transmission 3 speed manual, 4 speed manual, 3 speed "Cruise-O-Matic", optional overdrive
Wheelbase 2,946.4 mm (116 in)
Length 5,003.8 mm (197 in)width = 74.7 in
Curb weight 1,246–1,584 kg (2,747–3,493 lb) (six cylinder coupe - GT Coupe)

The Fairlane was revised in 1966.[10] The appearance was changed to match the Full-size Ford, which had been restyled in the 1965 model year. The front end featured vertically stacked dual headlights. The XL, GT and GTA packages were introduced, as well as a convertible to join the existing range of sedans, hardtops and station wagons. The "K-code" 289 CID engine was dropped this year. The GT featured a 390 CID FE V8 as standard, while the GTA also included the newly introduced the SportShift Cruise-o-Matic automatic transmission. The GT/GTA 390 CID engine developed 335 bhp (250 kW) with higher compression, and had a four-barrel carburetor. Mid year, Ford produced 57 special Fairlane 500 two-door hardtops with "R-code" 427 CID V8s rated at 425 bhp (317 kW) and equipped with Ford's "Top-Loader" four-speed manual transmission. Built to qualify the engine/transmission combination for NHRA and IHRA Super Stock racing, they were white and had fiberglass hoods with a forward-facing hood scoop which ended at the edge of the hood. The Fairlane Squire wagon was reintroduced for 1966.

Minor trim changes were introduced for 1967 as the Fairlane was mildly facelifted. The 289 CID small-block became the base V8, with a 200 CID six standard, with the 390 CID optional (with either two- or four-barrel carburetor, at 275 and 320 bhp (240 kW), respectively). The 427s were still available, either with a single four-barrel carburetor or dual quad carbs, developing 410 (W-code) and 425 bhp (R-code), 427s were available on XL models but very few were built. The notable addition for the 1967 model year was a Ranchero pickup as part of the Fairlane range (from 1960 to 1965, the Ranchero was based on the Falcon, while in 1966 it used the Fairlane platform but Falcon styling). 1967 Fairlanes also included a number of Federal government-mandated safety features, including a new energy-absorbing steering column with a large padded steering wheel hub, soft interior trim, four-way hazard flashers, a dual-chamber braking system, and shoulder belt anchors. The convertible had a tempered safety glass rear window.[11]

The Falcon Ranchero and Falcon station wagon were, between 1966 and 1970, identical under the skin to the Fairlane versions of the same model. Only sheetmetal and trim differed.

Two different two-door coupe models were offered. The lower end Fairlane Club Coupe had pillars around the rear windows, while the higher trim level was a pillarless two-door hardtop, similar to the convertible.

Sixth generation (1968–1969)

Sixth generation
Production 1968–1969 (North America)
1969–1981 (Argentina)
Assembly Lorain, Ohio
Milpitas, California
General Pacheco, Argentina
Body and chassis
Body style two-door coupe
two-door convertible
two-door sedan
four-door sedan
four-door station wagon
Related Ford Ranchero
Mercury Comet
Engine 302 cu in (5.0 L) V8
390 cu in (6.4 L) V8
428 cu in (7.0 L) V8
Wheelbase 116.0 in (2,946 mm)

A redesign took place in 1968. The wheelbase remained 116 in (2,946 mm), but it grew in other dimensions. A fastback Sportsroof model was introduced in the Fairlane 500 series, as well as a more luxurious Torino model at the top of the intermediate range, contributing 172,083 of the Fairlane's 371,787 units sold that year.[12] The Ranch Wagon model name was deleted; Fairlane wagons had either the base or the 500 trim. Base hardtop sales more than doubled, to 44,683 units.[13] In the beginning of 1968, the Fairlane was sold with the two-barrel 289 CID V8, until Ford decided to replace the 289 with the 302 CID.[14] The GTs were part of the Torino range, with a 302 cu in (5.0 L) V8 standard, with optional engines being the 390 cubic inches (6.4 l) V8 in two- and four-barrel versions. The 390 four-barrel was supplanted mid-year as the top performance engine by the 428 cu in (7.0 l) Cobra Jet, developing 335 bhp (250 kW). There was also a 428 cubic inches (7.0 l) Super Cobra Jet. The Ranchero had a GT model, in addition to standard and 500 versions.

The Cobra was introduced in 1969 as a competitor for Plymouth's Road Runner. Basic models featured the 302 CID V8 and three-speed manual transmission as standard. Options included the 390 CID and two 428 CID V8s. The Cobras, meanwhile, had a standard 428 CID V8 with 335 bhp (250 kW), and options included bucket seats, hood scoop, clock, tachometer, power disc brakes and 4.30:1 rear axle gearing. "Regular" Fairlanes and Rancheros continued, all with bucket-seat options.

An even more powerful version, the Torino Talladega, was created to compete on the NASCAR Grand National speedways. Only 754 were built. To compete with the new Dodge Charger 500, the Sportsroof-based Ford Torino Talladega got a sloped nose and flush grille. The 428 CID V8 was standard, but it was mated to a C-6 Cruise-o-Matic automatic transmission.

Talladegas at Talladega in 2009

Seventh generation (1970)

Seventh generation
Production 1970
Assembly Lorain, Ohio
Milpitas, California
Body and chassis
Body style two-door coupe
two-door convertible
two-door sedan
four-door sedan
four-door station wagon
Related Mercury Montego
Ford Ranchero
Engine 250 cu in (4.1 L) I6
302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8
351 cu in (5.8 L) Windsor V8
351 cu in (5.8 L) Cleveland V8
429 cu in (7.0 L) 385 Series V8
Wheelbase 117 in (2,972 mm)

Ford's intermediates grew again in 1970, now with a 117 in (2,972 mm) wheelbase. At the start of the model year, only the Fairlane 500 remained as the base trim model in what was now effectively the Torino series.

The straight six-cylinder was the economy power, while largest engine was now a 429 cu in (7.0 l) with four-barrel carburetor and 360 bhp (270 kW), on the Torino Cobra. Different heads were optional and gave the Cobra 370 bhp (280 kW) and higher compression. Other options included the Cobra Jet Ram Air 429, though Ford quoted the same power output, and the Drag Pack rated at 375 bhp (280 kW). However, the 1970s were slower than the 1969s, and race teams were forced to run the older models.

The 1970½ Ford Falcon two-door sedan: The 1970½ Falcon was a low-priced version of the 1970 Fairlane 500

The Falcon name was transferred from Ford's now discontinued, in the US, compact to a basic, even lower trim version of the intermediate platform as a "1970½" model on January 1, 1970. This series included a two-door sedan which was not available in the higher trim lines. For 1971, the Falcon and Fairlane 500 names were dropped, as all of the intermediate models took the Torino name. The Falcon and Fairlane names continued to be used in Australia through to the twenty-first century.

Ford Fairlane in Argentina

The Argentine Ford Fairlane

The four-door sedan of the 1968 body style was built in Argentina from 1969 to 1981 under the Fairlane name with three equipment packages: Standard, 500 and LTD. The car was similar to the American model except the engines. There were two options: a 221 CID 6-cylinder with 132 hp (98 kW), and the old 292 CID "Y-Block" V8 which had been last used in the 1964 F-Series truck; it was rated at 185 hp (138 kW). In 1978, the LTD "Elite" option was introduced as the most luxurious made in Argentina. By the end of production in 1981, almost 30,000 Fairlanes had been made.[15]

2005 concept

The Ford Fairlane concept car at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show

At the 2005 Auto Show circuit, Ford revealed a new concept car with the Fairlane nameplate.[16] The "people-mover" Fairlane crossover utility vehicle concept featured three-row seating for six passengers, and previewed the chromed three-bar horizontal grill design, which currently appears on the 2006 Ford Fusion sedan and 2007 Ford Edge crossover utility vehicle."[17][18]

Production model

See Ford Flex

A production version of the Fairlane concept, now called the Ford Flex, debuted at the 2007 New York Auto Show, and entered production for the 2009 model year in summer 2008. Unlike the concept, the production model comes with seven seats. It is built on the Ford D3 platform, which is also used by the Ford Taurus, and Mercury Sable. It is intended to replace the people-mover capability of the Ford Freestar minivan.[19][20]

See also


  1. ^ "Facilities | Ford Motor Company Newsroom". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  2. ^ a b John Gunnell, Standard Catalogue of American Cars 1946-1975, Revised 4th Edition, 2002, page 414
  3. ^ Ford 1960 Brochure "1960 Fords". Ford Motor Company
  4. ^ Ford 1961 Brochure "1961 Fords". Ford Motor Company
  5. ^ Webster, Mark (2002), Assembly: New Zealand Car Production 1921-98, Birkenhead, Auckland, New Zealand: Reed, p. 80f,  
  6. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1962_Ford/1962_Ford_Full_Size_Brochure". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  7. ^ "Directory Index: Ford/1964_Ford/1964_Ford_Brochure_1". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  8. ^  
  9. ^ "1964 Ford Fairlane 500 Thunderbolt | Hemmings Motor News". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  10. ^ John Gunnell (1 April 2002). Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975. Krause Publications.  
  11. ^
  12. ^ Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. American Cars 1960-1972 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, 2004), p.599.
  13. ^ Flory, p.599.
  14. ^ "Fairlane Registry - - 1968 VIN Codes". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "2005 Chicago Auto Show: Ford Fairlane Photo Gallery." Motor Trend, 2005.
  17. ^ Nevin, Brad. "Ford Fairlane Breaks New Ground as a People Mover." Ford Communications Network, 9 December 2005.
  18. ^ "Ford Fairlane Concept." Automobile Magazine, 2005.
  19. ^ "Ford OKs Fairlane, Keeps Town Car." Ward's AutoWorld, 1 October 2006.
  20. ^ "Ford Develops People Movers to Replace Minivans." Car and Driver.
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