Spotlight: 1966 Ford Fairlane 427 Prototype
Starliner… Thunderbolt… Galaxie… Sunliner… Crown Victoria… 500 – all of these revered Ford model nameplates share a common ancestor, the Ford Fairlane which was introduced in 1955 as a full-size model. The rapid restyling cycles of that period would see the Fairlane shrink and grow through the years.
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As a mid-sized car in 1964, Ford dropped a modified 427 cid engine under the hood and, along with weight saving steps like fiberglass fenders, Plexiglas windows and light weight bucket seats, the company went drag racing with a 3200 pound package called the Thunderbolt.
In 1965, Ford moved the Fairlane back into the large car segment and introduced new performance packages the following year. The GT series featured a 390 cubic-inch V8 as standard equipment, adding suspension modifications, disc brakes, fiberglass lift-off hood, paint and body striping, unique badges and a special steering wheel. Most importantly, though, the Fairlane had been redesigned to house big block engines.
Performance marketing at Ford was in high gear. Since the Falcon was being shown well in economy events and the Mustang was sweeping through production sports car competition, it was decided to campaign the Fairlane (and Mercury Comet) set up with a side oiler version of the 427 V8 engine.
NHRA has specifically set up the B and C/Super Stock Classes for this Fairlane, as well as 426 HEMI Plymouths and Dodges. Chrysler drove the competition in these classes with the Sox & Martin and Dick Landy teams. Ford pushed Holman and Moody to prep four cars (two 4-bbl automatics, plus two 8-bbl standard transmission cars) in time for the NHRA Spring Nationals.
Ed Terry was chosen to drive one of the prototype 1966 Fairlanes in B/SS class. Serial number 6H43Z-105168, the car shown here, was campaigned by Terry, who enjoyed receive full parts support, plus travel expenses to major events and the car once the season concluded. Terry won the U.S. Nationals in this car, but was disqualified in post-race inspection. Someone at Ford had not registered the latest go-fast parts for the car with NHRA.
In standard trim, the 427 Fairlane could turn the quarter-mile in less than 13 seconds and reach 60 mph in six seconds flat. Race prepared versions consistently ran low 11 ETs.
Terry continued to race successfully with this car and, in 1969, was picked as one-half of the West Coast Ford Drag Racing team. A second prototype car went to Bill Ireland, a successful northwest racer, who later converted it to a 1967 model by changing a number of exterior parts.
This particular car will be presented for auction at the upcoming Mecum event in Kissimmee, FL, January 26-30, 2011. With its well established pedigree and extensive documentation, it will be interesting to see what level of bidder interest it can generate. Previous 427 Fairlane sales at auction have mostly been uninspiring, but then, none were piloted by Terry – arguably, Ford’s most successful drag racer on the West Coast. An ultra-rare 1967 R-Code Fairlane 500 did sell in 2008 for $106,000.