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1967 Ford Fairlane - Patron Of The Arts
George Lange’s “Great White” ’67 Fairlane is the latest creation from influential hot rod craftsman Bobby Alloway
What do Leonardo Da Vinci, Ludwig Van Beethoven and hot rod builder Bobby Alloway have in common? They were—and are—artists with patrons.
If you were sketching cars or Van Halen logos in your notebook rather than paying attention in History class, we'll remind you that art patronage involved connoisseurs who supported the best artists of the day with continual commissions for new works.
Few in the automotive world argue against calling Alloway an artist. His distinctive style is instantly recognizable, his attention to detail is impeccable, and the demand for his creations keeps his shop humming—just like the masters of the Renaissance. In fact, the signature elements of an Alloway creation, including a ground-hugging stance with an exaggerated wheel-and-tire combination—usually 17-inch wheels in front and 20s in the rear—and mile-deep black paint with an essentially factory-appearing body, are as recognizable to the hot rod cognoscenti as the brush strokes of a genuine Rembrandt are to the Art History major who took your order at Starbuck's this morning.
As patrons go, Alloway's largest is George Lange. The Missouri-based enthusiast is a true automotive renaissance man, with a large and diverse collection of all things mechanical, including everything from elemental, traditional-style hot rods to European supercars. But it was his first encounter with an Alloway-built street rod nearly 15 years ago that established a unique relationship, resulting in some of the most influential hot rods of the past decade.
"The moment I first saw an Alloway car at a Goodguys event in Indianapolis, I knew I had to meet the builder," says Lange. "The car represented everything I wanted in a hot rod—a blend of classic styling with contemporary cues. I sought out Bobby and we hit it off right away and the rest is history."
Lange has had eleven cars built by Alloway over the years, with this white, Boss-429-powered '67 Fairlane, dubbed Great White, the latest. And yes, going with white instead of Alloway's signature black was a departure almost as radical as suggesting the car retain a set of 14-inch steel wheels.
"Not every car Bobby has done has been black—he did a silver Thunderbird for my wife—but white was a real stretch for him and he almost changed it to black when it was rolling into the paint booth," says Lange. "The guys in his shop mounted a mini-mutiny over that, insisting the car should indeed be white, as intended. Bobby relented and admits white was the right way to go for the car."
White was definitely Lange's idea, supported by the original renderings drawn up by Alloway's longtime designer, Eric Brockmeyer.
"I always liked the look of the original Fairlane GTA in white, with a red rocker stripe, and thought this car would look the best like that, especially with Bobby's penchant for retaining the basic appearance of the original body," says Lange. "That's one of the traits of his cars that I really appreciate. He doesn't really alter the basic design of the body itself and retains the trim and chrome that gave it character when it was new. He bolsters it with that trademark stance and wheel/tire combination, along with other attributes that make it more contemporary."
Like most of their collaborations, the Fairlane project started with a simple conversation about ideas, which lead to a visit to a Tennessee collector (the collection of Fords was featured on an episode of American Pickers), where Lange and Alloway had purchased the Thunderbird project and other cars. They made a deal for the Fairlane, officially starting the project's build clock.
That unmistakable stance is what makes his cars so recognizable, and while functionality is undeniable important to Bobby Alloway, function definitely follows form, meaning the car is essentially built around the stance. That involves cutting out virtually every scrap sheetmetal in the floor and altering the frame accordingly. So, at a glance, the mostly unaltered exterior appears as the original designers intended, the entire chassis has been completely re-engineered and rebuilt. Everything from the inner fenders and firewall to the floor pans has been re-made with smooth, seemingly seamless sheetmetal.
For the record, the Fairlane rolls on custom Billet Specialties wheels (like just about every Alloway car), measuring 17x7 inches in the front and 20x10 inches in the rear.
A "wow" engine is another Alloway signature trait. It's a feature that many builders "phone in" with a simple, chrome-capped crate engine, but not Bobby Alloway, who understands that a lavishly re-engineered design statement requires an equally compelling source of motivation. For the Fairlane, it takes the form of a 500-plus-cubic-inch big-block engine capped with authentic Boss 429 NASCAR heads and a NASCAR intake manifold drawing through a pair of four-barrel carburetors.
Alloway turned to his longtime engine builder, Mylon Keasler, to assemble the unique powerplant. Keasler started with a Ford Racing block, filled with the appropriate collection of forged rotating parts that included a stroker crankshaft that took the engine to 503 cubic inches. The cylinder heads, while genuine NASCAR parts, were also genuinely in need of serious rehab.
"Oh, they definitely needed some work," recalls Keasler. "I think there are a few pounds of weld in them, but we got them fixed up and they work well, especially with the greater displacement of the engine."
Lange concurs, adding that the engine delivers on the performance promise of the original Boss '9 engine—it puts out about 600 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque.
"It's not a secret that the original Boss 429 street engines just didn't perform very well," he says. "They were restricted and compromised, but Mylon's engine really breathes well. All big-block Fords are typically smooth runners and this one is no exception, but with the exotic Boss 429 heads, the driveability and performance are excellent. The power really comes on strong after 3,000 rpm, with lots of torque. Besides all of that, it's simply a beautiful engine to look at."
That Lange has tested the power band on the car may come as a surprise to those who assume Alloway's rolling sculptures don't really spend anytime rolling.
"It goes back to that functionality thing," he says. "Bobby's aesthetic vision may be the overriding philosophy behind a vehicle, but he goes to great lengths to make his cars usable. I have no qualms about hopping in and driving a couple of hundred miles to an event in any of the cars he's built. The five-speed overdrive transmission helps, too, on the highway." A coilover front suspension with rack-and-pinion steering also aids in this respect, as do the four-wheel disc brakes.
The smooth tinwork under the Fairlane's hood frames the artistic expression of the Boss-headed engine, with smooth, white panels providing a subtle yet dramatic accent to the intricate contours of the heads, induction system and complementing components. Even the brake booster, ignition coil and wiper motor are hidden from view.
Similarly, the Fairlane's cabin makes a devastating statement in the effectiveness of simplicity and attention to detail. It starts with the '67 Mustang dashboard and steering column, which retain their classic, factory appearance, but were painstakingly grafted to the wider Fairlane interior by adding approximately 2.5 inches to both ends of the dashboard. The contours and proportions of the extended dash are spot-on, and are complemented by modified Mustang door panels, a Mustang-based center console and a pair of front seats from a '64 Thunderbird.
In classic Alloway style, the interior has a factory appearance, with not so much as a modern audio system head unit poking out to disrupt the contemporized yet classic vibe. It's clean and straightforward, and the bright red color is period perfect, too, providing the perfect contrast to the white exterior.
"What I've always loved about Bobby's style is how he respects classic factory design elements," says Lange. "He'll make over a car completely and in a way that will make you look two or three times until you finally notice what he did, but it's still instantly recognizable as a Mustang or Thunderbird or, in this case, a Fairlane. Even though the Mustang dash and door panels, and more, are obviously custom additions, you still get the immediate feeling that it's a classic Ford inside."
With the distinctive cues that permeate each Alloway car, it would be logical to assume this hot rod artist insists on complete creative control, rebuffing any and all external input that would otherwise compromise his singular vision. That's true to a large degree, but so is the relationship he forms with the customer. It's a personal thing. Heck, the shop's website doesn't even have a phone number; you can send an email and leave your contact info. In other words, don't call him. He'll call you.
"I've never got in the way of what Bobby is doing with a car," says Lange. "It's not that I don't have input—I certainly do—but the reason I wanted him to start building cars for me is because I like his vision. He knows me well enough by now to understand what I want, which helps."
Still, there was the issue with painting the Fairlane white.
"I think I called for that partially to irritate him," jokes Lange. "I have a lot of emotion in these cars and Bobby understands that. But then again, so does he."
So, does Lange see himself as a patron of the automotive arts? Short answer: Yes.
"I never thought about it like that before, but it's a good analogy," he says. "The Fairlane (and all of Bobby Alloway's cars for that matter) is a driveable work of art." Spoken like a true Renaissance man.
George Lange's '67 Fairlane
Ford "385 Series"-based big-block with Boss 429 heads
Ford Racing 460 iron cylinder block
4.380-inch bore (0.20-inch over)
503 cubic inches
Crower forged crankshaft
Carillo forged H-beam connecting rods
CP forged aluminum flat-top pistons
10:1 compression ratio
Ford Boss 429 NASCAR cylinder heads, stock ports and stock valve sizes (2.400-inch intake/1.900-inch exhaust)
Crower hydraulic roller camshaft; 272/278 deg. duration and 0.600/0.610-in. lift, 110-deg. lobe separation angle
Original NASCAR Boss 429 valvetrain
Modified NASCAR Boss 429 intake manifold with fabricated crossover
Two Edelbrock 500-cfm four-barrel carburetors
600 hp at 6,000 rpm, 550 lb-ft 5,000 rpm
Tremec TKO-600 five-speed manual
Spec Stage 2 clutch
Strange limited-slip differential
Strange 31-spline axles
Custom headers by Barillaro Speed Emporium, 13⁄4-inch primary tubes with 3-inch collectors
3-inch stainless custom exhaust system
Front: Art Morrison-built coilover-spring
Rear: Art Morrison-built four-link with coilover-spring
Art Morrison-supplied rack-and-pinion
Stock steering column
Front: Wilwood disc, 13-inch rotors with six-piston calipers
Rear: Wilwood disc, 12-inch rotors with four-piston calipers
Front: Billet Specialties custom knock-off, 17x7
Rear: Billet Specialties custom knock-off, 20x10
Front: BFGoodrich P225/50R17
Rear: BFGoodrich P285/60R20
'67 Mustang dashboard widened 5 inches, Mustang center console, Mustang door panels, '64 Thunderbird seats, Classic Instruments custom gauges, red leather upholstery and trim
Mostly stock with PPG Cloud White paint, black hood, and red lower rocker stripes; stock-type trim