Rob Reaser
May 1, 2002

When you want something badly, you usually find a way to get it. Sometimes, though, the "getting" might take awhile. Robert Stoudt of Reading, Pennsylvania, can surely extol the virtues of patience. Since he was a mere lad of 7, Robert has had a peculiarly strong bent toward Ford muscle. Now, 30 years later, Robert enjoys a stable full of Blue Oval musclecars--the shining star of which is this '66 Fairlane GTA convertible.

Robert was bitten by the Blue Oval bug early in life when his father purchased a '64 Galaxie XL with a 390 big-block. It's easy, therefore, to understand Robert's excitement when, in 1986, he discovered a similarly powered Fairlane drop-top sitting unrestored beside Jack Detweiler's paint booth at Jack & Sons Auto Body. Jack had purchased the car nearly five years earlier, but hadn't gotten around to giving the car the full restoration it deserved. It took about a year and a half for Robert to pry the convertible from Jack's hands, but eventually the deal was sealed.

The first task was freshening up the big 390. For this task, Robert enlisted the help of Scott Reider at Reiders Machine Shop. Scott stripped the V-8 down to the short-block; then, following an 0.040-bore job and shaving the crank 0.010, Scott added some heft to the tune of TRW forged flat-top pistons and a warm Wolverine Blue Racer cam. After touching up the stock heads, Scott dropped in a Tri-power intake sporting dual 240-cfm Holley 2Vs and a Holley 300-cfm unit. A chrome engine dress-up kit and a PerTronix electronic ignition finished up the powerplant redo.

Further down the driveline, Robert decided to leave well enough alone, keeping the stock C6 automatic and 3.25:1 open rearend in place. On the handling side, Robert added KYB Gas-a-just shocks to the four corners, and for modern-day driving safety and performance he included Granada front disc brakes and a power booster from a '68 Torino GT.

With the drivetrain ready to rumble, Robert's attention turned to bringing the Fairlane's body back to optimal condition. Although Robert enlisted the help of Jerry and Perry Detweiler for some of the welding tasks, he managed most of the sheetmetal work by himself. Moving into the paint booth beside which the GTA had languished for five years, Jerry Detweiler laid a striking basecoat/clearcoat of Red Garnet onto the Fairlane.

Similarly, Robert decided to keep the interior close to its original form. Dings, scratches, and other cockpit blemishes were tended, with red vinyl seat covers rounding out the repairs. A couple of deviations from originality include the Sun Tune oil pressure, temperature, and voltage gauges mounted beneath the dashboard, as well as replacing the original AM radio with an aftermarket AM/FM/cassette stereo system. Add the new white top and fresh BFGoodrich T/A radials to the 15x7 Styled Steel wheels, and the makeover was complete.

"When I restored this car in the late '80s, there were very few reproduction parts. I had to do a lot of junkyard scrounging and automotive flea-market hunting, Robert says. Thanks to his friends and his father, the Fairlane was completed in fine form, and today competes for highway time with Robert's street-modified '69 Mach 1 and '57 Ford retractable hardtop.

Soon to be added to that list is a '57 Mercury Cruiser convertible Pace Car. For now, though, Robert is quite happy venting those childhood fantasies in his spiffed-up Fairlane.

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