Modified Mustangs & FordsFeatured Vehicles
1966 Ford Fairlane Hardtop - R-Code Icon
The 427 Fairlane Is The Holy Grail From The Total Performance Years
The '66 Fairlane 500 hardtop you see here is owned by Ann and Eddy Hanley of Tarrytown, New York. Ann and Eddy are siblings and they and several other family members inherited the car from their brother George, who passed away during the restoration of the Fairlane. George bought the Fairlane from the original owner as a project way back in 1980 for the low sum of just less than $1,000. The car had been sitting under an Oak tree for many years and was covered in acorns. As Eddy puts it, the hardtop had "begun to turn green." The engine and transmission were nearby in a barn, as were many other original parts to the Fairlane. George was an auto body man by trade, and he worked in the industry for 45 years. George's obsession with correctness on the restoration of the car amazed both Ann and Eddy.
George's intention was to restore the Wimbledon White Fairlane to its original glory as one of only 57 R-code '66 427 Fairlanes ever produced. Many muscle car purists believe that the '66-'67 Fairlane hardtop is Ford's best styling effort ever and this unadorned R-code example is the Holy Grail for many Blue Oval muscle car enthusiasts. Compared to the Chevelles and GTO's of the day, the Fairlane was light in weight and the R-code 427 medium-riser engine made it very competitive. Ford needed 50 examples of this car with the 427 and Top Loader powertrain to achieve certification for racing, and in the end 57 units were produced. From the dog dish hubcaps to the bench seat and radio delete, the car was bare bones and all business.
The only deviation from stock condition left on this particular example is the radio. Back in the day, the original owner wanted another form of music available in the car so he had an AM radio installed, complete with the correct instrument bezel. However, the Fairlane was originally a radio delete car furnished with a block-off plate. The antenna was also added after delivery. Although they left the radio in place, everywhere else the car was returned to original condition. Over the years George accumulated as many original and NOS parts as possible. Yearly visits to the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, All-Ford Nationals yielded tons of stuff, including a '68 NOS side-oiler block. The original block had a welded repair and George did not want to use it. Other boxes, including hubcaps, door handles, and directional signal lenses began to pile up.
Although the Fairlane was complete and in relatively undamaged condition, the acorns that had accumulated in the cowling had held moisture and rusted the part beyond repair. A Fairlane convertible donor car was found and the complete cowling assembly was transferred to the hardtop body. Fender flares from racing days were removed by carefully reforming the metal to original contours using a hammer and dolly, repairs an expert like George was more than capable of handling. Eddy reports that the bodywork took months to accomplish. Other vestiges from the car's early racing days, such as the car's welded on traction bars, were removed. When at last the body repairs were complete the new Wimbledon White paintjob was applied at Reliance Auto Body of Dover, New Jersey.
George was in the midst of the engine assembly when he passed away in 2005. Eddy and his cousin Fred finished the project after inheriting the Fairlane. The end result is the car you see here. Eddy reports that the car is quiet with the factory exhaust, but that it has a very healthy feel to it. Included in the documentation for the Fairlane are timeslips from different New Jersey dragstrips showing times in the 11s. When Eddy wrapped up the project he took the Fairlane around to show all of George's old friends, who all say the same thing: "If only George could see it now."