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1966 Ford Fairlane GTA - Assured Acceptance
Carrying the Intermediate Flag Into the Future
The classic era for muscle cars revolved around intermediates, as it was this body style that was selected as the weapon of choice for America's major carmakers. With wheelbase sizes ranging from 114 inches (AMC) to 117 inches (Dodge Coronet), intermediates were lighter and smaller than the usual full size offerings. This category helped create a quantum leap scenario thanks to the industry's hot big-block engines. Ford's '66 Fairlane GT fit right in with its 116-inch wheelbase. It was the year anyone could buy a "standard equipment" big-block in this very smooth and attractive body design, and have the look, power, and instant reputation to kick butt on the streets of America.
On the other hand, Ford was so committed to the Pony Car market, thanks to its trendsetting Mustang, that the '66 was the company's first and only "standard" big-block V-8 intermediate offered until the Torino Cobra debuted in 1969. As a result, Ford never produced near the volume Chevy, Pontiac, and even Mopar did in this market segment. Still, the '66 Fairlane GT was sweet enough that we're still talking about it more than four decades later.
One of the lucky ones who has always talked about these cars is Larry Cook of Atlanta. He bought his first GTA at the end of the 1967 model year when he was merely 17 years old. It was his new replacement for a '50 Ford business coupe powered by a 322-cid Buick Nail Head with six one-barrel carbs. Number one cousin wouldn't let Larry buy that car with the hot rodded Buick mill, so it was replaced with a more docile 265ci Chevy and corresponding tranny. Larry actually did paint and interior work on this early Ford to complete this high school ride. Eat your heart out Fonzie.
By the time Larry drove his first Fairlane GTA home from the dealership, he was quickly becoming a Ford fanatic. Even now, he has another '50 Ford business coupe with a supercharged four-cam 4.6 awaiting completion in his garage.
As life accelerated forward, our hero got married and started a family. That meant the GTA had to be replaced because it wasn't "practical enough." Besides, the early '70s were not the friendliest time frame for bulging muscle cars thanks to high gas prices and insurance premiums, and stifling emission regulations. As always, though, the love of these cars kept simmering inside Larry until the day he'd be able to walk on the wild side once again. He crossed that street in the summer of 2003 when he found this car at Pigeon Forge's Shades of the Past car show in Tennessee.
Larry actually was targeting two Fairlanes at this event—a black '66 and a red '67. Another Fairlane enthusiast snatched up the red one before Larry could find its owner, so he approached the owner of the black one and tried to strike up a deal. Shortly after they agreed on a price, the seller chickened out and decided not to part with it after all. Larry was crushed, as you might imagine.
After the depressing drive home from the show, Larry called the seller to see if he might change his mind. He did, and said someone else was on his way over to pick up the car. "Fast Larry" was able to convince him right then and there he was the one who should get the Fairlane. Finally, the seller agreed and let him seal the deal over the phone.
The seller said he would deliver the car from Tennessee to Larry's house in Georgia. When he arrived with the GTA in tow, he told Larry he had second (third?) thoughts again, and didn't want to sell it after all. Fortunately, after a little more down home conversation, the reluctant guy officially handed the car, and its title, over to Larry. The whole experience proved once again the old adage that the best things in life are the hardest to get. Watching someone like this character drive away with an empty trailer was no doubt a very satisfying sight for Larry.