Eric English
March 1, 2008

Of all the cars in the "Total Performance" era, it would be tough to find one more overlooked than the '65 Fairlane. Contributing to the situation is a surprising, one-year-only body style, sandwiched by the '64 and its legendary Thunderbolt racers, and the stylish '66-'67s with their regular-production big-block 390s. In stark contrast, the '65s have little race history and were maxed out on the production line with the Hi-Po 289, of which precious few were built. Sealing the odd-man-out deal was the timing of the '65-simultaneous to the frenzy over the brand-new Mustang, for which most two-door buyers fell head over heels.

As for the particular '65 spread before you, we know nothing of its early history other than originally being a six-cylinder/automatic-equipped Fairlane 500 hardtop-one notch down from the top-of-the-line Sports Coupe model. Rather, our story begins in the early '80s when Silverdale, Washington's Bill Miller traded a VW bus engine to a coworker for the veritable basketcase. That Bill was willing to part with such a lowly prize for any Ford of the era is hardly a surprise, having been raised in a blue-blood FoMoCo family and counting a '64 Falcon as his first set of wheels. It wasn't long before Bill had the Dynasty Green machine up and running, and the accumulation of parts became a wrecking yard (and later eBay) obsession. Various incarnations followed, but we'll fast forward to 2001, when he became serious and tore down the '65 to the shell for a ground-up resto effort.

Bill is fortunate to count Bob Burris in his circle of close-knit car buddies, and Bob would be the guy to lead the effort of prepping the body for the gorgeous, two-stage DuPont topcoat. Bill says the long hours of bodywork were split fairly evenly between the two men, but it was Bob who deftly laid down the factory color. Though the car wasn't originally two-toned, the white top was an available color scheme in 1965, and Bill opted for it during the repaint. Of course, the bumpers and countless trim pieces were either rechromed, refinished, or replaced, and contribute mightily to the overall stellar appearance.

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Beautiful as the results may be, Bill chuckles when explaining that unless the hood is raised, his car doesn't draw the kind of attention you might expect-such is the continuing plight of this overlooked intermediate. However, the story changes considerably when the powerplant is revealed, for most enthusiasts have never laid eyes on a '65 Fairlane that delved this deep into restomod territory. It's not just that the car sports an EFI 5.0L as its motivation, it's the fact that it's loaded with some of the best bits and pieces the aftermarket has to offer. The basis for the whole affair is a long-rod, 306-cube, short-block from D.S.S. Competition Products, perhaps best known as a big player in the world of late-model Mustangs. Based on a fully prepped production roller-cam block, the internals feature lightweight forged pistons, H-beam rods, and D.S.S.' own main-cap support system. An Anderson Ford Motorsport N91 hydraulic roller cam pops the valves in the aluminum AFR 185s, while the inductionside features a Victor 5.0 manifold with 30-pound injectors, a 75mm Edelbrock throttle body, and a C&L 85mm mass air meter.

Backing the potent powerplant is the expected stick-shift transmission thanks to an '89 spec T-5 five-speed, while farther arrears lies a stout 9-inch assembly pulled from a late-'70s {{{Lincoln}}}. The housing was narrowed by Jantz Engineering and filled with such goodies as a nodular iron case, a Traction-Lok differential, 3.70 gears, and Moser axles. The factory Lincoln rear discs were freshened and teamed with Granada fronts, a Wilwood proportioning valve, and Mustang SVO master cylinder, while the suspension was treated to a thorough overhaul including all-new bushings, springs, and KYB gas shocks.

Bill spends plenty of sunny day miles behind the wheel of his Fairlane, so updating the interior was an important part of the equation from the start. Sharp eyes will notice the dash is fitted with a rare radio-delete panel found in a wrecking-yard four-door, but that doesn't mean Bill is satisfied to hit the road with just the sound of the stout small-block up front. No, a Pioneer CD head unit is housed in the custom center console, supported by a {{{300}}}-watt JBL amp and a quartet of JBL speakers. The power front buckets were sourced from an '84 T-bird and rebuilt/recovered in black tweed by A-Tech Auto Restyling of Columbus, Ohio-along with the door panels and original rear seat.

In the end, we love that Bill has taken a decidedly different approach to classic Ford performance-supported in a big way by his wife, Nanci, and his daughter, Caiti. Sure, the '65 may not be the pinnacle of Fairlane styling, but it's still an excellent example of mid-'60s design, and arguably every bit as attractive as the competition (think '65 Malibu).

Those who seek a unique angle to our hobby ought to be particularly inspired by the content of this story, evidenced in part by the fact that it's been more than four years since we encountered our last feature-worthy '65 (Dec. '02). Bill Miller's example brings well-deserved attention to this historically ignored hot-rod option, and we give him a big thumbs-up for a job well done.

The Details
'65 Fairlane 500 Hardtop
Owner: Bill Miller, Silverdale, WA

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Engine

  • D.S.S. 306-inch Super Pro Bullet short-block
  • AFR 185 heads, 2.02/1.60-inch stainless valves
  • Anderson Ford Motorsport N91 hydraulic roller cam, 0.576-inch lift, 240/249 duration at 0.050
  • Edelbrock Victor 5.0 intake
  • Edelbrock 75mm throttle body
  • C&L 85mm mass air meter
  • ACCEL distributor and ignition system
  • Custom Bullistic stainless tank, Aeromotive fuel pump and regulator, 30-lb/hr Ford
  • Racing Performance Parts injectors
  • EEC IV PCM w/Predator chip by Dyno Sources, Sequim, Washington
  • Transmission

  • '89 T-5 five-speed
  • Hays clutch and flywheel
  • Rearend

  • Nodular case 9-inch
  • Traction-Lok differential
  • Richmond 3.70 gears
  • Moser 28-spline axles
  • Exhaust

  • Hooker long tubes
  • 2-1/2-inch exhaust
  • Three-chamber 70-Series Flowmasters
  • Suspension

  • Front: Stock, rebuilt, KYB gas shocks
  • Rear: Stock, rebuilt, KYB gas shocks, custom subframe connectors
  • Brakes

  • Front: Granada disc
  • Rear: {{{Lincoln}}} disc
  • Wheels

  • Front: Ultra Type 50, 15x7-inch
  • Rear: Ultra Type 50, 15x8-inch
  • Tires

  • Front: Grand Am Radial GT, P205/60R15
  • Rear: Grand Am Radial GT, P235/60R15
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    Interior

  • Thunderbird bucket seats
  • custom-built console
  • Auto Meter gauges
  • Pioneer CD player, JBL speakers and amplifier
  • Exterior

  • Dynasty Green in DuPont basecoat/clearcoat, top painted white (factory option)