It seems we all remember our first car. Whether it was a gift, a pile of junk, or four wheels that provided untold memories, these cars tend to stick in our minds, and most of the time it seems that we find ourselves regretting ever selling them; especially if they happened to be a rare or valuable model. Terry Schuette decided to give his three sons an option that would hopefully keep them from rashly parting with their first cars, and not having those regrets.
As each son came of driving age, a deal was made where Terry would help them purchase and fix up their first cars. The catch was that Terry held onto the titles until they were 21. Ideally, they would have outgrown the impetuous decision-making process of a teenager, and be more inclined to hold onto those memories on wheels. The deal was made all the more sweet, as each Schuette brother would eventually own a Blue Oval hot rod. "We've always been a Ford family," says Chris Schuette.
"We found the original '66 Fairlane Club Coupe in a garage across the street from my grandmother's house," recalls Chris. "It was owned by the proverbial 'old lady' that you always hear about. It had just under 18,000 miles and was in immaculate shape, except for the fact that she parked the car in a garage with dirt floors. The condensation and moisture took its toll on the undercarriage, but the interior, engine bay, trunk, bumpers, and trim work were nearly spotless."
Chris and his father decided that they would locate another '66 Fairlane shell and transfer all of the components to that car. Before long, they had located a rolling chassis in Arizona and had it shipped to Ohio to undergo the transplant.
The chassis was painted in a fresh coat of Wimbledon White, and the 200ci straight six-cylinder engine was dropped in, along with the C4 automatic and 8-inch rear. The interior, including the stock bench seat, rubber floor mats, and radio delete instrument cluster were all swapped in, and all of the exterior trim work and molding were also transferred over.
"I was able to score a set of 14-inch Magnum 500s to help dress the car up a little bit," says Chris. "It was no race car by any means, but I thought I was the coolest guy in town when I finally got my driver's license the day I turned 16."
Chris' Fairlane served as daily transportation through high school and into his first year of college. Realizing it wasn't the most practical car, Chris stored the Fairlane in a friend's barn.
After completing college and getting established with a "real job," Chris decided it was time to pull the Fairlane out and give it an updated makeover.
"Again, with the help of my dad, the car was disassembled and the entire body was stripped," says Chris. This time around, he picked out the brightest white he could find-Ford Ultra White. Waterville Body Works (Waterville, Ohio) took care of the paint and bodywork, and when it came back from the booth, Chris and his dad ditched the straight six for a 5.0L V-8 out of an '89 Mustang GT and dropped it between the Fairlane's fenders. The bench seat wormed its way back inside the car for now, and Chris upsized the wheels to 15-inch American Racing Equipment Torq Thrust D wheels.
"Every true car guy knows that a project car is never finished," exclaims Chris. Indeed, Chris' project remains a work in progress, despite the finished appearance. Over the last 10 years, Chris has swapped out the wheels for 16x8-inch Ion Series 625 hoops from JD Wheels (Columbus, OH), changed out the stock rearend for a 9-inch with Traction-Lok diff and 3.50 gears, converted the front brakes to discs, added headers, a hot Comp Cams bumpstick, a Holley 600-cfm carburetor, a Weiand Stealth intake manifold, added Ford Racing aluminum cylinder heads, and Fairlane GTA bucket seats among other mods.
Chris' brother Scott, whose Scott Rod Fabrications (Sylvania, Ohio) company creates unique sheetmetal solutions for late-model Mustangs, among other vehicles, fabricated a Monte Carlo bar and export brace just for the Fairlane. Chris also lowered the stance of the car using shorter coils up front and lowering blocks out back.
In 2006, Chris won Best of Class at the Fairlane Club of America national event in Cincinnati, Ohio-a testament to the clean look, choice mods, and top-notch execution of concept. It's been a team effort over the past 25 years, as Chris' brothers, Tim and Scott, along with his wife, Lea, and the Fairlane Club of America have all helped in some shape or form. And without Chris' father, Terry Schuette, this Fairlane would probably have ended up in someone else's hands.
Twenty-five years later, how did the Schuette brothers fair? Well, Chris obviously still has his Fairlane, and his brother Scott still owns his '70 Torino GT. The Schuettes would have pulled the hat trick had it not been for an unfortunate garage fire that claimed the life of brother Tim's '66 Shelby GT350H Mustang. Until death do us part-a lasting commitment indeed.
Chris Schuette's '66 Fairlane 500 Club Coupe
- Ford 302HO, Assembled by Fall Automotive Machine (Toledo, Ohio)
- Stock pistons, rods, and crankshaft
- 9:1 compression ratio
- Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) GT-40X aluminum cylinder heads, 1.94-inch intake and 1.54-inch exhaust valves, port-matched to intake manifold, Scorpion 1.6:1 roller rocker arms, FRPP pushrods
- Competition Cams hydraulic roller camshaft
- Weiand Stealth dual-plane intake manifold
- Holley 80457 600-cfm vacuum secondary four-barrel carburetor
- Pro Comp Gilmer beltdrive
- Factory distributor with Pertronix Igniter and MSD 6A box
- C4 automatic built by Lays Transmission (Toledo, Ohio)
- B&M Tork Master 2,400-rpm, 10.5-inch stall converter
- '66 Fairlane GTA automatic floor shifter
- Ford 9-inch axle
- Traction-Lok differential
- Richmond 3.50 gears
- 28-spline axle shafts
- Hedman shorty-style 1-1/2-inch headers
- Stainless steel 2-1/2-inch pipes
- Flowmaster mufflers
- Front: Stock A-arms, 650-lb/in 1-inch drop coil springs, 1-1/8-inch antisway bar
- Rear: Stock leaf springs with 2-inch lowering blocks
- Front: Disc, 11-inch rotors
- Rear: Drum, 11-inch stock drums
- Front: Ion Series 625, 16x8-inch, polished lips, black spokes, 12mm offset
- Rear: Ion Series 625, 16x8-inch, polished lips, black spokes, -5mm offset
- Front: Yokohama YK420, P225/50R16
- Rear: Yokohama YK420, P235/55R16
- Restored original blue vinyl upholstery, ACC loop pile carpet, Moto Lita steering wheel, radio-delete instrument cluster, underdash-mounted gauges, GTA bucket seats and console
- Crites Restoration Products 427 Fairlane fiberglass ram air hood, Ford Ultra White repaint in basecoat/clearcoat by Waterville Body Works (Waterville, Ohio)