Wayne Cook
February 5, 2010
Photos By: Mustang & Fords Archives

Alternative Project Possibilities
Alternative Classic Ford Projects

When we look at the average age of our readership we realize that many of you have been around almost as long as we have. During our long period of Ford ownership when we look back over the years we've had plenty of classic Mustangs. There have been four or five fastbacks, several convertibles, and a few coupes as well. Although we love all Mustangs, there comes a time when we yearn for something a little different. Fortunately for us, the classic Ford universe is filled with many cool alternative project possibilities. The range of choices is considerable and Falcons, Fairlanes, and Galaxies all count as very worthy subjects. Some of these cars have interesting racing pedigrees and the range of possibilities for replicas or clones is huge. Both the Galaxie and Fairlane have colorful NASCAR histories and replicas of these racers would be very interesting subjects. The same is true of Mercury with the Comet, Cougar, and Cyclones all being great project possibilities and all having a colorful and extensive racing heritage. Even classic Ford vehicles that are usually considered outside of the Total Performance framework make interesting possibilities. Certainly the Thunderbird is one choice that is not considered a muscle car, per se, but nonetheless they are great-looking cars that came from the factory with plenty of power. Also consider the likes of the Maverick, Pinto, and Mustang II; even fullsize trucks make great projects.

Another vehicle that belongs in this category is the Ranchero. Although the pickup hybrid vehicle was originally based on the tiny Falcon platform, the later versions of the Ranchero were based on the larger Fairlane starting in 1966. Hence, by this time it was possible to get a big-block in a Ranchero and a little later 428 Cobra Jet versions were created. Clearly, almost any Ranchero would be a worthy and interesting project vehicle.

A personal favorite of ours are the '66 -'67 Fairlanes. Many consider this body style to be Ford's finest muscle car design triumph and second only to the Mustang in sublime dimension. From a standpoint of versatility Ford was determined to be second to none and it offered this model of the Fairlane in no less than five body styles. Besides the timeless two-door hardtop, the car was also offered in a two-door sedan or "post" version. This car had a formal roofline and was popular with drag racers because of the rigid body structure. Third was a four-door sedan, a station wagon, and lastly the Fairlane Ranchero. In our long and varied classic Ford travels we have seen interesting incarnations of each body style, and even the four-door cars have their place in the classic Ford world. Let's begin our classic Ford alternative overview with a focus on Fairlanes and then we'll also examine many of the other interesting project possibilities out there.

Focus On Fairlanes

Here's an example of a '67 Fairlane hardtop we picked up for about $5,000. Although the car had a few parking lot dents, it was relatively rust-free and complete right down to the stock wheel covers. Talk about a great project car. Adding nothing more than a set of Vintage Wheel Works five-spokes transforms the car on the outside, as you can see here. We were going to go to town on this car with all sorts of interesting modifications and upgrades but somebody we met saw it with the wheels, fell in love, and made us an offer so good we couldn't refuse. Never underestimate the value of a good set of wheels and tires no matter what type of classic Ford car you're working with.

Here's another approach to a cool '66 Fairlane. This car started life as a plain jane Fairlane 500, but this fellow chose to go with a custom color, emblems and molding delete, and larger late-model Bullitt Mustang wheels and tires. Here, understatement is elegance and this fellow has got things spot on.

If you've got a post-style two-door sedan then you have the body style many racers prefer. The solid door post in the middle of the roof line adds considerable rigidity to the car. Actually, the formal roof line also gives the car an additional "sleeper" dimension that some people love. This Wimbledon White example has only a set of American Racing wheels and a factory style R-code 427 hood to tip off an unsuspecting opponent.

You don't have to have a big-block hiding underhood to have a killer engine bay. This owner went the whole dress up route using the original 289 engine. This is not high-dollar stuff here, just a high level of attention to paint work and detail. The shock tower braces and Monte Carlo bar surely add to the car's handling prowess.

As we go back into the into the Fairlane line up we come to the '64 model. This hardtop version of the '64 is called a Sport Coupe and it's extremely nice. This owner decided to go with the Thunderbolt-style power, even though his car is not a sedan or a replica. The 427 FE the owner installed certainly replicates the Thunderbolt power source accurately-and this car gets with the program in an authoritative way when the throttle hits the floor. We'll look at the possibility of a Thunderbolt clone a little later on.

If we go back to the reintroduction of the Fairlane in 1962 we find this model. The car's styling is clearly at the transitional period from the busy embellishment popular in the early '60s to the later, more elegant designs. This car was very popular with young families of the time, and most people chose the inline six. The big news powerplant for this car was the brand-new-for-'62 260 cubic inch Fairlane V-8. This engine would shortly become the famous 289, which in factory modified form, would go on to win twice at Le Mans in the GT40 later in the 1960's. If you came across the little old lady from Pasadena in this car you'd definitely have your hands full with her "brand-new shiny red Super Stock Dodge." However, we'll have the Blue Oval sleeper solution to her a little later on for you. (It's a Jan & Dean song reference; you younger folk will have to Google it-Ed.)