(first posted 1/16/2015) It’s a peculiar pattern. From the early 1970s all the way up until their demise in 2006, the Australian Ford Fairlane and LTD would completely transform visually with each generation. Even more peculiarly, the Fairlane and LTD would alternate between looking uncomfortably close to its shorter wheelbase Falcon/Fairmont platform mate and going for a bold, American design.
The Fairlane started off in 1959 as a locally assembled version of the US Ford, using parts from Ford of Canada.
In 1962, it was aligned with the new intermediate Fairlane. This arrangement would be short-lived, as 1964 would be the final year of this size of Fairlane; Ford Australia was making room for the larger Galaxie.
That decision, too, proved short-lived; the Fairlane would return for 1967, once again closely related to its American counterpart. It’s important to note the Fairlane was available only as a sedan over the years; no swoopy fastback Fairlanes reached our shores officially.
Early in the Seventies, Ford launched its bulbous XA Falcon that shared much in the way of design language with the American Torino and Mustang. A corresponding ZF Fairlane arrived in 1972, with the same organic lines. Nineteen seventy-three would see the arrival of the LTD, a higher trim version of the Fairlane.
Despite some detail changes over the years, this generation was clearly related to the Falcon and didn’t look particularly prestigious. P5 LTDs did come with hidden headlights, though, a sleek touch that would soon make way for something bolder.
For 1976, the Fairlane and LTD received more formal angular sheetmetal and a more upright grille, while the Falcon received only detail changes.
There were echoes of the Mercury Marquis and even a little AMC Matador in the lines, and it was clearly very American in appearance. A new trim level, the Fairlane Marquis, was also added.
If the Fairlane was a breath of fresh Dearborn air, the P6-series LTD went full American Brougham. Pie-plate headlights, a Lincoln Mark IV-inspired grille and upscale Silver Monarch and Town Car editions made a night-and-day visual difference between Falcon and LTD.
The Eighties beckoned, though, and cleaner, sheerer designs were quickly becoming the norm. Despite a unique six-light glasshouse, quad headlights and a formal grille, the 1979 ZJ Fairlane and FC LTD were once again much closer to Falcon in appearance.
The FC LTD did come with heavily tinted, wide taillights though, which I’ve always loved. Overall, however, this line of Fairlanes/LTDs always looked like frumpier, fussier versions of their corresponding Falcons despite numerous visual changes over their nine-year run.
It may look somewhat like the 1988 Lincoln Continental, but the 1988 NA Fairlane and DA LTD’s new underpinnings retained a conventional rear-wheel drive layout. Ford Australia had ditched V8s in 1983, so the new luxury Fords were similar to the Continental in having only six-cylinder propulsion.
These new Fairlanes and LTDs had their own application of the smoother, aero look that was taking over Ford. The six-window glasshouse remained, as did the large taillights and extended length, but overall they were much more modern and more clearly differentiated from the Falcon. It helped, too, that the new Holden VQ Statesman and Caprice looked uncomfortably close to their Commodore platform mates. For 1991, V8s would return to the Aussie Fords to help in the battle against Holden.
Like the EF Falcon, the 1995 NF Fairlane and DF LTD were a heavy revision of the existing platform. While the new-for-1994 EF Falcon looked curvier and yet somehow more substantial than the EA-ED Falcons, the Fairlane/LTD once again became more closely aesthetically linked with the Falcon.
They still had their unique roof and glasshouse, but the front and rear ends were visually similar to the Falcon.
New Edge was taking over at Ford, though, and the end of the Nineties would see the beginning of bolder designs. The 1998 AU Falcon’s design had shocked Australia, with many lambasting the design for repeating the mistakes of the 1996 Taurus.
The next year, Australia would be greeted with the most American-looking Fairlane/LTD since the gaudy, gauche P6 LTD of the late 1970s. The new AU-series luxury Fords were a stark departure from the AU Falcons. The LTD even came with chrome wheels, a design touch far, far less common here than in the US.
The final Fairlanes and LTDs would be far more austere in design. The 2002 BA Falcon had been a heavy visual revision of the AU, with handsome, clean and more premium styling and a dramatically higher-quality interior. They were so impressive, I bought one.
The gaudy AU had basically halved sales of the Fairlane, and they had never recovered; what’s more, the LTD had only ever sold a fraction of its lesser brother’s sales. Private buyers were a shrinking percentage of Fairlane/LTD sales, with the majority being Silver Service taxis, limousines or official government vehicles, so Ford Australia didn’t bother to invest too much money in visually differentiating the longer twins from the Falcon. This time around, they even kept the same taillights.
Despite a sportier G220 (later G8) line with a stylish burgundy leather interior, the Fairlane/LTD’s days were numbered. Unless you really needed the extra rear legroom, it was much better and cheaper to get the shorter Fairmont Ghia. They had the same high-quality dash, smooth inline six (or optional V8) and automatic with manual shift. Despite the bland styling, these final long-wheelbase Aussie Fords were the best overall, with strong power, good handling and a comfortable ride. A Lincoln Town Car was positively antediluvian in comparison but sadly, Ford executives didn’t see the value in exporting the Aussie Fords or building them elsewhere.
Ford built the last long-wheelbase Aussie Ford sedan in December 2007. Holden and Chrysler would be the last men standing in the full-size premium segment.
The front fenders on the 76-79 Fairlane seem to resemble the US Ford Granada.
Wonderful set of photos. Most of these Fords echo designs from elsewhere in the Ford world – plenty of hints of Cortinas, Granadas, Sierras and Mondeos.
The one otherworldly moment for this Brit is the dark blue 1992 Fairlane which looks oddly similar to a second-generation (curvier + heritage grille) Rover 800. Very curious!
Yes, that white 1979-1982 XD Fairmont clearly says 1977 Ford Granada Mk2.
They shared some cosmetic parts- the headlights for example, but the platform and mechanical parts were developments of the mid 1960s Falcon.
I see; they look remarkably alike. (Photo courtesy Rudolf Stricker)
While I find it fascinating, I have to admit that I end up with a headache every time I’m following the history of either Holden or Ford Australia. Its like you’re looking at almost-American cars, but the model designations are maddening, the stylings are almost right but not quite, and nothing quite seems to fit.
I suppose you’ve got to be born there for it to truly make sense.
+1. American cars from outer space!
I felt the same when I screened some of Australian films and visited Australia for the first time in the 1980s. Trying to figure out what the heck was this or that car often distracted me from the story and plot of the Australian films, especially first of Mad Max films.
The most insane is the front end of P6 Ford LTD (Australian) blatantly copying 1975-1977 Chrylser Cordoba (American). I kept thinking it was a Chrysler only to realise it was a Ford with posh nose job.
I doubt there was time for them to copy the Cordoba. More likely is they used Lincoln styling cues such as the 1973 Town Car (Mercury for the Fairlane) and dropped the hidden headlights as either problematic or simply not necessary (valued by customers).
The LTD acronym was rumoured to stand for “Lincoln Type Design” in Australia, I don’t think Ford ever officially gave a definition.
My first car was 59 Ford Fairlane in those same colors. Worse car I ever had. Lesson learned, don’t buy $100 Fords. Buy a $400 1963 Chevy Belair, a much better car.
The EF Fairlane is about what I’d imagine a Mazda version of the second-generation Taurus/Sable would have looked like.
I think my favorite by far is the 79-82 XD, looks like the spitting image of the euro Granada Mk2. In wagon form….swoon! For many of you guys, the ’60’s and ’70’s iron brings back the memories, for me it’s this generation. Although I don’t recall ever having ridden in one I certainly saw enough of them on the streets.
The green ’72 XA makes me think of the first generation Euro Granada and the Consul for some reason, except the picture makes me think it’s a bout one size larger.
The late 80’s, early 90’s have a LOT of Mazda 626/929 in them, not sure where or by whom each was designed but clearly Ford had lots of influence there. Australia had the 626 as well, right, or was it just the rebadged Ford Telstar that was available?
Thanks for this history, William, very interesting, when I was in NZ many years back it was a lot of fun to see clearly familiar marques but with quite different (but often still very familiar conceptually) sheetmetal compared to what was at home.
Jim, yes we had the 626 and Telstar/TX-5
That’s my favorite car here, too. I love that look whether it’s on a Granada, Taunus, Falcon, Fairmont or Cortina.
What’s the post-mortem on Ford’s Australian manufacturing? Was it high labor costs, or supply-chain costs?
Good article in the New York Times from this past December explaining everything. Basically an economic boom sparked by the mining industry caused a double whammy of a strong Aussie dollar and mounting labor costs. Combine that with the easing of protectionist tariffs and import restrictions and you have an industry that can’t sustain itself in its home market.
Times: Australia’s Once-Vibrant Auto Industry Crashes in Slow Motion http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/14/automobiles/australias-once-vibrant-auto-industry-crashes-in-slow-motion.html?_r=0
Thanks, good read. BTW, a beneficiary of Australia’s mining boom has been US locomotive builders.
I wrote about the impending demise of Australia’s auto industry back in 2008, at a time when most Americans did not have a clear picture of what was really going on at the time:
Paul- Toyota will also cease manufacturing cars in Australia soon,so we will have no auto industry.Petrol has, until the recent fall in oil prices,been expensive and Australian tastes in cars are changing,ie larger and less fuel efficient cars sales have declined rapidly.Many analysts attribute the fall in global oil prices to reduced demand for oil due to countries such as the USA and Australia engaging in a wild rush,the practise of fracking.Fracking means pumping vast amounts of chemicals into the ground to release oil.The companies deny the chemicals will affect our underground water quality,the greed and stupidity of some humans.Recently Australia’s wild rush to mine everything in sight is starting to fall apart with the prices of iron ore and coal plummeting.The last Holden Commodores are reportedly quite good cars.
I understand. Things have evolved further since I wrote that in 2008. But at that time, hardly anyone in the US realized that GM and Ford in Australia were already in a serious decline. A lot of Americans then had the impression that the Falcon and Holdens were still kings of the market, like it had been in the US at one time.
Mr. Lohrey, I understand fracking is a hydraulic process, involving mostly water, so it’s an exaggeration to say it’s involves a “vast amount of chemicals.” Now it is true that some chemicals are necessary to the process, & could indeed pose pollution problems, but keep it in proportion. Petroleum production is a messy business, no getting around it.
The accusation of Corporate Greed is a cheap shot. Better have evidence before making it. For my part, I have a hard time judging who is greedy & who is not, other than convicted thieves, of course.
I’ve driven all but one of the post-1979 cars shown here and they are good solid cars with the exception of one or two issues. I was lucky enough to get a rental upgraded to a Fairlane for a Sydney-Brisbane trip a few years ago and enjoyed that car.
Neil- more than anything the market moved away to SUVs, dual cab pickups or small cars that are not small any more. In the Fairlane’s case the small Euro luxury cars too.
The Falcon was always done on a tight budget too, and that had some consequences such as shared sheet metal as shown here. Too many factors for a comment really!
it’s a shame the US and AUS Ford lineups diverged so much back then. The ’70s Aus. Fairlanes are quite good looking cars.
and the P6 LTD could have made a credible Lincoln with some trim upgrades.
I actually think that P6 was superior to contemporary Lincoln models, pretty much in every way. All of them are large barges of course, but the P6 was a definitely better handling car without losing any comfort. It was roomier inside as well and the construction quality considerably better.
Several factors behind that divergence that I can think of, just off the top of my head. Aussies’ desire for a handier, more maneuvrable car, fuel costs favouring sixes over V8s, and our general tendency not to slow down for corners.
Nicely written article William!
Quick question for you. When did the Fairlane/LTD get IRS? Would that be when the AU debuted in 1998?
Correct Eric. The IRS was fitted to the lwb sedans plus three upper trim swb sedans. It was a double-wishbone layout in a subframe mounted mostly using existing suspension mounts.
The remainder of the sedans kept the live axle (4-link with Watt’s linkage), and the wagons and utes kept the leaf springs but now with the bottom shock mount outside the spring instead of inside.
It’s too bad the ’70s Australian Fords weren’t the American Fords. In my opinion, they were sooooooo much better looking.
That P6 LTD sure looks like a Cordoba/Mark IV mashup in front and a late sixties Fairlane from there back.
Actually Ford US did see the value in producing the AU Fords in the US. The plan was for a car based on the Falcon platform to be used as a replacement for the Panthers.
I read a big article in a car magazine that detailed the plan. However between the time that they started the article and when it was to go to press Mullaly canceled the program. So rather than scrap the article it was prefaced by an explanation that since they had finished the article Ford announced that they were canceling the program but they figured they would run it anyway. Instead Ford of course let both soldier on as long as they could. The Panther meeting its end in the US when stability control was mandated for 2012 models, though a handful of cars badged as 2012’s were produced for the Gulf Council Countries. The Falcon of course is still plodding along waiting for that soon to fall axe.
What were the details? The AU Falcon was about the same size as a Taurus, doubt they were planning to bring that to NA, was it to be enlarged?
It was not going to be just the AU Falcon made/sold in the US. It would have been an updated version, significantly redesigned but not all new. The US versions would have longer wheel bases and overall size to properly replace the Panthers. A short wheelbase version would have been the basis of the Mustang. http://jalopnik.com/371261/mustang-aussie-ford-to-focus-on-the-falcon-not-so-much-mercury
After Mullaly came in he said we can’t afford it and cut the program off then and there.
to be fair, at that time Ford really *couldn’t* afford it.
Given that the current Falcon is a direct evolution of the 1966 XR, which is largely based on the 1960 Falcon, Jalopnik’s “rumor mill” reporting doesn’t exactly have much credibility. There has never been a completely new Australian Falcon since day one, or at least 1966. Each “new” generation used extensive aspects of the previous generation. It’s likely the oldest “platform” still in production anywhere. And not one likely to be the basis of a new generation of US RWD cars.
Common sense trumps the rumor mill, as usual.
My memory of Ford’s plans are quite different. In about 2008 or so, Ford did announce that they were planning/considering developing a completely new RWD platform in Australia to be used both there and in the US. The existing AUS Ford Falcon platform was widely accepted to have become too geriatric since it went back to 1988 (EA Falcon). It had no real future, especially in the US. Building it for the US made no sense, since it was almost as old (1988) as the Panther platform itself, and of course smaller in pretty much all key dimensions. I can’t even imagine how it would have fit in Ford’s US lineup other than a specialty vehicle, like the GTO/GT8 did for GM. But the Holden platform was substantially younger, and more easily federalized.
But that plan was soon dropped, for a number of reasons. It would appear that Ford saw the writing on the wall, that there was no real future in Australia for RWD car. In 2008, the Falcon was down to the #15 selling car in retail sales.
More likely what you read was this plan of Ford’s at the time to develop a completely new RWD platform to be used both in AUS and the US; the one that was cancelled.
I wrote about the impending crash of the domestic Australian industry and the very weak retail sales of both Holden and Ford at the time here:
Paul, it was worse than that, the 1988 EA platform was an evolution of the 1979 XD series. The extremely high cowl structure is a giveaway of its age.Considering the XD was developed ultimately from the 1960s Falcons, it brings in some serious questions on how much money and time should be spent on such an old platform.
On the other hand, it has become the automotive equivalent of Grandpa’s axe!
The Falcon architecture had essentially morphed into “right-hand-drive only” and would have taken a near complete redesign to be able to accommodate LHD and RHD. Plus, large RWD sedans are a declining segment, and to succeed one would need a real “wow” factor like the 300 and Charger did.
The last models (from about 2009 I think) must have been planned for LHD export at some point as the firewall is stamped for both LHD and RHD. Provisions for steering, brakes, etc are on both sides. No other previous models to my knowledge were like that. So at some point they must have thought about exports.
Glen; and with a bit of digging, it’s quite clear that the XD is anything but completely new. In fact, there never was a totally “new” Falcon, inasmuch as the 1966 XR (essentially the US ’66 Falcon) used a lengthened and widened version of the 1960 falcon platform.
Every Australian Falcon since 1960 (or 1966, depending on one’s POV) is evolutionary. There was never a “new” Falcon series that didn’t carry over a substantial portion of the previous one. It is truly a living dinosaur, and just about the oldest platform still in production.
We need to do a post on this subject….
True Paul, although the 2008 FG carried over only a couple of small pressings which must be close enough to all-new surely? It is also the one more often incorrectly described as a facelift than any other, perhaps because Ford had given a hint of the new styling with the last facelift of the previous generation.
I have an idea to do a post on the rise/fall/rise/fall/rise/fall of the Falcon to follow on from Aaron Severson’s excellent histories on Ate Up With Motor, but like his articles it will be a lot of work.
jz78817; I’m not sure if there was anything that prevented a LHD version of the 1998 or 2002 Falcons from being built as they were ‘protected’ for LHD (nothing existed that would obstruct it), but certainly all the 2008 Falcon needed was the LHD-specific parts. The only reason it wasn’t done was that Ford Australia did not have access to any LHD markets.
John, What interests me in particular is just how the Falcon evolved, technically speaking, inasmuch as it is unique in the world, for being continuously evolved for 50 some years without there ever once having been a completely “clean sheet” new generation, although as you say, in the case of the FG, it may not be much actual steel carried over. But even then, what was carried on is the basic dimensions/size/concept of the car. The Falcon never once went through a significant downsizing or conceptual change, like going to FWD. And of course, there’s the 4 L six, also a direct evolution of the original Falcon six.
As the Falcon comes to the end of its remarkable life, a more detailed look at just how precisely it evolved, and how much of the original Falcon roots are still present, would make a very important and significant article.
All of the articles I’ve seen don’t really focus on that aspect; they’d have you believe that there was a series of totally distinct and new generations.
There’s simple nothing like it in the US; it would be as if today’s Fusion was a direct evolution of the 1960 and 1966 Falcon. The closest thing was of course the Panther, which ran from 1979 through 2011.
The XD was a reskin of the XC, the XE was a more updated model getting the watts link rear end, the EA updated from that.
All of them had to share their doors with the short-wheelbase versions, possibly wagon version, amirite?
I haven’t seen any of them in the metal so it’s hard (or easy) to say from behind my laptop screen, but to me it seems they all suffer from the same problem the fancy Holdens have: they look too much like brushed up versions of more pedestrian models and, for the more modern models, they have to combine the sleek aero basic lines with anachronistic broughamness. Seeing that the EA/B Falcon was visually deliberately similar to the Ford Scorpio and the like, it begs the question: would a Merkur Scorpio Brougham have sold?
Correct about the shared doors. Also from the XA series on, Falcon wagons were built on the Fairlane wheelbase. That made for a spacious wagon, and helped them get more volume from the LWB floorpan tooling.
For the first generation of LTDs (P5, P6), the wheelbase was further stretched to 121″. Later LTD’s reverted to the Fairlane wheelbase. originally they had their own nose and tail treatment, but by the late nineties you had to read the badge to tell the difference.
Yeah the stretch is behind the rear doors everything that could be shared was.
The P5/P6 LTD got a special long rear door, when the body was face lifted it kept the mildly veed waistline of the P5 to help differentiate the LTD from the Fairlane.
The fill panel behind the door was the same between the Fairlane and LTD.
I think the idea was the Fairlaine would be owner driven, while the LTD would be more likely to be chauffeur driven, so a longer door would give better access for the VIP in the rear.
From working in AutoGlass for many years, the Falcon and Fairlane/LTD’s shared front doors and windscreens, the Fairlane/LTD’s rear doors (at least from the EA’s onwards) were shared with the Falcon wagon to get the squarer shape and accommodate the opera window.
Fasinating stuff William.
Whenever I look at cars like these, I see visual similarities to many European cars.
For example, 1972 Falcon and 1971 Cortina
1976 Fairlane and 1972 European Granada doors and roof line.
1979 Fairmont and 1977 European Granada
Also clear is the platform sharing and continuity. For example the doors on both cars from 1992 to 1998 are common, with an extended wheelbase on the Fairlane.
And I agree that the interior of the last cars looks pretty good.
What is the green van next to the 1972 Falcon?
Similarity between the Falcon and the Cortina? When Ford Australia produced them in the same paint and trim colours it was really marked! Could you buy a Cortina L trimmed like this in the UK? Copper Bronze with grey vinyl roof and saddle trim.
Roger, if you mean the green van next to the red LTD with the white vinyl roof, that’s an XB Falcon van with the GS pack.
You may not have realised Ol Pete but Australias MK3 Cortina is Australian its quite different to the UK CKD Cortinas more prevalent in NZ but of course as usual we got both so they have been compared close up which one was best is debateable there were problems with the UK models here especially when subjected to rural rep use Ford UK apparently never envisaged them spending most of their lives on corrugated gravel roads and designed the suspension accordingly so it breaks things and eats bushings and control arms at quite a rapid rate, you also missed out on the terribly gutless models with only a 1300cc engine, the 1600cc OHC is bad enough.
Roger- the green van is a Ford Falcon panel van and they were a popular vehicle in Australia.Holden also made panel vans prior to the release of the Commodore.Panel vans were popular among the surfer set,throw your boards on top and your wetsuit and a double mattress in the back,pick up your chick and head for the waves.Vans were commonly referred to as “shaggin wagons”.
Dad called them “finger bowls”!
Thanks William for sharing this history and great collection of pictures. I’m getting better with my knowledge of Australian cars, and this helps a lot.
It’s too bad that we didn’t get to experience some of these designs in the States. The mid-Eighties and early-2000s Falcon, Fairlane, and LTD were particularly attractive. The rear of the 1996-1998 Fairlane is horrible though, IMO. I also love that ’76-’79 LTD though. I’ve never seen it before, and it’s a shame we never had it in here. I’m sure those round headlights would’ve attracted a lot of buyers.
The 1998-2002 Falcons and Fairlanes weren’t well received. I can’t remember who or which magazine called the Falcon “ugly as a hatful of a**holes”, but a few months later when the Fairlane was released, they said “we’re going to need a bigger hat!”
One Australian motoring journalist after reviewing a Fairlane,humourously wrote “never mind the quality,feel the width”.
AU + awesomely ugly, and now if you can cope with looking at one they are awesomely cheap at least in NZ they are.
Good overview. A few minor things. The P5 and ZF/ZG were not just cosmetically different. As also with the P6 and ZH, the LTDs had longer wheelbases and different rear doors.
And there was, of course, the ZA/ZB Fairlane; the first to receive a unique-to-Australia design…
The 1976 Falcon had more than detail changes too: new front sheetmetal, bumpers front & rear, new doors, new dashboard, new crossflow cylinder heads to cater for the new emissions regs.
As someone who grew up in a state where fracking was once widespread….why do you suppose the companies involved refuse to divulge what chemicals are used in their “cocktail” of harmless chemicals? My guess is that their legal departments learned from the lawsuits lost by cigarette companies that for DECADES claimed smoking was not harmful. In other words: if you can’t link your cancer to fracking, you can’t sue us…much less win.
But to the story here: as a fan of the Blue Oval I became very interested in non-U.S. models after they started appearing on E-bay. Though it’s mostly the 80s on models from the Australian side that I prefer while the 50s and 60s Canadian models “do it for me”.
Did any other “mainstream” car manufacturers ever use the Ford Australia “8 light” design? (And successfully, I might add.)
My mother still owns a very good 77/78 Ford Fairlane Marquis,she and her second husband bought it new.Always garaged,gas/petrol,white with a tan vinyl roof and tan leather interior.I like the look of it and drove it once.A large wide car, not much legroom in the back seat considering its dimensions.Impressive performance and a smooth ride.
I think a big part of what made the Fairlane/LTD successful (as well as rival Holden Statesman) was the high import tariffs and luxury car taxes in place at the time. Comparable American and European cars were probably too expensive for prospective buyers due to high taxation, and the Aussie built luxury offerings provided a more affordable alternative. Now that the tariffs have been lifted significantly, it must have really dried up the market for cars of this ilk. No?
I’ve owned 3 Aussie falcons over the years, but my experience with Fairlanes is limited to taxi rides. The Fairmont Ghia (tarted up Falcon) could be had with all the luxury of a Fairlane minus the extra rear leg room, and at a much lower price. It has been a lot of fun watching Holden and Ford create so many variations from a single platform, and on a relatively tight budget, but the later model Fairlane and Statesman look like oddly-proportioned hack jobs. If only the rear doors were just that little bit wider.
My favourite’s of the bunch are the ZD & ZC series, with the US Fairlane inspired stacked headlights. Don’t let the brougham gingerbread fool you into thinking these cars were all about marshmallow performance. You could order a ZC Fairlane with the same performance specification as the Falcon GT, with the high compression 4V 351 V8, GT brakes, steering, and suspension. This transformed the Fairlane into something of a gentleman’s muscle car.
I think sales of the lwb cars were fatally declining well before the tariff reductions bit; a lot of buyers in rural areas shifted to SUVs, in urban areas the length of the Fairlane/Statesman hurts in parking and I think there the extra snob appeal of the Euros would have come into play once they stopped putting black plastic bumpers on the cars (mid to late 90s). The Statesman/Caprice was only kept alive because of the Middle East exports.
Options in the early days were impressive, I have seen 4-speed ZC Fairlanes. Later the LTDs always had the 4-bbl V8 too.
If I were in the market for a late 1970’s car with American looks but without the hindrance of the ugly 5-mph bumpers and emission-choked V8 engines, an LTD Town Car from Australia would be my ‘car of choice’.
Seeing them all together here makes me think that Ford AU would have been so much better off if they’d just added some wheelbase length to the Falcon and called it a day. A lot of these grille, headlamp and trim choices are really unfortunate… I can’t think of one that I’d call an improvement over the lesser cars, although I’d need to compare a similar post on the Falcon/Fairmont. Maybe the late ’60s/early ’70s models that carried over the stacked headlamps from the American cars of a few years earlier, but that’s a tough comparison for me to make. The contemporary Falcons were good looking cars from what I know, I just really love that mid-’60s style.
One of my other favorites is actually the incredibly dowdy ZJ Fairlane. Motor Manual may have thought it looked American, but I see a U.S.-spec Datsun Maxima with a 351 Windsor shoved under the hood, and that’s pretty cool. I also really love the BA/BF, all versions. The G220 seen here looks particularly good. I prefer that face to the XRs with the recesses in the front bumper. Was it possible to get a regular BA/BF Falcon or Fairmont with the XR6 engine, manual transmission and the same wheels seen on the G220? That would be my own personal ultimate Aussie Ford.
Here’s another one I really like, in fact perhaps even more than its Falcon equivalent – the NL Fairlane Tickford. The regular NL does nothing for me with that wacky chrome grille, but this one masks it off and makes a world of difference:
The wheels, no, but there was a manual transmission version of the base XT trim in the early years of the BA. SUPER rare and good luck finding one, but because it’s the base model (I.e., taxi-spec) they’ve depreciated like crazy while the manual XR6 commands a premium over the much more common auto. The non-turbo XR6 didn’t have a more powerful I6 than the XT anyway and was similarly-specified, so you’d be saving thousands and only missing out on sports seats and the nicer interior fabrics, as well as the stupid rear spoiler (that fades even worse than the exterior paint and yet can’t be removed without leaving dumb holes in the trunk lid)
Fair comment Sean, but a key factor was the Fairlane had to look different from the Falcon to help justify the price, and sales suffered when it didn’t. Usually the LTD had a less-contrived grille than the Fairlane, always a version of vertical bars, and on some models in particular (eg 1998-91) you would often see Fairlanes with the grille changed out. That Tickford Fairlane is very nice but very rare with just over 100 built.
William, I think the wheels (or a very similar version) were available as an option, because any V8 XT Falcon had them. You could get those with a manual too, however it wasn’t a great choice because the low-down torque was lacking and the redline was only 5200 rpm.
XR6 is a trim package in the later series only the early Tickford XR6s had any performance enhancements.
Interesting that in the very top photo of the blue ZH Marquis ,which I assume is a factory photo, has the small V8 badges on the front fenders, that the previous Fairlane and Falcons had
these never appeared on production versions .
My favourite Australian Ford Fairlanes are the ZF Fairlane and the ZH Fairlane.
My favourite cars are the XY and XB Falcon, and the ZF and ZH Fairlane. I also like the first two versions of the LTD. Don’t ask me why, since I’m not from Australia, nor do I live in Australia or New Zealand.
I owned a XY and several XBs I just like the look of them mechanically all the 71 untill 75 are the same Ford AU upgraded the suspension components for the 71 XY model but retained the US body and reskinned the black metal in their own styling for the 72 XA then fixed some of the rust problems with the XB facelift.
I had a ’76 P6 LTD, almost identical to the one pictured, except that it had a black vinyl roof rather than the silver. Had the nicest interior of any car I have owned, the same red velour as in the pic above, extremely comfortable. Sold it when I got my Cadillac back in 95, wish I had hung on to it. Had the 4V Cleveland 351 in it, went pretty well after I put a Holley 4 barrel and extractors with twin exhausts on it
I also like early Ford Australia LTD.
This is a nice overview of these cars. Being from California, I’ve always been fascinated by them. I have driven an EA Falcon GL and ridden in a couple of NL Fairlane Silver Service cars. The Falcon was a pleasant surprise, even though it was rather basic (and had power windows only in the front, very odd to those of us in the US). If Ford had imported the XR6 or XR8 BA Falcon, I’d be driving one!
I have been a passenger in a limo version of the NA Fairlane back in the nineties which was the fourth generation series and might I saw was rather impressed.It is what picked me up from the airport to take me home when my parents could not do that job as they had to work that morning.Great Condition for an eight to nine year old car from memory and after a week in SINGAPORE and putting up when not using the MRT in little Toyota or Nissan Cabs or an Uncle’s Honda for the most part it was great having all that room.something I haven’t had in a four door large saloon in years since we sold our W126 280SE Mercedes way back in 1992 and after a 380SEC bought used downsized into a C Class bought new only 18 months earlier in late 1996.
That 1973-76 P5 LTD has an interesting rear side light. I found more pics online of the parts, both in and out of the car, and it takes two bulbs and is configured to provide both a red rear side marker light function and an amber rear turn signal repeater function—which also means the amber bit would light up when the car’s in Reverse, because the back-up light function is provided by steady-lit operation of the rear turn signals. No reflex reflector, though, of either colour.
The Australian 1969 VF Valiant had a similar setup.
Picture number eleven. What are those levers on the console?
From memory, I think they were the heater and air conditioning controls, repositioned for easy reach. Luxury means not having to stretch, I guess!
By the wide dogleg on the P6 LTD and others, Ford was pulling a page from the 1950’s-’60’s GM extended quarters and deck playbook for their upscale offerings.
Thats exactly what they did Fairlanes got some extra wheelbase and interior space.
GMH tried just lengthening the boot/trunk for several years but the inside didnt gain any room only the rear overhang did, making it more vulnerable in reverse angle parking regions like rural NSW.
On one view, this is what happens when you leave an entire industry under cloak of protection for years on end – strange things grow under there.
Mind, I love all of them, as they were the posh versions of what the rest of us drove, and had – gasp, the excess! – velour seats and power windows (a/c often optional), which nothing below their level much got. (To explain, Oz GM/Ford/Chryco car specs were always peevishly mean by any US standard). They were big and flash, usually with rather large-gutted, loud and narrow-opinioned male owners to match, and said that the owner had done alright for themselves (for the US, that means made some money in their time).
But until the last version, a properly decent machine complete with the LS Lincoln/Jag S-type rear suspension, they were in truth as crude as their owners were likely to be crass. They sold at prices inflated to match the tariff-struck Euro imports, and whilst you got a lot more metal and flash for your money than those, the metal was thinly stretched and rattly and the flash was largely cheap plastichrome. Ironically enough, they all went on to prove their worth over the Euros, whose higher-strung finnickiness (along with sparse service centres for them in a vast land) could not cope well with long distances in heat and dust, despite all being of inherently higher quality.
In the end, the only market buying them was the government for the politician’s rides, hardly a source of confidence for the private buyer, to put it politely.
But I miss them, despite the con that they really were. Big, fairly tough, stupidly roomy, sometimes handsome, they have a large nostalgic pull.