(first posted 6/17/2014) If the front end of the ’65 Fairlane was its weakest element, the front end of the ’66 is undoubtedly its best. Note that I didn’t use the word “original”, as Ford was obviously channeling Pontiac with the jump to stacked headlights for their full-sized line in ’65 and the Fairlane in ’66. And the real thing (Pontiac Tempest/LeMans) was still a step ahead. But it was a breath of fresh air, and ’66 Fairlane sales jumped almost 50% over the ’65’s lackluster results. Now about that middle section.
Before we do that, let’s check out the back end, as it too is reasonably attractive, if not exactly stunning.
For 1966, Ford decided that the Falcon really wanted to be a shortened mid-size car, and had it share the Fairlane’s body, minus some inches on both ends, and an obviously shorter wheelbase at the rear, where the Fairlane is showing evidence of the stretch behind its rear door cutout. Or maybe the Fairlane is a lengthened Falcon? Which design looks more organic?
The Falcon ends up being the Studebaker Lark reincarnated, which also was a shortened mid/full size car. Except that the ’66 Falcon didn’t generate similar enthusiasm or a bump in sales. But that’s another story.
We’re here to celebrate this owner’s fine Fairlane, which has been burbling around my neighborhood regularly, driven by a young woman. I was a bit surprised to see that the 289 has been warmed over some, with the addition of an aftermarket intake manifold, an Edelbrock 650 cfm carb, and headers. It does make fine sounds.
It’s a clean machine, and has been re-upholstered in a fabric I see quite often these days. Not exactly original, but it works well enough.
I asked her if she wanted to be in the shot with her lovely Fairlane, and she agreed, somewhat halfheartedly. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten her name, an affliction of my encroaching senility. Amber? Whatever it is, enjoy your fair Fairlane, and I look forward to crossing paths again.
I recall reading that the 66 Fairlane sold very well, and in its traditional Ford-like spot: behind the Chevelle but well ahead of the Plymouth. Hindsight tells us that the Fairlane may have been the weakest effort of the three, but it is still a very attractive car.
Looking at the Falcon and Fairlane together, it looks like the Fairlane got a stretch between the A and C pillars as well – the Fairlane’s rear door looks a bit longer to me. The Fairlane of this vintage always struck me as a touch smaller than the 66-67 Chevelle and certainly than the 66-67 Satellite. I do recall doing some research that said that the Fairlane was a touch narrower.
In my high school years, there was a young couple who lived across the street. She was still driving the 67 Fairlane convertible that she had bought new upon graduating from college. That one was the same metallic beige color as the one that Officer Gannon drove in Dragnet. (Dirt Metallic?) Even at 10 years old, I found it an appealing car.
Some measurements with my architectural ruler here confirms that these rear doors are the same. The bodies on these two cars are essentially identical, except for the stretch in the rear wheel, just like Pontiac used to do with the Bonneville and Star Chief.
That’s an improvement on the 65.The Falcon looks a lot like a Mk2 Cortina
yes it does ..the Mk 2 Cortina was the only one of the Cortina lineage that didn’t ring my bells (2000 OHC Mk 3 was the one!!)
Agreed. Here’s my Mk 3.
A nice design that heavily channels the ’65 full size – a very Fairlane thing to do – copy the prior year full-size car.
JPC beat me to the Dragnet reference. It is on the METV line up this summer. I was going to ask if Jack Webb and Harry Morgan were in the house.
The Falcon lost its way being a chopped mid-size, but the three standard lines of Fords for ’66 all looked quite logical on the same show room floor. I believe ’66 is the year that the Falcon and Fairlane wagon became essentially the same car. They should have just cancelled the Falcon wagon. That car encouraged offering the “compact” as a stripper to differentiate it from the “mid-size.” The original Falcon ideal before the Mustang was to offer some premium versions. The loss of premium Ford compacts was not fully rectified until the Granada in 1975.
In 1966 Ford let the less expensive versions of the Mustang carry its banner in the compact market. Falcon hardtop coupes and convertibles were cancelled that year.
The rest of the industry followed Ford to some extent. For 1967, the Plymouth Barracuda line-up was expanded to include a convertible and a conventional two-door hardtop. Valiant convertibles and hardtop coupes were cancelled. Dodge, which didn’t get a pony car until 1970, kept the Dart hardtop coupes and convertibles in production.
Chevrolet had already eliminated the Chevy II/Nova convertibles after 1964, and then phased out the hardtop coupes after 1967. For 1968, you could only buy a Chevy II/Nova in two- and four-door sedan form.
Yes, Ford probably did this better than anyone else. The same basic car got a completely split personality – all of the young, with-it buyers picked the Mustang, and the Falcon was there ready to handle the hoards of librarians and tightwads who were ready to trade in their 1960-62 Falcon sedans. I don’t have the numbers, but I doubt that the 66 Nova did anywhere near the business of the Mustang-Falcon duo, and adding the Corvair was no benefit because there was almost zero parts commonality. The Barracuda tried to keep to the old formula and was a very competent “sporty compact”, but the Mustang obliterated that category.
A friend’s family had an early 1970 Falcon and I later had a 68 Mustang – both 200 cid 6 and a 3 speed. Other than the Mustang’s lower stance, they drove pretty much exactly alike.
If I recall correctly, the 1966 model year is the all-time peak for Mustang sales. I believe the car sold over 1/2 million units that year. No doubt combined Mustang and Falcon sales put Ford far ahead of Chevrolet and Plymouth in total compact sales.
The problem was that, as more competitors entered the pony car market, Mustang sales began dropping quickly. Meanwhile, Falcon sales were dropping steadily throughout the late 1960s, too.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, by 1969, combined Chevrolet Camaro-Nova sales were well ahead of combined Mustang-Falcon sales. Then, for 1970, Plymouth finally hit the jackpot with the Valiant Duster, which increased Valiant sales and actually propelled the division into third place for 1971.
The Mustang indeed hit over 1/2 million units and that year was also the year of the 1 millionth Mustang made. Ford beat out Chevy for the #1 sales spot. However the difference was only 5776 cars.
That year was the last year until 1970 that Ford beat Chevy. The year before(1965) Chevy sold a million units alone on the strength of the new Impala and cruised into the sales crown at over 2 million units.
I always thought the 66 Falcon Futura coupe was attractive. A high school classmate received a new all red coupe like this one for her birthday – it had the black bucket seat interior with the 289/auto. I’m sure she would rather have received a Mustang but the Futura coupe was a nice little car, worlds apart from a plain jane sedan.
Sharp, but not a hardtop, and a very conservative body. That made it a tough sell in a world awash in just slightly larger mid-size hardtops.
Chrysler figured that out with the ’70 Duster and took a disproportionate share of the compact market.
Valid points on how history unfolded, but it left compact wagon and 4 door buyers with penalty boxes. Imagine the early ’70s if the domestics had a more consistent history with smaller cars that people actually liked. That was a point that Paul was making the other day with the stripper Nova as a possible deadly sin. The reincarnation of the high trim ’62 Falcon sedan as the ’75 Granada was an instant hit. No small irony that it was on the Falcon platform. Ford walked away from the market it dominated for almost a 10 year span.
Chrysler also tried as a stop-gap move until the arrival of the ill-fated Aspen/Volare some dressed-up versions of the Dart/Valiant with the Dart SE and the Valiant Brougham and let’s not forget GM with some “BOP Nova” (Apollo/Skylark/Omega/Ventura/Phoenix)
True, but Ford pretty much killed the Falcon in ’66. Chrysler didn’t turn the U.S. compact market around until 1970. The BOP Nova didn’t get started until ’71 and GM didn’t put any real effort into them. Late ’60s domestic compacts were generally a lazy affair aimed mostly at the very bottom of the market. Ford was the worst in this respect.
The Dragnet theme came immediately to mind once I saw the pictures.
I remember detectives Joe Friday and Bill Gannon would toot around the San Fernando valley solving crimes in their Fairlane.
Also, my brother had a ’66 Falcon just like CA Guy, but it was all red (plain jane version). Only option was an automatic transmission. The car ran fine till my bother wrecked it!!!
Well, at least that’s much better than its predecessor, but you still couldn’t give me this over a Chevelle.
The Fairlane looks nicer than the Falcon, something about the lines and proportions. The rear end of the Fairlane may not be that flashy, but I still like it and wonder why the tailpipes stick out so far? Did the paint job look original Paul?
Interesting vehicle to add some juice to. I figured at first that you got the engine shot from the internet, Paul. 🙂
Surprised me too. :O
Those car will always be driver training cars to me, because at Westmont Hilltop High School the driver training car was that exact model, including color. Without the engine upgrades, of course.
We’ll still never forget the day one of the girls was driving, about 45mph, and the instructor told her to pull over and park it. So she immediately slammed the shift lever into park!
I’ve seen plenty of ’66 and ’67 Fairlane hardtops with the 289 high-performance callouts. They often tend to be XLs as well.
I’m taking what’s probably a minority view. I like the Fairlanes of this vintage better than the Chevelles of the same period, and better than the Plymouth Belvedere and Dodge Coronet. The Chrysler products are just too angular and square for my taste, and the Chevelles, no matter the trim level, are just too plain. I didn’t like those Chevelles when they were new, and I still don’t like them. The Fairlane 500 actually comes across visually as a top-of-the-line car much more equivalent to the Galaxie 500. (Being like an LTD would have to wait until 1970, with the Torino Brougham.)
In sedan form I think the Falcon actually looks more organic than the Fairlane. The Fairlane 2 door hardtop on the other hand? Gorgeous.
I concur, my thoughts exactly.
This model Fairlane and Falcon were immensely successful in Australia. Styling wise they simply blew away the local GM brand – Holden – products. The Fairlane became the default company car for upper-middle managers, a practice that lasted for 35 years. I recall they launched this model Falcon as the “Mustang bred Falcon” (a horse bred bird?!?). We did not have the Mustang here as a standard model, but in ’66 Ford Australia imported some Mustang convertibles (as few as 50 I think), converted then to right hand drive and sold them just to get some on the road to show the styling relationship to the Falcon. An early application of the “halo” car. This body shape, with updates, lasted until the 1972 launch of the XA model, an all Australian design but derived from various USA Fords. The Fairlane name plate lasted here until 2007 and you can STILL buy a car called the Falcon, but not for much longer. Local production of Fords will cease next year and GM and Toyota follow soon after. From 2016 there will be n car manufacturing in Australia whatsoever, which strikes me as a shame.
There were about 200 65/66 Mustangs imported and converted by Ford Australia.
I agree the Falcon was a killer move in Australia, being noticeably wider than the previous car and the Holden, giving much better room for 3-across seating. The last of the first-gen Falcons had the convertible floorpan bracing used across the range and this model continued along similar lines to gain strength. Ford Australia again did their own wagon plus the ute and panel van which now had a raised roof.
The 1967 Fairlane debuted with the RHD dash design based on the Lincoln, and effectively supplanted the full-size US car from the market. 1967 also saw the GT Falcon debut – that really made an impact with metallic gold paint, stripes and a bit of flair.
Maybe it would have been an opportune time for Ford to introduce a smaller car as the new compact (eg Mark 2 Cortina) with the 2.3L 4-cyl derived from the Falcon 6, and treat the Falcon/Fairlane as junior & senior intermediates?
Ford OZ claimed they stretched the local Falcon into a Fairlane having driven a 70 Fairlane 302 long distances in QLD one year and now seeing the US model I wonder if they didnt just RHD convert the original and change the taillamps.
The ’65 XP Falcon sales brochure made much of ‘torque boxes’ in the underfloor construction being added to stiffen the structure to give added strength and rigidity to that year model. I don’t recall that being a sales pitch feature of the previous year’s XM model however. The XP wagon in particular did seem to be a very strong load bearing vehicle for it’s size, and after five years (in our family’s case) of very hard use it still drove and tracked as it always had, without squeaks or rattles. I recall the very first Falcons did not fare quite so well on the down under back country pot-holed metal roads, and farmers quickly made their changes back to the good old Zephyr or Vauxhall.
Yeah Ford thrashed some XPs around You Yangs proving ground doing a years mileage in a week or some such stunt to prove they wouldnt fall apart going over the curb leaving the sales lot, for once it seems they got it right Ive been 3 up in a well worn XP ute with half a ton of gear in back at quite fast speeds on Aussie back roads that car held up ok and had already done so for 18 years before that owner bought it.
True about the early Falcons. Dad was a commercial traveller. He had an XL Deluxe, which was a nice car to ride in as a kid, but a maintenance disaster. I recall him getting the front end rebuilt twice before he traded it for an XR in ’67. So maybe his annual mileage and the roads he drove on weren’t typical, but he didn’t take it anywhere his previous Morris Oxford wouldn’t go.
I owned a purple!? base model with a 289. I could not have asked for a better family car! Other than a wonky fuel gauge, it provided years of reliable, if not spartan service in Canada’s far north!
You can’t really describe how much an improvement the ’66 Fairlane was compared to the ’65. Always a favorite, and I’ll take one with the 289 any time…preferably with a 4-speed. By the way…can’t help noticing your F-100 in the background. Old Fords never die. Their owners just find new ways to keep ’em running.
the fun model was the 66 fairlane gt and gta wth 390 high output beautiful in dark blue metallic paint and blue interior
I definitely agree that the ’66 Fairlane was a much better looking car than the ’65 model and I can see why many buyers liked that body style, for me I always thought they looked like a smaller version of the ’66 Galaxie rather than the ’66 Falcon.
I’ve always thought the 66 coupe was a very attractive design. Here’s a pic I took of my brothers 66 ( very humid day and the lens fogged up — kinda a cool effect ):
Now that’s much better. And, hat tip to JPC, it will always be Bill and Joe’s car for me. They’re on in half an hour – for now I’m enjoying season 1 Perry Mason, with Perry in a Black ’57 Skyliner, and his client sporting a ’57 Belvedere convertible.
I have both a 66 Fairlane 2 dr hard top and a 67 Falcon Futura. The above picture of the Falcon is actually a 67 not a 66. Yes I’m splitting hairs here as they are the same car except for small changes. The 67 had the louver depressions in the fenders, the 66 did not…
I prefer my 66 Fairlane over my 67 Falcon even though I love the Falcon.
The Fairlane is bigger and just has more style.
My Falcon is unique as it has a 200 cu in 6 but I added Tri-Power and a dual exhaust header 🙂 You just don’t see many Tri-Power Ford sixes. This one runs very well also.
My Fairlane has a stock 289 2V with single exhaust. It is a very quiet running and driving car.
I decided to sell the 67 Falcon. If anyone wants particulars please contact me.
dstolarc @ yahoo . com
A 650 carbs a little too big for a 289. She’d get better throttle response and mileage with a 500 cfm – and a spacer.
I thought so too. 500 sounds about right. I doubt it has HP heads, or even a cam. Maybe.
I’m running a Quick Fuel Slayer 600 on my Mustang’s 289 right now (just a little bit of extra cam, not much, headers, etc.). For a little bit, I ran an Edelbrock 500 on it and noticed no difference in throttle response. I kind of want to try a Holley 390, but they’re hard to find used and expensive new. I paid $280 shipped for the Quick Fuel, and a Holley 390 is about $440 new.
Night and day difference between the 66 and the ugly 65. The 2 doors really look sharp. The first thing that came to mind seeing this car was ‘just the facts, mam’. That car is in beautiful condition, looks like the engine work was done very recently. I like the cloth seats, so much more comfortable then the vinyl. I wonder if she plans to have it repainted, if so I hope she stays with the same color. Nice find.
Much nicer than the ’65, no question. Only real vice was the somewhat sketchy front suspension. Never could figure out why Friday and Gannon always drove around in one of these. In those days L.A.P.D. was Mopar country, and the department had a slew of ’66 383 Belvederes, both black-and-white and unmarked.
I wonder if the guys of Quinn Martin’s “The F.B.I” also driven some Fairlanes? The show was mainly with Galaxie/LTD and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Mustang used in the closing credits?
And here a 1967 Fairlane 2-door hardtop having a sad fate at the end of a car chase in an episode of “The Streets of San Francisco”.
There were two 4 door Fairlanes I was very familiar with and both had funny stories attached to them;
The first was a white one, don’t know what year it was, that a sort of friend of mine bought as his first car, it had a six in it, and was in really great shape. The first day he had it, he showed it to us and we weren’t exactly blown away by it, another friend bought a ’69 Charger, yellow with a black top, and we all liked it a lot better. And then it got dark, and he turned the headlights on as he was leaving, and the whole, entire bottom of the car lit up bright christmas light green! We had a lot of fun laughing at it, and he was majorly embarrassed and pissed off about it.It had a whole string of what appeared to be green Christmas lights strung all around the car. He disconnected it, but a couple weeks later, his older brother reconnected them and he was again, humiliated.
The other one was purple with a white top, I think it was factory, but maybe just a good repaint. It was owned by a neighbor who was the “burnout” of the block. He was famous for:
1. His huge head of blond hair.
2. His incredibly high pitched voice, like High Pitch Eric on Howard Stern.
3. His fear of dogs, which peaked when another neighbor’s huge German Shepherd chased him on his bike, and in his panic, he ran into his next door neighbor’s Buick 225. He flew over the trunk and landed on his ass in his own front yard. The dog grabbed him by the hair and was pulling him around while he screamed for help. She wasn’t trying to hurt him, she just wanted to catch and play with him. She was, and still is, the biggest GSD I’ve ever seen.
4. And his most famous thing. He was going to school one morning, and he pulled out ahead of me in his car, with his fellow burnout riding shotgun, He got to the end of our street, and without even slowing down, turned in front of a bus, which hit him, smashing the hell out of the Fairlane. There were two people with me in my car, and we couldn’t believe he ran the stop like he did, and even more amazing was he just kept driving! I followed him to school, but before we got there, a police car passed us and pulled him over. He was totally mystified as to why they pulled him over. The cops got him out of the car and when he saw the back of his car, he started screaming. He had no idea the bus had hit him! For the next couple of years, the back end was held together with bungee cords, and he swore he never felt any impact. I always asked him, “So what were you on that morning?” He would always deny he was high at all. Maybe it was just “residuals”. about 30 years later, he was on TV, talking about his house burning down, and I knew who it was just by the way he walked. Very ducklike.
Always loved these cars. At one time in my high school parking lot, there was my 64 Galaxie, a 67 Fairlane GT, the GT guys sister drove a 67 Fairlane XL, another guy had a 72ish Dodge Charger, and two 68 Fairlanes… all in 1989!!!
These things will scream with a 427 in them. I don’t know why didn’t I buy one when I had the chance.
I have a 1967 Fairlane 500 4 door sedan which is basically a warmed over 1966 model. It has the inline 200 six cylinder engine. Nice cars to drive and ride in.