I’m continuing my series of original, low-mileage eBay/Craigslist finds which should be documented and preserved on Curbside. Today we present another first for CC, a 1960 Ford Fairlane 500 Town Sedan. This is another example of the kind of car that once was so familiar, and then one day, they all seemed to disappear at once. Well, here’s one that didn’t disappear. And it’s looking for a new home . . .
When these 1960 Fords were announced in late 1959, I think the public reaction must have been “Wow!!!” They were so big and sleek and low–and wide, and looked totally unlike previous Fords that people were all familiar with. Slogans like “A Wonderful New World of Fords” and “Finest Fords of a Lifetime” were actually believable. This is the height of “Populuxe”: cars (and other products) with luxury features and prestige, but offered at low “popular prices”. The epitome of the “More car for your money” concept, i.e. “A big, cheap car!”
According to Ford copywriters, “The lines are beautifully new but not extreme in any way.” That’s true, but for me, the most polarizing aspect is the front grille design–yes, it works, but I’m thinking the ’60 Edsel grille might have been a better choice.
This is a Fairlane 500–the “middle” line: above a plain Fairlane, but below a Galaxie. It somehow manages to be radical and conservative at the same time. It strikes me as the kind of car Dennis the Menace’s dad, or Hi from Hi & Lois would drive.
This is the view that is most familiar to me–cars of this period all have distinctive rear styling. When I was little, out riding with Mom and Dad, it was easier to notice cars ahead of you in traffic. So I had all these favorite shapes in my head–the 59-60 Fords and Chevys, the ’65 Ford, ’60 Olds, the 60-61 Comets–lots of others. But I never knew what these cars actually were (year, make, model) until years later.
“See the way the hood slopes? Really graceful!” said Tennessee Ernie Ford in a Ford TV commercial.
“. . . and no more knee knockin’!” beamed Ernie. “The windshield post slants forward, as it should!” That’s right. First the industry sells us the wrap-around windshield as a bold new “advance”, then congratulates itself by taking it away! Advertising copywriters can get away with anything.
“Fairlane 500”. I love “automobile script”. These emblems always seem to perfectly exemplify the era in which they were produced.
“500” on the gas filler door. Neat!
There are five wing-shaped ornaments on the rear fender in place of last year’s four. “How many board meetings do you think there were to settle the question of how many to put on?” commented my high school history teacher, Mr. Shoemaker, as we pored over Tad Burness’s American Car Spotter’s Guide in the school cafeteria, circa 1984.
COLOR: code C = solid “Skymist Blue”.
Silver and gray interior (which you might expect to be boring) looks jazzy and sharp to me. A good complement to the Skymist Blue. Across the wheel in big letters:
P O W E R S T E E R I N G
This car has POWER BRAKES too.
I would call this dash design “Space Age Lite”. It’s got that futuristic flair, but it’s far less elaborate than the 1960 Mercury and Lincoln dashboards. I like the way it echoes the smiley mouth/half moon bumper-taillight motif.
If you didn’t order an electric clock, you got a brushed aluminum delete plate: FORD (with a crowned shield) to remind you what kind of car you’re driving.
One knob = the cheap heater, not “Magic Aire” with its two levers and a blower switch.
Yep–41,883 miles. Fordomatic–2 speeds !
And “Mark IV” air conditioning. Look at those chrome knobs. See how nicely everything was made in those days?
I consider these door panels and handles to be a Space Age work of art. It looks as though we’re approaching light speed. Wooosh!
These seats look all-original, and they’re in great shape! Lots of room in here, but compared to previous Fords, you sit pretty low.
This appears to be the smaller 292 cubic inch V-8. I would choose the smooth, quiet, and powerful 352 Interceptor V-8. Even so, the small V-8, power steering and brakes, A/C–this would make a nice cruiser.
Unlike most collectors, I have an admiration for the small, standard hub caps. I like the sparkly full wheel covers too, but there’s something honest and authentic about the standard caps that many people despise. (I hate the names “poverty caps”, “dog dishes”, etc.) These plain hubcaps show care in design too: note the FORD lettering and little stars picked out against flat black. They also show off the rims painted in matching body color. And blackwall tires–more cars from the ’50s and ’60s were on the road with blackwalls instead of whitewalls than you might expect.
So I’m glad I found this well-preserved 1960 Ford. 900,000+ full-size ’60 Fords were produced, but finding an original, unmolested example in the early 21st century is not so easy. When they came out, Consumer Reports panned them: “large and cumbersome”; “workmanship not up to the level of the ’59 Fords.” Like contemporary Mopars, they tended to rust out early, so by 1970 most ended up like this Beechwood Brown victim in the middle of the pile, unloved and ultimately doomed:
That’s my take on the ’60 Ford. If anyone is interested in 1960 Fords, Falcons, Thunderbirds, or trucks, I recommend picking up a copy the Buyer’s Digest of NEW CAR FACTS for ’60, published by Ford. Try looking online for a used copy. There are a lot of fascinating pictures, articles, and charts inside. There’s even a coupon with Lee Iacocca’s signature on it! (1959 and 1961 editions were also made).