Curbside Classic: 1963 Ford Fairlane Sedan – XL – Size Falcon; XS – Size Galaxie

(first posted 7/1/2017)   What made me decide to very belatedly share this ’63 Fairlane I shot back in 2011 or so? You may well ask. For some reason, I was randomly flipping through my notebook of all the cars I’ve shot,  wallowing in the memories and noting how many never got written up. And for some reason, this one caught my eye. And that was serendipitous, as it relates to how I spent part of my afternoon.

You all probably know the basic story of the new, mid-sized Fairlane that appeared in 1962. It was essentially a stretched and widened Falcon, with a somewhat heavier suspension, some aspects of which were apparently quickly adopted in Australia on their Falcon, as the original was a bit weak-kneed. The Fairlane is considered the first of the mid-size or intermediate cars, which soon became a major segment. But realistically, the 1956-1962 Rambler Classic was in that same category, even if it did sit on a shorter 108″ wb compared to the Fairlane’s 115″ wheelbase. The Rambler’s body was more upright, which allowed a higher seating position and thus negated much of that shorter wheelbase. It’s a subject of debate, so help yourself. And the longer wheelbase (112″) 1963 Classic was certainly an intermediate size.

What’s not debatable is that the Fairlane was not a suitable for a family of six, going on seven, as were the Niedermeyers during the time a black ’62 Fairlane sedan was their only family car and the torture chamber, in which they spent three days going to New York in 1964, and three more coming back. That story has been told here once or twice, and you probably know it as well by now as the Fairlane’s story.

Anyway, as the top photo makes clear, the ’63 Fairlane sedan got a new front clip, but not really anything else except for some revised trim. The new front end closely resembled the ’63 full-size Ford’s, thus making the family ties a bit closer than they were in ’62.

Other than that, there wasn’t much new, except an optional new 200 inch version of the six that now had seven main bearings and was an all-round improvement. That should have absolutely been standard, as the 101 hp 170 inch standard Falcon six was overtaxed. And it appears this is a six cylinder car, most likely with that 170 incher, as it’s every bit the stripper our ’62 was, except ours did have the mighty 221 inch V8 and two-speed Fordomatic.

This is the shot that when I saw it in my files made me think: aha! I need to share this. That’s because I spent a bit of time with the steering wheel removed from my ’66 F100, which is of course photobombing this shot. And it’s the exact same wheel, as far as I can tell, although actually mine is almost surely bigger. I had it off to replace the turn signal return cam, a plastic doo-hickey that has already broken once before. But this time my fix did not go well; it’s not working at all now, including the turn signals. I’ll have to wait another day, as tomorrow I spend all day cleaning and sprucing up one of my rental houses. And Sunday quite likely too. Oh joy!

This Fairlane obviously has the standard three-speed manual transmission to complement its stripper status. No radio either.

Well, the front clip wasn’t the only thing new on the Fairlane 500 coupe, which got a totally new hardtop roof that made it much more stylish than the glorified two-door sedan version in ’62. A 164hp 260 cubic inch version of the small block V8 was also available, and had been since mid-year 1962.

And sometime later in the year, the legendary K-Code 289 V8, making a wicked 271 hp arrived, along with a four speed transmission. Quite the lively combination.  And quite the contrast from the featured car.

The Fairlane was a pretty good seller in its first few years;  345k ’63s were sold, up some 50k over 1962. That would be the high water mark for some years, and helped Ford increase its total sales some during their doldrums in the early 60s. Oddly, there seem to be a lot more Falcon survivors than these early Fairlanes. They seem not to have ever become cool or hipster-approved, except of course the 500 hardtop coupe.

It’s a fairly clean design, although its not very compelling either. It’s the kind of car that just didn’t generate a lot of enthusiasm or passion, especially sitting on those teeny little 13″ wheels and tires. A Falcon that put on a bit of weight and size.


Related CC reading:
Vintage Car Life Comparison: 1962 Ford Fairlane V8 vs. 1962 Chevy II Six – The Old Ford V8 vs. Chevy Six Battle Updated, With Surprising Results