I woke with a start and a splitting headache. Looking around, everything seemed somewhat surreal and I had no clue as to my whereabouts. Trying to coax my brain into action, I doused my face with cold water. The best indicator of my location was right there at the drain, but I did not notice.
Thirsty, and feeling as if I had eaten a bale of cotton, I went to the refrigerator. Opening the door was a similarly bizarre experience. A 2 liter (2 liters – really?) bottle of beer and it was called a Stubby of all things. I was thirsty and, as they say, any port in a storm.
Turning on the television only prompted further confusion. What was this show, Hawaii Five-O or Benny Hill? It seemed to be both and McGarrett was driving a Lincoln Mark IV that was right hand drive! Weird.
Enough of that; time to turn the channel. Relieved, it was that old favorite of mine, 60 Minutes. Hey, who is this George Fungus? Where’s Mike Wallace and Morley Safer? Regardless, this report about the fleshy menaces on the beach was enough to make a person either go see for themselves or stay away.
Forget the television; I needed to go for a walk outside to clear my head. And what do I see as soon as I walk outside?
The surreal vibes were staying fairly consistent. I had to look closely – this car was as much a Ford product as old Edsel himself, but it seemed to be such a combination of various different components and unique trim. Examining these various components, a somewhat familiar looking gentleman walked up. He called himself Don.
“Yes, in a way. But what is this? It’s so familiar, yet so foreign.”
Don laughed. “Mate, from the sound of your accent, it makes me wonder which of the three of us is the foreigner!”
Listening to him, Don had such a friendly lilt in his voice, the same as George Fungus. I confess: “Okay; don’t tell anybody, but things seem half a bubble off this morning. Seriously, I haven’t been drinking that much.”
“Drinking is good for you; it kills off those low performing brain cells and makes you smarter. Why do you keep looking at this Fairlane?”
I was getting confused. First thing’s first. I had no clue where I was but didn’t want to sound too wacko too quickly.
“I have never seen a Fairlane quite like this. The Fairlane sedans I am accustomed to seeing look a bit different.
“This one looks some like a Fairlane from some angles but the trim around these stacked headlights brings to mind a 1965 Ford Galaxie.
“Looking at the old girl’s rear, it’s different–it looks like Dick Teague breathed on it. But the Fairlane 500 script is right there. I want to say this is a Canadian model, but the steering wheel is on the starboard side.”
Don smiled. “Stranger, what you have here is a ZC Fairlane; it’s not Canadian, it’s Australian! These ZCs were built from July 1969 to November 1970.”
I’m relieved. “It’s Australian! How the heck did…”
“Mate, we have a long history with Ford around here. And yes, we did get unassembled knockdowns from Canada but we built this car here. Before we built our own cars, we found being in the British Commonwealth allowed us to avoid import tariffs. Having cars come straight from the United States would have been pricey and you blokes build the cabins backwards.
“We often got the bubbles and squeaks from the car companies. Our 1958 models looked a lot like the ’55s from the United States,
“And our 1960 and 1961 Fairlanes were simply 1959 Fords from the United States with some trim changes.”
I was amazed. “So did you have any input on the design?”
Laughing, Don said, “Mate, we often have to improve upon what others have done or just improvise. In 1934, Lew Brandt developed the ute since banks wouldn’t loan money for passenger cars. When the Ranchero was introduced in the U.S. in 1957, it was old hat for us.
“We also had U.S. Falcon designs starting in 1960. When we introduced the XP, we made a bunch of modifications. In fact, Ford Australia took five of them around the You Yang facility in Victoria, driving them for 70,000 miles at an average speed of 71 mph. Two of them rolled over, but still finished–they’re a bloody tough car. This ZC is pretty much a Falcon with a wheelbase stretch of five inches so the passengers out back have more room. Even the doors are interchangeable.”
Finally starting to have some sense of familiarity, I asked, “What’s under the hood?”
“Hood? Isn’t that the sheila from the fairy-tale? You must be talking about the bonnet.”
“Yes, the bonnet. What’s she packing?”
“Standard Fairlanes got a six-cylinder of 231 cubes; the 500 like this one got a 302 V8 as standard issue as well as disc brakes. This ZC also had an option for a 351–that big mob of an engine is 5.8 liters for us metric types. Air conditioning was also available for the first time on the ZC. Weird, but the previous ZB got a vinyl roof option but no air; that’s like getting tarted up without changing your underwear.”
“The ZC was also the first car in Australia with a factory fitted sunroof.”
Don is certainly knowledgeable about Fords. From the sound of it, Ford had a much better naming system than did Holden. Pick a letter followed by an “A” for the first series, then go to “B”, and so on. How logical; explanation of its naming convention certainly doesn’t require a cocktail of nonsense and periodic tables as does the Holden Monaro. However, the Monaro name does impart more auditory titillation than does Fairlane–life is full of trade-offs.
Talking to Don a bit longer, I finally ask him my biggest burning question: “Where in the world am I?”
“Jason, you and your wife came to Melbourne for the Moomba Festival. You really hit the turps; don’t you remember?”
Like an engine that cannot decide if it wants to start, something in my brain catches and it all floods back to me. No more Bundaberg Rum for me; I don’t care how much alcohol helps clear the brain of unproductive cells, Old Bundy doesn’t play well with me.
(Another hearty thank-you to Mr. Don Andreina for providing the photos of this amazing ZC Fairlane; he is truly a man of good taste.)
I drove one of those in green for a while it was a cheapie with nearly no rego and not a snowballs chance of getting a roadworthy but it ran great 302 auto the AC was dead crank windows no vinyl top. It got from Bowen in Nth Qld all the way to Newcastle NSW and died from transmission failure being unregistered by then and very unroadworthy the front suspension was shot it wasnt worth fixing so was towed to a wrecking yard for final taps, I guess they got something for the motor it was fine.
Nice car ! .
I hope he doesn’t make a habit of parking it over grass , that’ll rust out the floor pans quickly .
With reason I parked my Mercury Tracer (Ford Laser in Australia) for about 12 months on the grass aside of a forest. The floor stood in one piece, no traces of corrosion. This Fairlane is exciting…
Nice car,the rear panels look a lot like my Vauxhall Cresta PC.I saw a blue one in Fleetwood at the tram terminus a few years ago.A few RHD Falcons came to the UK but Fairlanes must have been much more expensive as I only remember seeing the blue one.
“the rear panels look a lot like my Vauxhall Cresta PC” – that’s not really a compliment, is it? 🙂
I like PC Crestas,one of my favourite cars.I had 2 happy years from mine.I’d have another if I had the time space and money.
What I find so interesting is trying to decide if the Aussie version changed more than it left alone or vise versa. I can understand commonality, but then why all of the detail changes, some of them fairly major. On the other hand, I can understand catering to a local market – but then why leave so much of the Yank version un-edited? A mystery.
I can understand your being surprised by that Bundeberg rum. I wouldn’t have expected such a nasty bite out of that friendly looking polar bear either.
The trim on the 58-61 cars came via the Canadian Meteors didn’t it?
The tailights on the VC look familiar too, could they be from a US station wagon?
Both series appear to use the Meteor grille and side trim. I think the earlier series also used the Meteor wheel covers with a gold star on a black disc.
Comonly known as the Star model Ford NZ only had them 55/56 without the Meteor grille.
Thanks for posting, I’ve never seen one. Initial reaction was a US ’66 Fairlane restyled by AMC as a prototype for the next generation Ambassador…..then I noticed right hand drive!
My thoughts exactly. It really does look like Dick Teague copied it for the Ambassador.
Ahaaaa! Something exotic. Love those Fords (and Chryslers) from Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Canada… Mostly because they look different, and usually better than the US ones. Especially since they never had to put massive bumpers after 72. It’s like a parallel universe where Detroit got its styling right. More please!
“…Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs Invasion, Lawrence of Arabia, British Beetlemania, Ole Miss, Jon Glenn, Liston beats Patterson…”
Thanks a lot Jason, I’m going to have that Billy Joel song in my head the rest of the day! 🙂
Brilliant and I like your choice of elixirs. The Stubby was the predecessor to the very firm, yet flaccid ‘Hobart Mhuddy.’
The Falcon ad is classic, I guess all Australian men have two beautiful girlfriends that enjoy being together with their man! Darwin Stubby beer is a great name, wonder if the beer is also.
NT draught yeah nar never liked it I was always amused that Aussies consdider 2Litres a large beer Kiwis at the time would buy a crate of 2L flagons(5) each for a night out only 5% grog though aussie is about 4%
interesting material, and nicley told. A good edition the pantheon of knowledge!
Thank you. This has truly been an experience in researching things formerly unknown to me.
“The best indicator of my location was right there at the drain, but I did not notice.”
You didn’t notice because the notion that water spirals down the drain the other way ’round in the southern hemisphere isn’t true. It’s just an urban legend, mate.
Very nice piece, that Fairlane definitely looks like it came from a slightly different version of our universe. Having grown up in the American sixties, just looking at it is vaguely unsettling.
I just love these alternate universe cars from Australia/New Zealand, South America and Mexico. Some of them are far better looking than the US models, others not so much but still fascinating…..
Keep these articles coming 🙂
Stone the flaming crows! Some seppo emptied the esky and ran off with pics of my Fairlane!
Nice Jason, next time you’re over, we’ll go Jackarooing.
I would love to; I just need to get a passport!
Watch “Wake In Fright” before deciding…
I still have a stash of Bundy ‘Black’ from a trip to Brisbane 12 years ago (I had 4 bottles in my suitcase). And stubbies! I remember stubbies… I visited the Bundaberg distillery; imagine an olympic-sized pool full of warm molasses…. I also remember a lot of the Utes and 4wd vehicles had those engine snorkels that follow the a-pillar to roof level.
Brilliant humour Jason, I laughed all the way through – fave line: “you blokes build the cabins backwards.” I may shamelessly steal that for future use 😉 Rode in one of these ZC Fairlanes back in 1990ish – the father of one the Scout troop had one and chauffered some of us to camp one day. It impressed me as a big, comfy effortless cruiser.
Great write up! One of my favourite Aussie fords as well. I moved to Melbourne in 2012, and my first day in the city was during the Moomba Festival. It was a great introduction to a wonderful city!
So much effort to make the car look just a little different from the US version.
Must be a week for crazy dreams. Had one a couple nights ago where I looked out the window and there were about 6 classic VW bug converts in my front yard.
The front clip is shorter than the North American because it uses Falcon parts, including the bonnet. Only the fenders are unique.