Down memory ’Lane





Ford’s first Australian-built flagship

IF YOU wanted variety in your motoring in the 1950s, you needn’t have looked much farther than your Ford dealer. During that decade, prior to the arrival of the Falcon in 1960, Ford was assembling the little Pommy-designed Prefect, the mid-size Zephyr, the bruising big Customline and, from 1959, the flagship V8-engined Fairlane in its brand new Broadmeadows plant.

That full-sized model was replaced in 1962 by a downsized model (the FB/C/D, destined to be known as the ‘compact’ Fairlanes), again sourced in kit form from the USA. These were augmented in 1964 by the Galaxie, but Ford Australia was by now a manufacturer gaining ground with its Car of the Year-winning XP Falcon. What it really wanted was a locally built flagship.

The springboard was the substantially new XR Falcon, introduced in September 1966. It had a longer wheelbase, a wider footprint, 14-inch wheels and, for the first time, an optional V8 engine in the form of the imported 4.7-litre ‘Windsor’.

In creating the ZA Fairlane, launched in February 1967, Ford were able to extend the wheelbase to benefit rear passenger space. panel behind the rear door shutline. designers were forced to retain the XR’s (expensive) doors, but The stretch was betrayed by the Fairlane’s wider “hockey stick” Apart from its quad-headlamp grille and bolt-on chintz, the Aussie Fairlane was identical to the Falcon from the A-pillar forward. However, the ZA’s much elongated tail section was pure 1966 US Fairlane, with early cars using imported rear panels until switching to local manufacture. As with the curvy, Coke bottlehipped XR, the styling and US-sourced V8 engine endowed Fairlane with some of the marketing shine from the gangbusters Mustang.

Engine choices were much as for Falcon, a 3.3-litre inline six or optional Windsor V8, the latter standard with a three-speed auto. An even better equipped ‘Fairlane 500’ version, most easily identified by a chrome sill strip, copped the V8 engine as standard.

The XR underpinnings – good enough for the pioneering Falcon GT, remember – made the ZA Fairlane a decent drive. But its greatest appeal lay in its strong value-for-money equation, and its half-arsed (well, huge-arsed, but standard wheelbase) rival in Holden’s hurried Brougham.

The Fairlane, built for just 12 months as the ZA, continued its momentum through the facelifted ZB and stacked-headlamp ZC (’69) and ZD (’70). Production ended in 1972.

Fast & factual05


Home run Home run The ‘Fairlane’ badge came from the name of Henry Ford’s Dearborn estate, Fair Lane, in turn named after an ancestral home in Ireland 2 Quick flick Quick flick Look really quickly in the 2002 Aussie retro mobster flick Dirty Deeds and you’ll spot a ZA Fairlane

In detail

Bit of a stretch

CHASSIS was pure XR Falcon, with the wheelbase stretched by 127mm to 2946mm. Rear legroom benefitted by moving the rear seat aft. Suspension was upper balljoints, wishbones and coils up front, semi-elliptic live rear. At 4981mm long, Fairlane made more of an impression than the Falcon. Likewise on the road with its 1345kg (1485kg for the V8-engined ‘500’) kerb weight.

Mustang power

FIRST ZA Fairlane launched with the Falcon’s familiar 3.3-litre six, making 90kW/258Nm, with manual or auto, and the 4.7-litre ‘Mustang’ V8 (149kW/382Nm) standard with Cruise-O-Matic column auto. Facelifted ZB upped capacities to 3.6 and 4.9 litres; ZC upped the six-pack to 4.1 litres and added the hefty 5.7-litre ‘351’ (216kW/516Nm) as an option.

Sheer luxury

CIGAR-chomping company bosses wanted for little in the top-line ZA 500 (pictured). While the 6cyl Custom copped a front bench, the 500 had reclining buckets, lush carpet, fake woodgrain dash, rear reading lamps, moody footwell lighting and optional ‘built-in’ radio. In ’67, base Custom sold for $3080 and the 500 V8 for $3885 (versus $2421 and $3340 for XR Falcon equivalents).


Cheat sheet

Despite what was believed at the time, all ZA Fairlane panels were interchangeable with either a ’66 US Falcon or Fairlane, including the hubcaps


Screen stars

Ford Australia was very active in supporting television in the 1960s – think XP Falcons and Homicide – so the Fairlane got a good airing


What a year

Other big Aussie news in 1967: Prime Minister Harold Holt disappears; Ronald Ryan hanged; Falcon GT wins Bathurst; Mark Skaife born

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