Good as gold

by Larry Dargis . Apr 26 2016
LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSThe 1966 Ford Fairlane.

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The 1966 Ford Fairlane.

Ford’s new intermediate arrived in dealer showrooms in 1962 carrying the familiar Fairlane name. The Fairlane, first introduced in 1955 as a top-of-the-line series for the full-size Ford, gave way to the Galaxie moniker in mid 1959 and became a mid-level series on the ’60 and ’61 Ford. With the growth in full-size cars through the ’50s, the Fairlane as an intermediate, was compared to the dimensions of the ’49 through ’51 Fords that had appeared a decade earlier.

While proportions were roughly the same, the new Fairlane was noticeably lower in height over the shoebox Ford. The Fairlane evolved through the early 1960s like the rest of the Ford line, not only growing in size, but it also became a player in the performance market.

Completely restyled for 1966, the Fairlane was longer, lower and wider. It also featured new front and rear suspension and a larger engine bay to house the optional big-block V-8 engines. The GT model was available on the Fairlane 500 hardtop and convertible and was fitted with bucket seats, floor console and special GT badging. If buyers opted for an automatic transmission over the four-speed manual gearbox, the nomenclature identified it as the GTA.

In 1966, 4,327 convertibles and 33,015 hardtops left the factory equipped with the mighty 390 cubic-inch, 335 horsepower GT V-8. With a manageable 116-inch wheelbase and weighing in at just over 3,500-pounds, the Fairlane was now capable of low to mid 15-second quarter-mile times at more than 90 miles per hour.

For Dennis Atamanchuk of Winnipeg, a mid-’60s Ford Fairlane has always been a car he wanted to get his hands on. In the spring of 2013, Atamanchuk found two 1966 Fairlanes. One, a hardtop, had been previously restored and was in driveable condition. The other, a convertible was just a shell. Many of the parts were there for a restoration, including new bumpers, but it was a real project car.

“I did some work to the hardtop and drove it for a summer, while working on the convertible,” says Atamanchuk. “After selling the hardtop I got going on the bulk of the restoration on the convertible.”

Hooking up with friend Mick Delisle, the parts were sorted, fitted and the necessary bodywork taken care of. For the paint, Atamanchuk entrusted Rani and Jason at Head Turnerz Restoration in Selkirk to lay down a brilliant Nassau Blue metallic paint job. The new bumpers were installed and the balance of the brightwork was refinished by the Chrome Pit and Alberta Plating. The trim is a combination of chrome-plated pieces, aluminium and pot metal or grey metal pieces, (such as the GT 390 hood louvers), that took many hours to restore.

For the interior, Omar Gautron at Omar’s Upholstery in Fannystelle supplied the ivory white and sand beige vinyl material. Mitch and Chris at AMA Glass & Trim stitched and installed the custom interior, along with the sand beige convertible top complete with a glass rear window. The upholstery features some unique GTA cresting and the bucket seats have been modified with added bolsters in the base and lumbar areas for greater comfort. Factory gauges were replaced with period-correct Stewart-Warner Green Line series gauges, and a new JVC four-speaker AM/FM CD player was installed in the dash. The factory bucket seats, centre console, wood-grain steering wheel, tinted glass, windshield washers, dual side-view mirrors and power steering round out the options list. For curb appeal, Atamanchuk chose 15-inch B.F. Goodrich Silvertown redline radial tires, mounted on styled steel wheels.

Powering the GTA is the original S-code 335 horsepower 390 cubic-inch GT engine, heavily modified for added performance. Machine work was carried out at Competition Engine Machine — the engine block was bored 0.040 and a special stroker crankshaft was installed to net a 445 cubic-inch displacement. Assembled by Mike Arsenault, the original GT cylinder heads were ported for added flow and have the larger 428 Cobra Jet valves installed. A high-lift hydraulic-roller camshaft works in unison with an aluminium Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and 650 cfm AED four-barrel carburetor. Fired off with the factory distributor converted with Pertronix electronic ignition, it dumps spent gasses into a set of big tube headers leading to a custom dual exhaust system, installed by Glenn Scott at Duals Exhaust. Cooling for the beast is handled by a new Champion three-core aluminium radiator. The potent powerplant is backed by a C6 three-speed automatic transmission, leading to a Ford nine-inch rear axle, fitted with a Traction-Lok positraction unit turning a 3.25:1 gear ratio.

First unveiled at the 2016 Piston Ring World of Wheels car show, Atamanchuk’s fine Fairlane is coming out for another viewing this weekend at the Manitoba Street Rod Association’s 17th annual Rondex Rodarama car show. Running today through Sunday at the East End Arena, this show offers a great look at many of Winnipeg’s finest rides.

For more information and show times see msra.mb.ca.

57ford@mymts.net

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSThe interior was updated with custom embroidered seats, new gauges and a modern sound system.

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The interior was updated with custom embroidered seats, new gauges and a modern sound system.

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSThe engine, originally a 390 cubic-inch big-block, was rebuilt and a stoker crankshaft was installed to net a 445 cubic-inch displacement.

LARRY D'ARGIS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The engine, originally a 390 cubic-inch big-block, was rebuilt and a stoker crankshaft was installed to net a 445 cubic-inch displacement.