Being the author of the ultimate sales success story of the s Ford can be forgiven for their lapse. Since the Mustang could be ordered in fighting trim with the K code or as a Shelby there was no immediate panic to duplicate the GTO formula. The secret of the GTO was that it provided everything the youth market wanted from a tire frying car.
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It was a moderately priced exciting performing image car that was useful as a daily driver. Eventually ponycars would become musclecars but at this period the intermediate cars were the fastest inexpensive cars coming out of Detroit. Kids wanted those 'supercars' that could trounce most typical 'ponycars'. Ponycars may have weighed less but that advantage was lost because ponycars couldn't readily fit big blocks underhood and the stylish short rear over hang necessitated the use of a single transverse rear muffler that choked off power. Ford wasn't unaware of the potential of the intermediate platform and in fact created a mind bending vicious muslecar with the limited production special drag racing Thunderbolt Fairlanes.
The Thunderbolts cost the factory quite a bit of money for each one built. For the model year Ford went after profitability. Unfortunately these Ford intermediate musclecars were caught in catch-up mode in a maketplace dominated by the GTO. Despite competing with the Chevelle SS , the natural inclination is to compare the Fairlane or any musclecar for that matter with the dominant seller: the GTO.
The youth market was awash in Pontiac's tiger imagery. GTO mania had become deeply entrenched by The GTO for had evolved into the 'coke bottle' style with sweeping rear C pillars which left the Fairlane looking 1 year behind. It could be argued that the Fairlane was just catching up with the Ford Galaxie's stacked headlight styling or simply that most cars from any particular model year share basic structural design regardless of make.
But it is hard to avoid the fact that the Fairlane bore a strong resemblance to the GTO with stacked headlights and a tightly squared off body. The hood scoop style was a two sided ornamental grille insert which seems to have inspired the design used on many Chryslers. At inches, the wheelbase on the Fairlane is 1 inch longer than GTO which shared its wheelbase with the Chevelle. The Chevelle was actually closer in size to the Failrlane. The Fairlane is inches long. Fairlane weight at 3, pounds is close to the GTO. The 4 barrel Ford engine is just 1 cube larger than the in the GTO.
Like the GTO engine, Fairlane offered a lot of chrome plating underhood. Fairlanes received chrome valve covers, air cleaner, oil filler cap, dipstick and radiator cap. Extensive promotion of the Fairlane was needed to even just catch up to the GTO. The Fairlane name did have familiarity, being well established with a longer history than the Tempest name. Fairlane had been around as a top trim version of the full size Ford since Fairlane became an intermediate size car in which was 2 years before the Pontiac Tempest became an intermediate.
The marketing of the Fairlane musclecar wasn't nearly as intense or ubiquitous as that of the GTO and also lacked years of focused build up. The Fairlane message was however clear and simple to comprehend. Where things went ground to a halt for the Fairlane was a lack of optional 'step-up' engines.
Where's the numbers? ( 67 Fairlane GTA )
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