To American film enthusiasts, the name Ford Fairlane is a reference to an obscure 1990 American action/comedy film directed by Renny Harlin and based on a short story series published in the 1979. However, classic Ford enthusiasts have a much different association with the name. In fact, many auto enthusiasts will tell you that the name of the film, and it’s main character, is actually derived from a line of vintage Ford vehicles produced between 1955 and 1970 with a unique place in collector’s hearts.
The Ford Fairlane line originated in 1955 to replace the Crestline as Ford’s premier full-size vehicle in the American auto market. The name was taken from Henry Ford’s estate in Michigan called Fair Lane. Originally, six different body styles were offered, all of which featured the iconic Fairlane stainless-steel body striping. The initial body styles included the Crown Victoria Skyliner which featured a tinted, transparent plastic roof, the Crown Victoria coupe which boasted a substantial increase in stainless-steel trimming compared to it’s standard Victoria coup counterpart, a convertible Sunliner, and simplistic traditional sedan.
The original design was quickly adapted by 1957 to reflect industry changes at the time. The new styling made the body wider and longer, with larger tail fins and a low wheelbase. The Fairlane 500 Skyliner was the first to feature a power retractable hardtop. Unlike most hard tops, the Fairlane 500 Skyliner’s solid top hinged and folded down into the trunk space at the touch of a button, unfortunately the top filled most of the trunk when retracted. While this made the model noteworthy and generated publicity, the feature was expensive and generated minimal sales. This second generation of Fairlane’s remain some of the most iconic in terms of 50’s styling and vintage appeal.
By 1962 the Fairlane line became Ford’s mi-sized vehicle offering, bridging the gap between the smaller Falcon and the full-sized luxury Galaxie, in order to compete with GM. Having moved out of the era of chrome, the Fairlane styling was updated to mirror the more boxy styling trends of the decade. As the muscle car market began to skyrocket, Ford responded with a Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt heavily modified for drag racing in1964. According to experts, less than 130 of these vehicles were ever produced, the first 11 Thunderbolts were released in “Vintage Burgundy” the remainder in white. Throughout the course of the mid to late1960’s the Fairlane began to embody sportiness both above and under the hood as it slowly morphed into the Torino series which would effectively replace the Fairlane in the 1970s.
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