1966 Ford Fairlane 500 Ranch Wagon

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Originally Sahara Beige, now a bit lighter
8 Cylinder
  • 1966 Ford Fairlane 500 289 C4 auto, power steering but no A/C.

    I recently wrote a short article for the Fairlane Club of America, outlining the history of the wagon as best as I could put together. Enjoy.

    'I found my wagon for sale on an auction site here in Australia. I’d been looking for over a year for a wagon, simply as they are not as common and ‘run of the mill’ as the 2 and4 doors of the Aussie muscle cars. I hadn’t even considered a US import until this one showed up. The seller had it listed as an Australian Fairlane but my interest was piqued as they never released Fairlane wagons here in Australia. One of the biggest things I was looking for in my car hunting in general was originality and completeness and I wanted a car that I could drive straight away and do things as time (and more importantly money) permitted.

    The only thing the lovely wife wanted was ‘strip’ style speedo and bench seat, and this car had all of those things covered. As wagons are usually family workhorses and can be roughed up a bit as such, I was really impressed with the way that this one had been treated throughout her life, likely a result of the first owner who had the vehicle from new until around 2002.

    It was for sale less than an hour away from home, and I watched it for a while on the site, until a drop in price was enough to make me want to see it. A bit of discussion with the seller and the lovely wife and we all got to a point where we were happy, me probably most of all!!

    My plans for the car are to simply bring it back to as close to original as possible, with the very limited resources I have for these wagons based on the other side of the world from where they were made. I am fortunate that there are a ton of Mustang parts in the aftermarket for engine/trans/and chassis parts, and there are a lot of parts for Aussie built Falcons/Fairlanes that will suit too in terms of suspension etc. I don’t really want to talk about panels, particularly wagon specific ones!!

    There is lots of interest in cars of this era and particularly a very uncommon wagon such as mine. Whenever I take it a workshop, I’ll always ask the guys if I can watch them work so I can learn more about it. The car is on a restricted registration program linked to specific clubs, and these club guys are a wealth of knowledge and facilities to work on the car which is really helping.

    The car is a great highway cruiser and gets along nicely with the 289, although it is a little tired and could do with some love. A major spend like that is a fair way off in terms of $$ and I’ll drive it for as long as I can as is. It will never be a show/concourse car but I want to focus on getting it back to as near new as possible, so there is lots of interior detailing to do like re chroming of plastics, dashpad/arm rests etc first.

    I’ve done some digging about the history of the car purely out of curiosity. She was still wearing her original issue (1963 stamped Black/Yellow Californian plates) and have dealers book showing it was sold by Hollywood Ford (6125 Hollywood Blvd, owned by actor Ben Alexander from Drag Net) on 8 January 1966 to an owner south of Central LA. He owned it right up until 2002, as amongst the other bits of paperwork there was a for sale ad printed out from an internet site with a name and phone number that matched the original owner. It was listed for sale by original owner at $3500, showing 252k miles with a rebuilt engine/trans and now based in Pico Rivera. I suspect that having just one owner for such a long period in the cars early days attributes to the great condition she is in.

    After that, there are rego documents for 2 different owners all in California all in the LA area. I can't be sure that they are the only other owners but I'm pretty sure based on the dates. I have registration card for the next (2nd) owner from 2005 in Huntington Beach. I’ve entered this addresses on Google Maps, I can see the wagon parked in the driveway of this 2nd owner both in 2008 and 2011, who then passed away in 2012. After that I have some receipts from 2013 and a registration card for the 3rd owner from 2014 based in Anaheim. It looks like it lived all its life around LA/Huntington Beach, before it was shipped to Australia out of Long Beach near the end of 2014.

    Without the benefit of Marti reports being available on 66’s, I started doing some research on the car itself to try and find out more about it. I have a theory that being a 289 auto wagon, it wasn’t ever the target of someone wanting the engine/trans for a 2/4door like if it was a 390/4 speed combo. The door plate build date is 21 M (December 65) in Sahara Beige and parchment trim and so far all the components of the car match up to that. The engine still has the tag attached and it shows a build date of 5 M (Dec 65), the power steering pump has a tag for 66 Fairlane (non AC) and the build date for that is 5 L 8 (Nov 8 65), the intake is 5 L 29 (Nov 29 65).

    All the glass is original except for the windscreen, the wheels are M 5 stamped, and all the chassis and panels that have stamps are all around Nov/Dec 65 which makes it as close to matching numbers as possible, and certainly close enough for me. It has a closed door respray at some point, and is currently a bit lighter than the original Sahara Beige. I’m doing my best to determine whether it came with a 3rd row seat, but again with no Marti, I can’t confirm. I have found some details of the seats, and plan to fabricate one for it one day. Of the 19826 500 wagons made as far as I know it’s 1 of only 2 in Victoria, with the other one being Wimbledon white with blue interior. It was bought into the country by the same guy who brought mine in, a few years prior to mine coming in. I’ve spoken to the current owner of the other wagon, and we are hoping to meet up for a photo shoot of the ‘twins’ sometime soon. I’ll be sure to get some pictures made available when that happens.

    Thanks for reading my story, feel free to check out my instagram @66fairlane500wagon for more pics of #acarcalledheather and others from the Aussie car scene.