FB Ford Fairlane (1962-63)
The Ford FB Fairlane was introduced to Australia in 1962. It was the first of the compact Fairlane models and was almost identical to the American market Ford Fairlane 500.
The Fairlane range had been in production in the United States since 1955 and had undergone a rapid series of changes, with Ford releasing an updated model roughly every two years. The heavily chromed and curved mid-50s design had become much sleeker by 1962.
In the US, the Fairlane bridged the gap in the Ford range between its smallest model, the Falcon, and its largest, the Galaxie. The luxury Galaxie model wouldn’t be released in Australia until 1967, so for the first half of the 1960s, the Fairlane was Ford Australia’s top-of-the-line model.
Aesthetically, the Fairlane has more in common with the Galaxie models of the same year than the much curvier XL Falcon model of 1962.
Ford Australia had been importing the Fairlane models from Canada since 1959 and assembling them locally at Ford’s Homebush plant in Sydney. The early Fairlanes were full-size cars and, originally, the Galaxie badge was applied to the top of the range Fairlane models. In 1961, the Ford parent company in the US decided to rename the full-size cars as the Galaxie. The company moved the Fairlane name over to new intermediate sized models that it was developing at the time.
The Fairlane was named after the Fair Lane estate in Dearborn, Michigan, which was owned by the Ford founder Henry Ford and his wife.
There were a few different models of Fairlane available on the US market, including a standard sedan model, Fairlane 500, a two-door coupe and two different wagons. With the previous models, Ford Australia had offered three different variants, but the FB would only be available as a four-door sedan.
To give an idea of the size difference between the cars, the XL Falcon, which was also released in 1962, was about 4.6 metres long, while the FB Fairlane was nearly 1.5 feet longer.
The FB body was of a unibody design that was fairly new to Ford models of this era. It featured torque boxes, which connected the inner frame rails and inner rocker panels together. They were designed to minimize body flex over uneven and potholed roads.
The FB came with a 3.6L 221 cu Windsor V8 engine, which was, according to Ford, the world’s first economy V8. This was the lightest and smallest V8 engine of its time due to its thin wall design, and it could run on regular fuel rather than premium. It was capable of outputting 145 bhp, but was phased out after only a year due to lack of demand.
The transmission options were fairly limited with Ford offering either 3-speed column mounted manual transmission or 2-speed “Fordomatic” automatic. The manual transmission was standard and the automatic was an optioned extra. The FB models came with 10-inch self-adjusting drum brakes.
Ford brochures from the era stated that the car “takes care of itself” and needs maintenance only twice a year. This was because of the new nylon bearings that required lubrication less often, self-adjusting brakes, full-flow oil filtering system, galvanized underbody, door panels and enamel finish.
Although the car was considered intermediate, it is still quite spacious inside. The interiors were trimmed in two-tone vinyl and instrumentation is simple, with a speedometer and gauge clusters, which include oil pressure, fuel and indicators.
In 1962, Ford Australia produced 1,632 units of the FB Fairlane, before it was replaced with the FC model in 1963.