FD Ford Fairlane (1963-64)
The assembly of the Ford FD Fairlane began in late 1963 for release in April the following year. The FD was the third iteration of what are commonly known as the “intermediate” Fairlanes.
From 1959 to 1962, the Fairlane model had been the largest car that Ford produced. In 1962, it developed an intermediate-sized vehicle to fill the gap between its largest model, which was at the time the Fairlane, and its smallest, the Ford Falcon. The company decided that the Fairlane name would be moved over to the new midsize car and the larger car would be known, from here on, as the Galaxie.
Up until 1964, the Fairlane model had been assembled in Australia, but designed and produced by the Ford parent company in the United States. The FD model was the last American designed Fairlane, as the US company discontinued production of the vehicle line. The company intended to focus its attention on the larger Galaxie model which better suited the American market.
The FD model was the same as the US market Fairlane 500 four-door sedan and was never officially known as the FD. In North America, a lower specification Fairlane was also available along with wagon and sports coupe models.
In Australia, in the early 60s, the Fairlane was the largest and most luxurious vehicle Ford offered at the time. Though the larger Galaxie model was under production in the US, it would not be available until 1966. All Fairlane parts were produced by Ford in Canada and imported for assembly at Ford’s Homebush plant in Sydney.
The lack of tail fins on the FD model is the major aesthetic difference from its predecessor, the FC model. The new smoothed out rear end gave the FD a more contemporary look. Its front end had a revised grill with vertical bars and headlights that protrude out of the body.
Though the FD was large, at just over 5 metres, it was about a foot shorter than most other luxury cars on the Australian market. According to Ford brochures at the time, the car was designed to be spacious enough inside to fit a family of six.
Along with the new model came a new V8 engine option. The 260 cu (4.3 L) Windsor V8 that was an optioned extra with the FC model was now fitted as standard and a larger 289 cu (4.7 L) engine was also available. Both engine options came with automatic transmission. The 260 V8 was paired with a Ford-O-Matic transmission and the 289 with Ford’s Cruise-O-Matic. All models were fitted with 10-inch drum brakes both front and rear.
The cars were available in a variety of single colour or two-tone finishes, and were painted with what Ford called a new “Diamond-Lustre” baked enamel finish. The interior featured foam cushioned seats furnished in colour-keyed metallic vinyl. The upholstery had a leather grain finish and was inset with woven nylon cloth in four different colour combinations, as well as a red all-vinyl finish.
For comfort and to minimise engine noise, there were insulation and deep pile carpet from wall to wall. The accessories were quite generous for the time and included an electric clock, two-speed electric wipers and reversing lights, as well as armrests and ashtrays in the front and rear. The FD was the first Fairlane model to be fitted with windscreen washers as standard.
There were also quite a few additional safety features, including padded visors and dash, Ford’s “lifeguard” steering wheel, door locks that remained shut in the event of a crash, and safety glass all round.
In 1964, Ford Australia produced 1,344 units of the FD Fairlane, before it was eventually discontinued.
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