ZA Ford Fairlane (1967-68)
The ZA Fairlane is a luxury four-door sedan and was the first of the Ford Fairlane models produced specifically for the Australian market. The Ford Fairlane had been on sale in Australia since 1959 and all previous models were designed and produced in the United States simultaneously. Australian models were assembled in Ford’s Homebush plant in Sydney from parts imported from Canada.
The previous three models, the FB, FC and FD, had been intermediate sized vehicles, filling the gap in the Ford lineup between the smaller Falcon and larger Galaxie models. Ford Australia discontinued sale of the American designed Fairlane and designed, engineered and produced its own model that better fit the Australian market.
For the first time, Ford Australia started producing the Fairlane bodywork locally at its Campbellfield and Eagle Farm facilities rather than importing from overseas. This freed up the Homebush plant for the production of the Galaxie model which had been assembled in Australia since 1964 and sold only in limited numbers. Earlier Galaxie models had been available but were imported pre-assembled and then converted to right-hand drive.
The ZA Fairlane is a uniquely Australian design made up of the rear end of the US Fairlane and front end of the XR Falcon. In fact, the ZA looks almost identical to the Falcon from the front except for the Fairlane’s unique grill, badging and twin headlights. The ZA has a wheelbase that is roughly 5 inches longer than that of the Falcon at 116 inches and a wide 58-inch track.
The ZA’s rear end is from the 1966 US Fairlane model. It has larger rear quarter panels than the Falcon and a chunky, squared off boot. Comparatively, the 1967 US Fairlane model has stacked twin headlights and square fender tops, and is much more reminiscent of the Galaxie model of the same year.
The release of the ZA saw two variants of Fairlane available for the first time, namely a standard Fairlane model, known as the Custom, and the more luxurious Fairlane 500. Previous models had only offered the more premium Fairlane 500 variant. The major difference between the two variants were the engines. The standard Fairlane was fitted with a 200 cu (3.3 L) six-cylinder unit, whereas the Fairlane 500 came with a 289 cu (4.74 L) Windsor V8.
The ‘289’ Windsor V8 could be optioned on the standard model Fairlane. In 1967, it was marketed as the ‘Mustang V8’ and the first models of Ford’s legendary Mustang were produced in the same year featuring these engines. The standard Fairlane came with 3-speed manual transmission as standard and the option of Ford’s Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission. The Fairlane 500 model was fitted with the 3-speed automatic transmission as standard.
The Fairlane 500 has some minor cosmetic differences from the standard Fairlane, including the thick chrome strip that ran the length of the vehicle’s sides below the doors, as well as a vinyl roof option. The 500 came with power-assisted disc brakes up front and power steering which were not included with the basic model.
The ZA Fairlane had colour matched interior trim and vinyl upholstery with perforated fabric to allow the material to breathe on hot summer days. The interiors were accented with walnut veneer and spacious enough to seat six people comfortably. The Fairlane 500 model featured individually adjustable seats, fold-down front armrest, extensive sound deadening and wall-to-wall carpeting throughout the passenger compartment, as well as reading lights, indirect floor lamps and even an electric clock.
Standard equipment in both Fairlane models included dual horns, 2-speed heater demister, alternator rather than the old style generator, windscreen washers and reversing lights.
From March 1967, Ford Australia built 8,814 units of the ZA Fairlane, before it was replaced with the ZB Fairlane in March 1968.
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