ZC Ford Fairlane (1969-70)
The ZC Fairlane arrived in mid-1969 as a facelifted version of its predecessors the ZA and ZB. The ZC looked significantly different though with the front end being boxier and less contoured than the earlier models. Ford’s Australian design team chose to orientate the twin headlights vertically rather than horizontally as they had been in the previous models.
The ZC was more reminiscent of the American Fairlane and Galaxie models, while the previous models had shared a close likeness to the Australian produced Ford Falcon. The ZC model’s front end featured a square flatter look as the front guards had to be extended to fit the stacked headlamps. Complementing the look was a double-sized, recessed grill with a large horizontal divider.
The ZC Fairlane was a luxury vehicle and considered intermediate in size, falling between the smaller Falcon and much larger Galaxie models in Ford’s lineup. Though the Falcon and Fairlane models were both manufactured and assembled in Australia to a large degree, the Galaxie was imported from Ford in Canada and assembled from kits or imported pre-assembled and then converted to right-hand drive.
The ZC Fairlane was available in two different models, the Custom and the Fairlane 500, which was the top-of-the-line luxury model. The Custom was the base model that could be optioned with a choice of accessories and mechanical upgrades, hence the ‘Custom’ name. At the time of introduction, the price for the Custom was just $3,734.
The ZC was the first Fairlane model to be offered with a choice of three different engines. The Custom variant was fitted with a 221 cu six-cylinder engine and the Fairlane 500 came with Ford’s Windsor 302 cu V8 as standard. There was also the option of a larger Windsor 351 cu which could be specified on either the Custom or 500 variants.
The use of the Windsor 351 engine would last for this model only and future Fairlanes would be fitted with Cleveland V8s, including the smaller 302 units. The 351 Windsor ran a four-barrel carburettor and was capable of producing 290 bhp. It was the same specification engine fitted to the XW Falcon GT.
The ZC was also the first Fairlane model to be available with 4-speed manual transmission. The Custom was fitted with 3-speed manual transmission as standard, while the Fairlane 500 was optioned with Ford’s Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission. The standard manual transmission and automatic controls were mounted on the steering column, but for the first time, Ford also offered floor-mounted 3- and 4-speed manuals with a T-Bar shifter.
The differences between the two Fairlane variants were quite significant. Aside from having a larger V8 engine and automatic transmission, the 500 model also benefited from power-assisted disc brakes on the front end and power steering.
Inside the passenger compartment, the differences are also noticeable. The Fairlane 500 was fitted with bucket seats in the front, while the Custom was fitted with a more conventional bench seat. The 500 was optioned with woven panels to make the seats more breathable on hot days, while the Custom had all vinyl upholstery.
The Fairlane models had a comprehensive list of standard features as they were designed for maximum comfort. The cars featured large fold down armrests in the front and rear, deep pile carpeting and extensive sound deadening throughout. They were also featured keyless locking and individual lights for each passenger and compartment.
The list of optioned extras increased significantly for the ZC from the previous models. Functional items such as air-conditioning, rear seat belts and tinted windscreens were available, alongside luxury items, including vinyl roofing in a choice of black or parchment, and remote controlled wing mirrors.
From July 1969, Ford Australia built 12,513 units of the ZC Fairlane, before it was replaced with the ZD Fairlane in November 1970.