The Ford Fairlane planners could have followed a couple of paths to create a new type of car they had in the works for the early Sixties. When the first true intermediate arrived, it was clear that from concept through to execution, the folks in Dearborn had played everything right down the middle.

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1962 Ford Fairlane
Built to fit in between the ever-enlarging standard-
size cars of the early Sixties and the then-new
domestic compacts, the Ford Fairlane appeared to
be a fresh type of car when it debuted in 1962. See more classic car pictures.

Rumors, by their very nature, tend to exaggerate. When journalists and industry experts first began to speculate about an all-new midsize Ford, thoughts immediately leaned toward radical themes. After all, Chevrolet went wild in 1960. Wasn't it Ford's turn to pull off a comparable coup? If you're going to create a new-size car, it may as well be a standout across the board.

In 1959, when Ford issued the compact 1960 Falcon, it turned out to be shapely enough, but wholly conventional in nature. In that same season, Chevrolet went the full-radical route with its rear-engined, air-cooled Corvair. That decision actually gave Ford a large leg up on its perennial rival, as Falcons outsold Corvairs by far.

1964 Ford Fairlane 500
The 1964 Sports Coupe hardtop was the top of
the premium Fairlane 500 series.

Wouldn't this be a good time, then, for Ford stylists and engineers to be thinking futuristic? Perhaps they could glance over Ford's "dream car" crop of the past few years for guidance in plotting a blockbuster for the early to mid-Sixties.

No such luck. When the bigger-than-a-Falcon, smaller-than-a-Galaxie Fairlane debuted for 1962, unabashed practicality oozed out of every pore. Not until mid-1964, when the Mustang debuted, would Ford offer a small car people desired to own instead of one they felt they should own.

According to Motor Trend, Ford relied on its "intensive consumer research program," which, except for the Edsel, "seemed to pay off for them." By the end of the Fifties, research suggested a market for an "in-betweener" model somewhere betwixt the gradually growing standard Ford and the upcoming compact Falcon. (Don't forget these were the days when American Motors was thriving quite nicely on the strength of its Rambler Six/Rebel, which fit almost smack-dab between the 100-inch-wheel-base American and the 117-inch Ambassador.)

For a while at least, Ford was destined to have the heart of a brand new market all to itself. Chevrolet released the Chevy II in 1962, but it was compact in its dimensions -- and far more conventional than the revolutionary Corvair. No true challenger from Chevrolet would arrive until the debut of the Chevelle in 1964, the same year GM's "senior compacts" from Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick grew into genuine intermediates. Standard Dodges and Plymouths were downsized for 1962, but their sales fell well short of Ford's, and it wouldn't be until 1965 that the Mopar makes clearly offered three sizes of cars. The Rambler Classic was actually a large compact and even with a wheelbase boost in 1963, it was still smaller than a Fairlane. Even the Fairlane's short-lived companion car, the Mercury Meteor, paled in comparison.

Continue to the next page to learn all about the 1962 Ford Fairlane.

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