1962 Ford Fairlane

The first 1962 Ford Fairlanes, initially offered only in two- and four-door sedan guise, were aimed at the everyday-transportation end of the market spectrum. Lee lacocca, named general manager of Ford Division in 1960, had some bold ideas in mind for the company's future, but they weren't yet under way in 1962. Two trim levels went on sale: the basic line and an upscale Fairlane 500. A gussied-up two-door sedan, the Fairlane 5UU Sports Coupe joined the group a little later.

1962 Ford Fairlane
The 1962 Fairlane's styling and dimensions would
have been familiar to anyone who'd shopped for a
Ford in the preceding 10 years.

Essentially an enlarged Falcon riding a 115.5-inch wheelbase, Fairlane fell between the compact Ford and the full-size Galaxie in both price and size. Dimensions were similar to those of the 1952-1954 Fords, in the eyes of Motor Trend, except that the Fairlane was not as tall and measured nearly three inches narrower. The Fairlane name had been used on standard-size Fords from 1955 through 1961.

This new mid-size Fairlane had more leg room than a 1952-1954 Ford; more shoulder room, too, but slightly less hip space, front and rear. MT dubbed the Fairlane's interior "simplicity without austerity." Instruments sat in three round housings, shrouded to cut down on reflections.

The 1962 Fairlane 500 two-door sedan
The 1962 Fairlane 500 two-door sedan was one of
two 1962 Fairlane models initially offered.

Compared against those early-Fifties cars, "improvements are undramatic," the magazine said. "A lot of the refinements cannot be measured by a ruler -- they include easier, quieter and smoother operation, plus probably a degree of greater durability."

At a glance, the new unit-construction intermediate retained a host of design cues that made it easy to identify as a Ford. Bodyside trim, taillights, and even the canted mini-tailfins appeared to be borrowed from previous Fords as far back as the 1957s. At the same time, Fairlane had just enough of a personality of its own -- a special spark -- to shine above the Ford pack.

Some of that spark could be found under the hood in the form of a distinctive new small-block V-8 engine that made its debut in the Fairlane and Meteor. With the standard Ford's six getting on in years and the base 292-cubic-inch V-8 deemed too heavy and thirsty for the planned intermediates, engineering chief Harold McDonald successfully lobbied management to approve development of a new light, compact power plant. A team under the direction of George Stirrat was handed the $250 million budget allocated to the project.

The narrow-block, short-stroke engine Stirrat's people created displaced 221 cubic inches. It put out 145 horsepower at 4,400 rpm while breathing through a two-barrel carburetor. The cast-iron V-8 used hydraulic valve lifters and an automatic choke. It met the design objective of a 450-pound weight limit in part because of its use of Ford's pioneering "thin-wall" casting process. At mid-year, the 221 was overbored by .30 inches to create an optional 260-cubic-inch mill good for 164 horsepower. (In its most exotic form, the little V-8's block design served as the basis for the aluminum engine in the Lotus-Fords that ignited the rear-engine revolution at Indianapolis in 1963.)

The small-block eight was optional in the Fairlane. Standard power came from the bigger of the two Falcon sixes, a 170-cubic-inch, 101-horsepower job that also used the modern casting technology. All engines had a new rear mount to reduce vibration and sound transmission to the passenger compartment. The standard transmission was a three-speed manual with a column-mounted gearshift fully familiar to Ford fans. Options included overdrive (for the 221 V-8 only) and the two-speed Fordomatic -- essentially the same choices offered on 1952-1954 Fords.

On the next page, find out what the reviewers had to say about the 1962 Ford Fairlane.

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