All Fairlane models could have power steering and power brakes, either factory- or dealer-installed. Those items were highly popular, and had brought many complaints from buyers of cheaper compacts who wanted such conveniences. White-wall tires were available in 6.50 or 7.00 sizes on a choice of 13- or 14-inch-diameter wheels. (The 7.00X14 tires came only as blackwalls.) Options included a 30-amp generator, tinted glass, two-speed electric windshield wipers, full wheel covers, a heavy-duty battery, and more. Brackets for seatbelts were installed in all models, even though the belts were an option.
The 1962 Ford Fairlane 500 pleased drivers
with its performance.
Car and Driver described its Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe with the V-8 engine as having "sprightly performance, even with the automatic transmission." Fairlane also offered "an inviting appearance" and comfortable ride, its "road shocks well absorbed by the limber suspension."
Road-testers at Motor Trend disliked the two-speed automatic transmission. Despite its smoothness, they believed "it doesn't take as full advantage of an engine's horsepower and torque curves as does a three-speed or four-speed automatic or manual box." Their automatic V-8 Fairlane with a "performance" axle ratio took 13.3 seconds to reach 60 mph -- not exactly awesome action. Testers noted that the "lively, well designed engine" had "plenty of potential for power increases," and they believed it could be "as big a favorite with the hot rod set" as the old flathead V-8 had been. Gas mileage was a prominent selling point, but the V-8 Fairlane with automatic averaged an uninspiring 15.5 mpg.
Though impressed by Fairlane's solid construction, as well as its ride and handling talents, MT considered its test car too big for its 13-inch wheels. However, 7.00x14 tires were available only as a police option. "On every type of road surface, from rough country to smooth freeway, the Fairlane gave a smooth, solid ride. It took some real pot holes to bottom the suspension." Despite noticeable lean in hard cornering, "the car sticks like glue and you really have to bend it to lose adhesion." Noise levels were among "the lowest we've encountered in any car."
Front-seat space was considered comfortable enough for three average-sized adults. Except for the two-speed automatic, the magazine's editors advised Fairlane "offers a rare combination of economy, satisfying performance, solid comfort and a high degree of quality that belies its low initial cost."
More than 297,000 Fairlanes went to first-year customers, helped by moderate prices. Just $2,154 could bring home a base two-door sedan, while the vinyl buckets-and-console Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe stickered for $2,403. Chevrolet did better with the Chevy II, but it offered shoppers a far greater variety of models and body styles from which to choose, and it had a price advantage by virtue of its being a smaller car.
On the next page, read about the 1963 Ford Fairlane.
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