The 1964 Sports Coupe remained atop the 500
line that also included a four-door sedan and
Custom Ranch Wagon.
Carburetion was improved for all V-8 engines. A new automatic choke improved cold-weather starting, too. Fairlanes had self-adjusting brakes, electric wipers, and two optional safety items: seatbelts and a dashboard crash pad. No fewer than five engines were available, with a choice of six transmissions. Good thing, too, because the Chevelle was finally on the prowl, anxious to steal sales away from Ford's intermediate series.
Ford's 101-horsepower six and three-speed manual shift hung on as the base power-train, with the larger 116-horse six available for cars with the two-speed automatic. With the 221-cubic-inch V-8 dropped from the options list, the Challenger 260 became Fairlane's entry-level V-8. Its former role as the step-up V-8 was taken by a new 195-horsepower 289 with a two-pot carb and 9.0:1 compression. The solid-lifter 271-horse version of this engine remained the top choice.
Overdrive availability was now restricted to the 260 V-8; the 289s were the only ones that could be had with the four-speed. Fordomatic was the automatic transmission choice for the 260, with the three-speed Cruise-O-Matic available for the tamer of the two 289s. Hard-to-please leadfoots could obtain the high-performance V-8 with extra-long gearing: either a 3.89:1 or 4.11:1 rear-axle ratio.
Motor Trend again considered good handling to be a Fairlane virtue, as the car offered a "solid, quiet, big-car feeling." Technical editor Jim Wright rated the Fairlane Sports Coupe "very high in satisfaction potential" with the "mild" 289-cubic-inch V-8 and a four-speed. "For a good, all-around car," Wright suggested, "it's hard to beat." Owners would get "the responsive handling characteristics of a lightweight and the solidity of a big car, all wrapped up in an intermediate-sized package that's neither big nor small."
Although the Fairlane leaned excessively through sharp curves, its "suspension refused to bottom out on even the most severe dips." The Sports Coupe needed 9.8 to 10.2 seconds to reach 60 mph. Quarter-mile times might sound tame today -- 17.5 seconds and 78 mph -- but they were respectable for what was essentially a family car in 1964.
Wright applauded the extensive use of sound-deadening materials. A unibodied Fairlane, he explained, "seems as free from noise and vibration, even on the roughest roads, as any car that uses separate frame and body construction." MT also noted that a lot of the car's appeal lay in its extensive option list.
The magazine said Fairlane wagons offered a "solid, big-car feel, low noise level," but six-cylinder engines were deemed inadequate to cope with a station wagon's weight. Naturally, MT deplored Ford's two-speed automatic transmission for the wagon, suggesting that a 195-horsepower, 289-cubic-inch V-8 with Cruise-O-Matic would be the best choice. (The 271-horse V-8 was not offered in wagons.) Unlike the prior year's wagons, seat cushions were not included to make what Motor Trend called an "almost useless" third seat from the rear well. Instead, that area was now useful only for storage.
On the next page, learn about Ford's 1965 Fairlane.
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