1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner
he name Fairlane came from Henry Ford's Fair Lane mansion location in Dearborn, Michigan. The Ford Fairlane was introduced in 1955 as Ford's full-size model and was available in six different body styles. The vehicle could be assembled as a 2 door club sedan, a 4 door town sedan, a Victoria 2 door hardtop, a Sunliner convertible, a Crown Victoria, or a Crown Victoria with a plastic top.
There were wide assortments of engines to select from. The base 223 cubic-inch, Inline-six cylinder engine produced 120 horsepower. A modified version of the engine produced 137 horsepower. The 272 cubic inch, V8 engine produced 162 horsepower with the modified version producing 182 horsepower. In
1956, two new V8 engines were introduced. The 292 cubic-inch engine produced 200 horsepower. The 312 cubic-inch produced 215 horsepower with the modified version producing 225 horsepower.
In 1956 a four door Victoria hard-top was added to the line up.
In 1957, the height of the vehicle was reduced by two inches. The suspension received improvements via swept back front lower control arms and longer rear leaf springs. The engines remained the same but with modifications, the horsepower ratings increased. A new top trim was added to the line up, the 500. This introduction was significant because it was the world's first power retractable hardtop.
With its convenience, it also brought problems. The system was expensive, complicated, and riddled with mechanical defects.
In 1958, the front bumper and grille was redesigned. Quad headlamps were used in the front and rear of the vehicle, replacing the previous single headlamp design. Other exterior changes included updates to the side and top of the vehicle. A new 'big Block', 332/352 cubic-inch V8 replaced the 292 and 312 cubic-inch V8's.
1959 was the final year for the Skyliner Hardtop Convertible. The remaining Fairlanes received styling and mechanical changes. The size of the windshields increased; the headlamps and rear of the vehicle received modifications as well. Due to fuel economy, the V8 engines were de-tuned. The suspension continued to receive improvements, increasing ride-quality. Part-way through the year, Ford introduced another body style, the Galaxie.
The 1960 Fairlanes were six inches longer, five inches wider and about 200 pounds heavier. The Sunliner returned to the line-up. The square-roof Starliner of 1959 was replaced by a pillarless, two-door hardtop version. The rest of the body styles received updates that included straight A-pillars and horizontal tailfins.
In 1961, a 390 cubic-inch V8 engine was introduced, capable of producing 375 horsepower. The modified version of the engine produced over 400 horsepower. The Fairlane was once again redesigned and contrary to the prior year, became lighter and shorter. The hood of the vehicle was reshaped, the grille was re-worked, and the taillights, once again, were changed.
In 1962, a new, light weight 221 cubic-inch V8 was built using a process called thin-wall casting. The 221 was referred at to as the 'worlds first economy eight'. Later, the engine was increased to 260 cubic inches and then 289 cu in. Half-way through the year, Ford introduced the Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe. The vehicle featured bucket seats and an option for a 260 cubic-inch V8, which was actually a modified version of the light-weight V8. The vehicles could be assembled in either three speed manual or 'Fordomatic Drive' automtaic transmission.
In 1963 another new engine appeared on the scene. This was a 289 cubic-inch engine that produced 270 horsepower in modified form. The exterior received minor improvements. The front grill was new for 1963 which required modifications to the hood, bumper, and fenders.
In 1964 there were eight body styles to select from; none were convertibles.
The rear of the vehicle was restyled. The tailfins were removed. The suspension was modified which improved ride-quality. The interior received minor enhancments. Full carpeting for the floors was available. Turn signals would shut off after a slight turn of the steering wheel.
Ford produced 57 special Fairlane's that were comprised of a highly modified engine and a 3200 pound lightweight package. The purpose was for drag racing. The weight of the vehicle was reduced by incorporating fiberglass fenders, Plexiglas windows, light weight bucket seats, and other weight saving measures. The engine was a modified 427 big block that produced around 500 horsepower. The transmission and suspension was modified to accommodate these special drag racing vehicles. Commonly referred to as 'Thunderbolt' or 'T-bolts', the success on the race track increased the demand for these vehicles and 54 additional vehicles were produced, bringing the total to 111 examples.
In 1965, Ford moved the Fairlane out of the mid-size market. The base engine was the 200 cubic inch V6 that produced 120 horsepower. The 289 cubic-inch V8 replaced the 260 cu.in. engine.
In 1966 the GT and GTA packages were introduced. A new convertible option was added to the line-up as well. Due to the size of the big block V8, the Fairlane needed to be redesigned to accommodate. The GTA series came equipped with SportShift Cruise-O-Matic automatic gearboxes and the 390 cubic-inch V8.
The GT series featured the 390 cubic-inch V8 as standard equipment. Other equipment for these series included suspension modifications, disc brakes, special hoods, paint and body striping, badges, and special steering wheels.
In 1967 only minor aesthetic changes were done to the vehicle. The GT and GTA series received front disc brakes, vinyl interiors, and bucket seat as standard equipment. The disc brakes were a major improvement from the prior drum-brake system. The 289 cubic inch V8 produced 200 horsepower, the 390 cubic inch V8 produced 275 horsepower and a modified version of the 390 cubic-inch produced 320 horsepower. A 427 cubic-inch 'side oiler' was available, although about 200 were produced. The 427 cubic-inch engine was capable of producing between 410 and 425 horsepower.
Additional modifications to the engine would bring about even more horsepower.
In 1968, the Fairlane was redesigned and was once again moved into the full-size car class. A 'Sportsroof' fastback and Torino series were added to the line-up. The vehicles were either called a Fairlane or a Torino. The lower through mid range vehiciles were Fairlanes. The GT and higher-end versions were called Torino models. The Torino featured a 320 cubic-inch V8 engine, bucket seats, badges, striping, light package, and wheel covers. The engine options for this year included a 302, 390, and 427 cubic inch.
In 1969, more modifications to the vehicle occurred making it better suited for the road and the race track. Mechanical enhancements increased the overall horsepower output of all the engines, the suspension was modified, four-speed manual transmission, and wider tires were offered.
The Torino Talladega series, named after a 2.66 mile track in Alabama, was designed for the NASCAR circuit. The vehicle featured aerodynamic enhancements that included a sloped nose and reworked rocker panels. The big block 428 cubic-inch V8 was used, supplying 335 horsepower. In total, 754 examples were produced.
In 1970, the Fairlane was once again restyled. All dimensions, except for the height, increased in size. The Falcon was added to the Torino series. A wide variety of engines and modifications existed this year for the Fairlane family. They included a 302, 351, and 429 cubic-inch engines. The 302, on the low end, produced 220 bhp and 250 bhp after modifications. The 351 produced between 285-300 horsepower, while the 429 produced 360 bhp on the low end and 375 horsepower after modifications.
In 1971, the engines were detuned or replaced with six-cylinder engines, due to rising fuel concerns and strict emission regulations. The 250 cubic inch six-cylinder produced 145 horsepower, the 302 cubic inch V8 produced 220-250 horsepower. A 351 and 429 cubic-inch engine were still available with horsepower ratings ranging from 285 bhp through 375 bhp. The styling for the Torino's remained virtually unmodified.
In 1972, the Torino's continued to grow in all dimensions, even weight. The convertible and Cobra options were removed from the line up.
Ford had used the Torino model-line to phase out the Fairlane models. The Fairlanes were offered from 1955 though 1971.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2017
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