March 21, 2023

Classic Wheels Spotlight: 1966 Ford Fairlane

Dan Norsell’s 1966 Ford Fairlane 500XL Convertible

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1966 Ford Fairlane Front

Many times I find noteworthy cars at a cruise night, a car show, or simply by word-of-mouth. Why mention? I was visiting a nearby neighborhood and saw this glistening sinister black Fairlane in a driveway. I hit the brakes hard, dogs yelped, little kids ran and I made a spectacle of myself.

The finish on this Ford not only looked like a moonless midnight on a stone-still ocean, but it was as if someone had poured a bucket of paint over it, and it was still wet. Snapping out of my delirium, I then noticed a slick pinstripe running the flanks of this gorgeous 1966 Ford Fairlane 500 XL.

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1966 Ford Fairlane Rear

It would take volumes to explain the evolution of the Ford Fairlane through its multiple iterations over decades of styles, mock-ups, and manufacturing configurations of the big three. No, not that big three. One, the chassis; two, the drivetrain; three, and perhaps most importantly, the pizzazz of the body style.

Ford had an array of bodies and drivetrain packages. Through the years, it offered basically three frames and buying one gave you more options than ordering pizza at Domino’s. Not to mention – this is a rag-top!

The 1966 car in the photos is the fifth generation of Fairlane, on a mid-size frame, and it features the desirable, dependable, and venerable 289c.i. engine. This one, however, is the high-performance 289 backed by a Borg Warner four-speed “top loader” transmission. Aptly named ‘top-loader’ due to the bolted-down plate atop the transmission for access.

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1966 Ford Fairlane Interior

Don Norsell has owned this gorgeous piece of machinery for several years. Blowing the smoke off my front brakes I apparently caught Don’s attention by telling him as I walked up that I was a famous automotive author.

Kidding aside, Don was very down to earth. I think he could tell I was just a car guy and we hit it off immediately. Grabbing a couple of chairs, we sat in his pristine garage as I perused the many photos of all the makes, models, and brands of muscle cars and Corvettes he has owned over the years.

I have met folks that have owned a particular car for decades and I appreciate it. I also admire a guy like Don who grabs the gusto of acquiring, sampling, and then passing on so many fine marques. I may just stay in touch with Don, to know when he’s ready to pass this bad boy onto the next lucky owner.

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1966 Ford Fairlane Engine