Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vintage Car spotting- Spotlight on 1956 Ford Fairlane

Hey to my Hep-Cats out there!

We have been seeing this vintage beauty touring around town the past couple weeks.  My son was able to get a few pictures while it was parked.    Lovin' the pink & black color-scheme they chose! 

I believe that the extended bumper is probably a custom feature...I haven't seen any others like it.

There are a lot of people either squarely in the Ford lovers club,  or out of it. There seems to be little 'middle ground'  Most likely you have heard the acronyms:

FORD  - Fix Or Repair Daily


FORD -  First On Race Day

The Fairlane for me has some personal interest.  Here is an amusing (mostly-after-the-fact) family story:

When my parents were dating and then later married  (August of 1967),   my Mom drove a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air that was a hand me down from one of her older brothers.  My Dad drove a more current model Ford Fairlane  (I don't know the exact year, but believe it was an early '60's model)

My Dad in his practical wisdom, decided that they didn't really need (and probably couldn't afford) two cars,  and his Fairlane being the newer one,  they should keep that and sell the Bel Air.     So off they drove, into the sunset, in the Fairlane on their Honeymoon.     The Fairlane proceeded to break down - not once, not twice, but three times on their trip up to Niagara Falls, using most of their honeymoon money on repairs to boot.  My Mom was about ready to kill my Dad, but they ended up making it up there and home in one piece. 
So thanks to the Fairlane, folks, there was almost murder, divorce, and me not being born. 
       (In 1970, they went out and bought a brand new VW Beetle - the same car I learned to drive on 15 years later.  Love those Beetles! - but that is a different story for a different time)  and  I am happy to add, that my Mom and Dad are still going strong after 47 years of marriage.  

In all fairness to the FORD brand, we currently own a Ford Van (an E350),  as was its predecessor (an E150) The van is the handicapped equipped vehicle that we use when we need to bring my sweetie somewhere or take family road trips and we have had very little trouble with them,  To paraphrase the guy I bought it from (he's the fleet manager at a local livery service that specializes in handicapped vehicles, and they exclusively use the Fords for their larger transport vehicles)  "The Ford engines [that are used in the vans/trucks] will run forever as long as you maintain them"  and yes folks, I do believe they will.

Getting a little side-tracked here, my apologies. Back to our lovely Fairlane:  The first model year it was produced was 1955.  In doing a little research on the early ones, this was a year of many 'firsts' for Ford.   The Fairlane featured the first factory controlled air conditioner for Ford,  the first panoramic windshields that had been seen on a few other makers like Buick & Cadillac the previous year,  and the first time seat belts were offered as a dealer option on Fords in general. In fact,  one of the advertising campaigns launched by Ford in 1956 promoted it's "Lifeguard Design" (see below for ad)  which included not only the seatbelts, but a recessed steering wheel so the driver wouldn't sustain as bad of injuries if in an accident, improved padding, door latches, and other improved safety features.

[side note here for some people who may either be too young, or possibly not aware of the early history of cars,  but the earlier automobiles were not the bastions of safety that we see today:  seat belts didn't become standards til the late 50's (Nash offered them as an option in '49, as did Ford 
(mentioned above) in '55)     Rearview mirrors, although pre-dating seat-belts, were not introduced by manufacturer's until 1914.     (I found this little gem in the Wikipedia article about them: 

The rear-view mirror's earliest known use and mention is by Dorothy Levittin her 1906 book 

The Woman and the Car which noted that women should "carry a little hand-mirror in a 

convenient place when driving" so they may "hold the mirror aloft from time to time in 

order to see behind while driving in traffic", )

and lets not even get into how kids were transported around up into the 1970's....]

But back to our Fairlane.   A couple of really well written articles/blog postings that I found if you are interested on some more about them:  by J.P Cavanaugh

and  by Daniel Vaughan (9/2013) :

"The 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.   
..... In 1956 a four door Victoria hard-top was added to the line up. " 
(excerpt from Daniel Vaughan)

Telling Model Years Apart: 

One question that crops up when you see a vintage car around town,  which model year is it?   People usually can figure out a decade - but for the rest, well   "God is in the Details" they say....

Sometimes it will be near impossible to figure out an exact year without either asking the owner or getting a look at the registration, you may have to settle for a span of a couple years.
If you can get a good look at some of the specific details on the vehicle (chrome detailing, tail fins, headlights, tail lights, etc.), and then its research, research research.

With the Fairlane, we lucked out.   Ford actually changed up the side Chrome detailing each year:

1955, First year the Fairlane came out,  notice the nice neat triangular pivotal line of the side chrome

1956 - They added a little 'flair' with the side chrome, creating a broken visual line

1957 - The Side Chrome got nice and straight, then took an upward lunge toward the rear of the car.   

1958 - They created a triangular inset with the side chrome, allowing for a tertiary color

Other details to pay attention to on vintage cars in general  - are the lights round or square?  (Square ones were usually later '60's)   one or double?   Size of the tail fins?  Tail fins at all?  Many manufacturers started with a modest tail fin that grew in size over the course of the decade.
The more details you can collect, the more you can pin the model year down. 

Anyway,  one final look at the lovely pink & black Fairlane!

Do you have a favorite vintage car?  Funny car story?
Would love to hear about it!  Comment below....

Thanks so much for tuning in today!
xo Yvonne

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