In 1966, the Ford Fairlane grew 1 inch in width although the length
and wheelbase remained the same. Stylists made the car look much wider and longer.
See All Facts and Figures
1966 -1970 Ford Fairlane & Torino
Bonus – 1958-1970 Ford FE Block Performance Engines
Ford Fairlane Grows Up in 1966
It was all about shock towers.
What’s a shock tower and why was this important? Ford, who called themselves “the Total Performance Brand”, was caught napping. On the track, they were going head to head with the Mopar Hemi, on the street, their 427 big car was perceived as the be all end all in stop light performance. But the appearance of the GTO and the rest of the GM brand’s response in 1965 was to put a 400 CID V-8 in a mid size car.
Mid size car? Ford and sister Mercury had put a performing Fairlane 500 XL and Comet Cyclone on the table, and journalists and the public ate them up. They were light, lively and crisp looking, but their source of power was the famous 289 CID V-8 in 225 and 271 HP configurations. When the GTO and later 442, GS 400, and Chevelle 396 appeared in 1965, Ford marketing knew they had a problem – 271 HP versus 335 wasn’t going to cut it with the new mid size muscle crowd.
Why not just shove the Ford 390 V-8 in the car and get on with it? Because those aforementioned “shock towers” in their unit body intruded too far into the engine compartment to fit the big Block “FE” V-8. Ford engineers and the savvy marketing people knew this because of the 1964 Ford Thunderbolt A/FX cars that had campaigned that year had to have the entire front end rebuilt by widening it almost 4″ to fit the FE 427. So in 1965, when all other manufacturers were touting 400+ CID V-8s in their mid size cars (Chrysler Corp had been doing it since 1962). Ford had no answer. Without a major redo of the unit body, Ford was stuck. Yes, the Mustang as selling like hotcakes, but in the mid size market, with Fairlane, not so much – especially when it came to what we now call “muscle”, the Fairlane was simply outclassed.
A new unit body was in the works for 1966, and the word quickly went out: “Move those shock towers!”
Selling the Big Block Ford Fairlane/Torino
In Period Print Media
Ford introduced a completely restyled and redesigned Fairlane in 1966. They added two models the GT and GTA as well as, for the first time, a convertible.
Their biggest effort went into marketing their new mid size muscle, the GT and GTA hardtops and convertibles equipped with the FE Series 390 CID big block V-8 in lieu of the Hi-Po 289 CID, adding 100 CID and 64 HP in the process. See:
- “1966 Fairlane” – 1966 Fairlane Brochure
- “1969 Ford Performance Buyer’s Digest” – 1969 Performance Brochure
- “Torino Cobra – Striking Power!“ 1970 Torino Print Ads
In Period Road Tests
Ford made sure their new Fairlane, especially the GT and GTA were made available to magazines and newspapers for testing during 1966-1970. Here are some examples:
- “Big Inch Fairlane“ – October 1965 Motor Trend magazine
- “Fairlane Cobra“ – January 1969 Car Life magazine
In 1970 Ford released a new engine for mid sized cars – the 385 Series 429 CID canted valve “Super Cobra Jet” for the Torino.
- “A Date with Three Strippers“ – December, 1969 Motor Trend magazine
See more road tests of the 1966-1970 Fairlane/Torino in our Library – HERE! Click “Ford”, then “Road Tests”.
While many today see the big clock Torino as a response to the GTO and other muscle cars (and it was), Ford had another motive – using this car as a response to Chrysler Corporation’s Hemi in NASCAR. They were stuck in the “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” NASCAR syndrome of the early 60s, which was only partly true.
By 1966 and beyond, if you wanted to sell to the youth market, you had to win on Sunday – at the drags! They figured this out for the Mustang by 1968 – and were very successful, and though the same Cobra Jet 428 CID V-8 was available in the Fairlane/Torino, few found their way to winning at the drags.
A Road Test of the 1969
Ford Fairlane Cobra
In the age of what was then called “Supercars” (what we call “Muscle Cars”) Ford’s fastback Fairlane was no slouch when equipped with the Cobra Jet 428 CID V-8. And in an attempt to come to grips with the Plymouth Road Runner, Ford stripped out much of the luxury items found in the standard Torino GT and called the result the “Cobra”. (They now owned Shelby and had access to the name).
In this January 1969 issue of Car Life magazine, they tested the Fairlane versus the Road Runner – though the tests were run separately.
Notable in their evaluation of the car were these points:
Looks: “. . . the fastback roof (we think) is the best looking around.”
Interior. “The front seats were habitable to all drivers.”
Handling: “The Cobra had more body lean than other cars in this group.”
Acceleration: “Acceleration was surprisingly good”.
Don’t forget to get more details on the 1969 Fairlane Cobra from the January issue of Car Life Magazine HERE.
A 1969 Ford Torino Cobra
“Cobra – Pure Engineering”
This was the era of specialized made for TV Advertisements. The video is specific to the 1969 Ford Torino Cobra and goes into a good bit of detail on the car.
Hear and see –> Cobra – Pure Engineering”
of the 1966-70 Fairlanes
Ford submitted these specifications to the American Automobile Manufacturers Association who placed them is research files that were retrievable in paper. We have captured those for the 1966-1970 years.
(A typical cover sheet and a subsequent page are shown at right).
You can see and download these accurate technical descriptions:
- 1966 Ford Fairlane AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1966 Ford Fairlane GT-GTA AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1967 Ford Fairlane AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1967 Ford Fairlane GT-GTA AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1968 Ford Fairlane-Torino AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1969 Ford Fairlane-Torino AAMA Specifications Sheets
- 1970 Ford Fairlane-Torino AAMA Specifications Sheets