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Old Fords Week: Adventures of a Ford Fairlane

I was westbound on I-64 in Charleston, West Virginia on a Sunday afternoon when I spotted an early-60s Ford Fairlane 500 sedan cruising at about 55 or 60 in the right lane. I was driving at the time, so The Missus took the photo below.

Charleston, WV, 5/8/11 The Fairlane looked like a good candidate for a restoration. There were no clouds of oil smoke or carbon crud billowing out of the tailpipe, so there's probably no major issues with the engine, at least. The car appeared to be sitting level on its suspension, though maybe a tad low, and was tracking straight down the lane. The paint was weathered and the bumpers have surface rust and need a good re-chroming, but there were no noticable dents, mismatched panels, or large primer-gray expanses of plastic filler. There's a little rust-through at the bottom of the front quarter behind the wheel well, where most cars have a moisture trap, but nothing that a competent body shop or a talented hobbyist couldn't patch. Some of the side trim is missing, but again, nothing that can't be addressed if you know what you're doing.

I started to wonder: is this a project car? Was this a test drive, or a "shakedown cruise" after a mechanical restoration, with the body work and paint to follow? Or, unlikely as it may be, is this someone's daily driver?

Surely, in the space  of nearly 50 years, it's been someone's daily driver, probably several someones' daily driver. How many times was it traded in or re-sold in the years since left the dealership under the command of its original purchaser? Did it go on epic summer car trips to distant places and see strange and wondrous things, or did it spend its entire life in the hills and "hollers" of West Virginia? It may have been the car that some 16-year old took his driver's test in, the car that brought the baby home from the hospital or took the oldest boy to the induction center when his number came up. Maybe it sat out a decade in Aunt Lurlene's garage, after she got up in years and couldn't get around so well. Maybe it ran the backroads at night with a trunk full of moonshine, or carried a young couple on their honeymoon. Maybe it did all of these things. You can imagine a hundred stories about a car like that, and most of them would be true.

Here's hoping the restoration goes well, and the car gets another fifty years of adventures.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

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I Like It When I See Partialy Restored Cars As Peoples Daily Drivers. My Uncle Has An Old 65 Fury III And A Dodge A100. Both For Daily Use.

Not only was the driver wise enough to drive the car, he (or she) is going fairly slowly and staying way over to the right in that lane.

I'll bet they're not texting either.

Cookie, you mention that the car probably has hundreds of stories to tell if it could talk. Why not let its patina do the talking? You want it to be restored, but wouldn't that erase the "fingerprints" of its previous owners? Know what I mean?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the preservation of the past, but like the Rat-rod and Volkswagen crowd say: "Rust (as found in patina'd parts and stuff, not the dangerous structural rust or the type found in a car's cooling system) is not a crime".

Then again, it might've had a restoration in the 80s or early 90s, but isn't that enough time for the car to (re)build its patina?

Yes, the possibility of having horrendous bodywork and botched repairs under that aged paint is highly probable. It's a tough question: to restore and have peace of mind or leave it as is? Guess it depends on the car's history.

Personally, I'd leave it as intact as possible, keeping it mechanically up-to-date and as clean, straight and original as possible.
If I have that hot-rodding urge, I'd just buy a stalled e-Bay project or something.

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