SHOW CAR STAR: Ford’s Handcrafted Fairlane GT-X

I don’t think that there is a single car manufacturer who hasn’t, at some point, built either a concept or custom show car designed to excite the passions of the average buyer. Some of these vehicles will eventually make it into production in one form or another, while some are purely there to attract the public’s attention. In the 1960s, Ford had a pretty significant performance focus but was looking for a way to engage their “grass-roots” customers. Their answer was to create cars like this 1966 Ford Fairlane GT-X, which was then sent on a tour across the country to stir the public’s interest. Many of these cars would end their lives in the company’s crusher, but a few of them managed to survive. This is a survivor, and it is now ready to find a new home. It is set to go to auction around January 11-19, 2020, in Scottsdale, Arizona. If you would like nothing more than to own a truly unique vehicle, you will find the Ford listed for sale here at Barrett-Jackson, where it will be offered in a No Reserve auction.

It really is hard to know where to start with this car, because it is loaded with details. It started life as a regular Fairlane 500 body-shell that was removed from the production line and sent off to Ford’s prototype division for hand-assembly. The car, along with detailed drawings and specifications, was then transported to the workshop of Winfield’s Rod and Custom, in Modesto, California. It was here that the legendary Gene Winfield and his crew performed their magic to produce the car that you see before you. The front-end, grille, and headlamps received a custom finish, as did the tail-lights. The exhaust outlets (and there are four of them), were grafted into the body. Two of them exit through the rear bumper, while there is one exiting through the rear of each rocker. They aren’t there for looks, because they are all functional. The hood features custom air intakes, while there is a significant amount of custom exterior trim and chrome. The whole body was then treated to a custom mix of White Metalflake paint with Peacock Metalflake stripes. Once completed, the car was returned to Ford for show duties to draw attention to the 1966 Fairlane range. The car made its debut in January 1966 at the Autorama Show in Detroit, before crisscrossing the country to appear in everything from prestigious motor shows to county fairs. It was eventually retired from duty in early 1967. The car then fell into private hands, and only recently was it restored to its former glory. When you want to revive a classic like this, there is no better person to head the project than the man who built the car in the first place. Therefore, it fell to Gene Winfield to apply a fresh coat of that amazing paint.

The GT-X was not a case of “all show and no go,” because filling the engine bay is a 427ci “side-oiler” V8. In addition, the car is outfitted with a 3-speed automatic transmission, a 9″ rear end equipped with 4.11 gears, power steering, and power brakes. The drive-train is essentially standard but dressed up to provide that appearance of raw speed and power. Even so, there should be nothing wrong with the car’s performance when you look at the mechanical package. The presentation of the engine bay is as immaculate as you would expect from a show car, and you can be sure that a single glimpse of that engine would have generated plenty of excitement in quite a few show-goers.

If you are searching for subtlety, then looking inside the GT-X is the wrong place to commence your search. This interior is about as “in your face” as it was possible to get in 1966. The Peacock Metalflake paint that provided the stripes on the vehicle’s exterior has been continued inside the car, with that color gracing the metal surfaces. In addition, custom Peacock Metalflake vinyl was manufactured to cover the seats and door trims, and even the rim of the steering wheel. Items like the dash itself, the gauges, radio, dash pad, and the carpet, were all standard Ford production items, and they just disappear into the background against the custom trim items. Once the restoration of the vehicle had been completed, it seemed only fitting that the signature of Gene Winfield should find itself a place of honor on the door of the glove compartment.

Manufacturers still produce concepts and show cars today, but they don’t seem to quite grab the public’s imagination in the way that cars like these used to. Personally, I think that their success lay in the fact that while they appeared to be quite outrageous and extraverted, in reality, it was actually conceivable to transform a standard 1966 Fairlane GT into something similar in appearance. It would never be a cheap undertaking, but the average punter could look at a car like this and see that it was aspirational but achievable. That’s something that you can’t say about the majority of such cars that appear today. Maybe there is something to be said for adopting the simpler approach that is embodied in this car.

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Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    One of the benefits of this site is we get to see not only common or popular old vehicles, we sometimes get to see rare or unique models. This Fairlane is a good example. I had no idea of its existence.
    .
    The documentation is solid. The many custom touches are period-correct. Overall I think it is pretty cool, in a 60’s sort of way. I wonder what it looked like before the restoration, but I can only imagine the amount of money involved, especially if some of those custom pieces had to be re-manufactured.

    Fairlanes like this don’t usually bring the super big bucks, so I’m curious what this one will go for. I hope whoever gets it will put it into the public view. If brought to the local Cars and Coffee, the owner needs to have their speech ready and not grow tired of giving it… “So, what is this??”

    Like 13
  2. Ike Onick

    Pretty cool except for the hood. There is an old design adage- “Less is More”. I know that certainly does not apply to show cars but…

    Like 6
  3. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I agree it is different. I like the 66-67 Fairlanes, but I have to say this is one show vehicle that leaves something to be desired IMO. So many show vehicles go over the top when it comes to modifications that the mods take precedence over the actual vehicle, that’s what I think happens with this one. To me it’s as if George Barris had left over materials and a car after the Batmobile and this is what happened.

    Like 2
  4. AMCSTEVE

    Saw this at MCACN yesterday. The pics don’t do it justice, stunning.

    Like 9
    • Big_Fun Member

      Steve – yes the MCACN was one of the best yet! And this car was icing on the cake. The hood doesn’t look as bad in person. Interior was stunning. …

      Like 1
  5. Rick Rothermel

    Gene Winfield is an amazing talent and a cool guy. Seeing his prior work from a time when he was overshadowed by Barris schlock is gratifying… And he’s one of very few of his peers who is still around!
    This will be a six figure car if marketed properly.

    Like 2
    • boxdin

      Gene Winfield for President !!

      Like 4
  6. jerry z

    That hood is just so ugly, yet the rest of the car is sweet. A 1966 SS396 Chevelle and a 1966 390 Fairlane would be the perfect combo in my garage.

    Like 4
  7. Comet

    It’s beautiful. And I’m a GM guy.

    Like 6
  8. Will Fox

    The last time I saw glitter metalflake vinyl like the interior has was on a `50s kitchen table chair cushion & back rest. So cool! But on a hot day? Yikes…

    Like 6
    • boxdin

      Thats why the seats are full of ventilation holes.

      Like 1
      • SubGothius

        …with metal grommets that will hurt if not burn you if you try to sit on them on a hot, sunny day.

        Like 1
      • Michael Ridley

        that’s attribute to the GT40 seats . they really only take a second or two to cool down. The metal rings I mean. I had a car with the same metalflake interior and you stick to it like Velcro. But the wow factor In the day was well worth the little heat and noise .Nothing a shop towel did not correct while driving.

        Like 2
  9. J_Paul Member

    It looks like a real-life Hot Wheels car, right down to the redline tires. Excellent.

    Like 5
  10. stillrunners Stillrunners Member

    Neat -o..

    Like 1
  11. hvac999

    They still used the two hood scoops, on the production cars, but they did lower them to almost flat. The automatics were “GTA” and the manuals “GT”, The only engine available was the hipo 390 no 427s,

    • Ken Wittick

      Quite wrong ,427 was available in 1966….

      Like 8
  12. 433jeff

    427 ford!!!! My hats off

    Like 2
  13. lc

    I love factory customs like this, much more than concept vehicles. Designed to showcase current models and generate floor traffic. Could have easily been a AMT 3 in 1 model kit.

    Like 5
  14. Karl

    I am with Comet I am true Chevy orange through and through, but with that said this is one very neat Ford!

    Like 3
  15. hvac999

    Not in the GT/GTA line

    Like 1
  16. Del

    What a set of Hooters.

    Major ugly.

    Like 2
  17. Burger

    The folks over at Ford styling studios had a penchant for dumping gallons of ugly into the water cooler for the designers to drink, but every now and then something slipped through that was pretty good looking. The 66-67 Fairlane was one of those designs. It looks Ford, but carries much of the crisp edges and coke bottle shape that was the thing at the time. Not a car I ever wanted, but decent looking and pleasantly not as cookie cutter as so many other of the cars that glut every car show.

    This thing is cool. The hood horns are a bit excessive, but the rest is pretty slick and refined from the stock version. Just think, … in a few years all Fords were bloated pigs and the Pinto was all the sales rage !

    Like 3
  18. Troy s

    Love these Fairlanes, my taste is more simple than this custom. Make mine one of the 58 or so 427 Fairlane 500’s from ’66.This is more attractive under the hood for me than the S code 390, but the rest does its job as a show car.
    Here’s an idea Ford could have done: make a GT/R…all 428 inches of police interceptor with serious gears, a real goat stomper and make it available to the buying public not just the racers on the payroll.

    Like 1
  19. Johnny Demonic

    Love the hood.

    I sat in those same style seats in a bumper car at Frontier City!

  20. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $236,500.

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