SS396 Fighter: 1966 Ford Fairlane GT 390

In 1966, if you wanted a blue-oval weapon with which to take on the might of Chevrolet’s Impala SS396, then something like this Fairlane GT 390 would have been a strong candidate. With lower weight and marginally more power, the GT 390 was a car that would acquit itself well in a head-to-head fight with the Impala. This particular example is a nicely preserved car that is ready to take to the roads with a new owner, and that owner could potentially be you. If you can picture yourself behind the wheel, you will find the Fairlane located in Woodruff, South Carolina, and listed for sale here on eBay. At the time of writing, bidding has reached $19,100, but the reserve hasn’t been met. It would appear that there might be more than a few people who can picture themselves in this classic because there are currently 168 people who are watching the listing.

The Fairlane is finished in Wimbledon White, and while it might have received a repaint at some point in the past, the steel is not only all original, but it’s rust-free. The paint itself has a nice shine, with no signs of any obvious chips, scratches, or dings. The exterior trim and chrome appear to be close to faultless, with the same being true for the glass. The wheels that are fitted to the vehicle aren’t original, and normally I would be all over something like this. Sure, I’d love to see the Fairlane fitted with an original set of wheels, but these really seem to fit the character and styling of this car. I’m pretty sure that I could learn to live with them.

When you lift the hood on the Fairlane, you find yourself confronted with an S-Code 390ci V8, producing 335hp. Hooked to the back of this is a 4-speed manual transmission, which directs those ponies to the 3.25 rear end. It’s a tasty combination, and it gets even tastier when you realize that this is a numbers-matching car. The owner makes reference to the car having been the recipient of a meticulous level of care, and he also states that the car runs and drives perfectly. It would appear from the description that this is a car that is ready to be driven and enjoyed immediately, and its performance should be enough to plaster a smile all over the next owner’s face. Capable of accelerating from 0-60 in 6.2 seconds and galloping through the ¼ mile in 14.7 seconds, it was well and truly capable of seeing off the challenge of the Impala SS396 when new. As a blue-oval enthusiast myself, that’s enough to put a pretty decent smile on my face.

The high level of preservation becomes evermore obvious when we peek inside the Fairlane. The original red interior trim is in remarkable condition, and even the two-tone wheel has managed to avoid the worst of the wear issues. The dash and pad look perfect, while the upholstered trim and headliner are free of rips, tears, or stains. There is some stretching evident on the front seats, but this is actually pretty minor, especially in a vehicle of this age. If the interior is as original as the owner claims, then the condition of the carpet is especially noteworthy. It appears to be free of wear and fading, which is quite a feat in itself.

This 1966 Fairlane GT 390 is a pretty impressive car, and parking it in your driveway would attract plenty of admiring glances and comments from your more knowledgeable neighbors. With 33,013 examples being produced in Hardtop form in the 1966 model year, they were not an especially rare car when new. However, the vast majority of examples that hit the market today are the GTA version, with manual offerings being very much in the minority. That makes this a relatively rare opportunity and one that would be worth serious consideration for anyone on the hunt for a really solid 1960s classic that successfully combines luxury and muscle.

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Comments

  1. matthew B steele

    My dad had one it was kind of ratty. He traded it to my brother for my brothers 69 impala that was immaculate. We all thought that he was ripping my brother off but my brother was into hot rods. And liked the challenge of working on things. I wish I had that car now

    Like 3
  2. Robbie M.

    All I can say is: Oh, Yeah!

    Like 9
  3. CJinSD

    I have the March, 1966 Car and Driver “Masten Gregory Test Drives the Super Cars!” issue where the Fairlane GTA that achieved impressive test numbers was fettled and handled by Holman Moody. Even the transmission was modified. Of the 14 second Fords Car and Driver said, “Anyone who knows engines will tell you there isn’t a 390 built that will turn more than 5300-5500 rpm in stock form, but the ones in our Comet and Fairlane would turn an effortless 6500 rpm.” They also said the only published number for a real Fairlane GTA was 16.5 seconds at 82 mph. It’s funny how the numbers Ford faked over fifty years ago made it into the historical record. The drastic differences between stock and tested weren’t just down to tuning, as cars had no emissions controls in 1966. The cars Ford supplied for testing were heavily modified racing cars.

    Like 7
    • Superdessucke

      To be fair, that was rather common practice back then. Pontiac was notorious for doing this, and other makes probably did it too to keep up.

      So basically, you have to take vintage road test acceleration times with a big grain of salt.

      Like 6
  4. local_sheriff

    I’m a bowtie kind of guy but I’ve always admired the ’66 Fairlane. Though higly similar I find this face to be a tad nicer than the ’67. Much cooler ride than the ’13 on a dozen’ Mustang. Great color combo, a GT rather than a GTA, and such pristine condition! And what a price – as of writing close to 35k and reserve still not met…! Yikes… I’m happy I made my pile prior to the classic car boom…

    Like 3
  5. Desertrat

    Impala fighter? No that was the Galaxy’s job, the Fairlane was ment to take on Chevelles. As for the wheels they are exactly what I would put on this car if it were mine.

    Like 22
    • Richard Huber

      Thank you! You need to compare apples to apples and this car would have a weight advantage over the Impala which would not be a fair comparison. This Fairlane versus a 396 Chevelle would be your match up.

      Like 8
    • Thomas Parker

      You are spot on. Not an equal comparison. Sure it’s lighter than a Poncho Grand Prix, a full sized Buick, Olds, Merc etc. Come on now!

      Like 2
    • bry593

      x2

      Like 4
  6. Mark Mitchell Member

    I bought that deep red ’66 Mercury Comet Cyclone GT convertible that was featured on Barnfinds. It also has this same S Code 335 HP 390 as this Fairlane. Its nearly the same car (other tan some styling tweaks) but probably aimed at a slightly older buyer when it was new. It turned out to be a wonderful rust free low miles car and was truly a bargain. It has a lot of cool features (black CA plates, factory fiberglass hood, Holley 4 bbl, dual exhaust, factory tach, A/C, console, power top, and original “chrome reverse” styled Cyclone wheel covers). It rumbles like McQueen’s Bullitt Mustang, but with a completely different style and presence. Thanks Barnfinds for bringing it to my attention – I love it!

    Like 22
  7. McQ

    Here’s what I found with a Fairlane GTA I bought in May, ‘66. Other than glass-pack mufflers the car was totally stock. Ran it in C Pure Stock at Kent Pacific Raceways, South of Seattle, in July. Well broke in by that time. Ran a 15.0/96 mph. Beat two ‘66 442’s and then eliminated by a tri-powered, 360 horse ‘65 GTO. C Pure Stock was filled that day. Cars had to have street-stock tires, stock exhaust manifolds, intakes, carbs, etc. Automatics and Sticks were run together. No separate class based on transmission. Over the ten years I owned the Fairlane I made a couple modifications: ‘66 Aluminum 428 PI intake, and dual point distributor along with some tuning on the advance curve. Never changed the original 3.25 rear gears nor the hard shifting C-6 … Ford called it “Sportshift”. It ran a 14.3/97 mph in ‘76 at the same drag strip. The 390 ran best when the C-6 was left in D. Shifted right at 5,500 RPM. Max HP was made at that RPM with the stock GT cam. Over the years cars I beat: Malibu SS 396’s with the base 325 hp engine, standard Olds 442’s, standard GTO 4 bbl., Roadrunner/Super Bee 383’s, standard Buick GS. Cars I never beat: Malibu 396’s – 360 hp, 350 hp, any GTO up-grades, i.e., tri-power or ram air specials, W-30 442’s and couldn’t come close to any 440 powered MoPars ..GTX, RT’s. Ford answered the call for a more competitive engine package by mid ‘68 (Thank You Tasca Ford) with the Cobra Jet 428.

    Like 21
    • McQ

      Amending my post: another car I never beat with my 335 hp 390GT – any K Code 289Hi-Po 271 hp.

      Like 7
  8. Bob S

    I love the look of this Fairlane, but it brings up a bitter memory that I had a chance to buy a beautiful 67 Fairlane GT, 4 dr hdtp with the 335 horse engine in beautiful condition, and I passed on it. I regret it to this day.
    I also like the wheels on this car, but I would also prefer to have the original wheels in the garage.
    I think the interior is very pretty, and assuming there is no rust, I believe the car should easily sell for good value. I know I would be interested.
    I have been a Chevy guy most of my long (ish) life, and having owned both an SS396 and a 390 Comet, my impression, is that it is a matter of brand loyalty rather than performance that distinguishes these mid sized cars. I felt that it was the driver that made the difference, and I won as frequently in the Chevelle as I did driving my Comet.
    I have a learned love of the FE engine, and although 390 has been frequently maligned, it is a great engine with a long production life, that was produced for a large variety of duties, from high performance to truck, and did all the tasks well.
    Bob

    Like 5
    • McQ

      Excellent points on the FE 390 Bob. One 390 most have forgotten or are unaware of was the 1961 High Performance Special rated at 375 hp. This particular 390 was factory built as a true Performance engine to compete with the 409 and 413. Heavy duty main webbing, large rods, true Performance solid lifter camshaft, special heads providing 10.5:1 CR, Aluminum intake topped with a 600 CFM Holley, dual point distributor, header style cast iron exhaust manifolds. In April of ‘61 Ford offered their legendary tri-power system for this engine. This 390 was a true runner that allowed full size Galaxies to easily run in the 13’s which was very competitive in those days. Speaking of the FE series …. well I’ll be it was FE power that carried the Ford GT40 MK. II’s across the finish line 1 – 2 – 3 in 1966. Ford FE powered GT40’s when on to win Le Mans three more consecutive years. “Ford v Ferrar”. “7,000 RPM Go Like Hell”!

      Like 5
      • Bob S

        Yep, I still have the Hod Rod Magazine with that engine on the cover.
        Bob

        Like 1
  9. McQ

    I do want to say that this ‘66 Fairlane GT is a beautiful car that based on similar ‘66-‘67 GT Fairlanes I’ve seen sell it should easily bring $35K.

  10. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Like…as in like the 66/67 Fairlanes…..

    Like 1
  11. R Soul

    Very nice! White over red, topped off with a 390.

  12. Troy s

    Beautiful Ford, those wheels are a perfect match for this car. Have to admit when it comes to all the muscle of the mid sixties these Fairlanes are spot on in appearance.

    Like 3
  13. David Blinston

    Cool car, love the whole combo including the wheels

    Like 1
  14. PDXBryan

    Just something about these that still really does it for me. The chiseled styling, perfect stance, “Bullit” sound track combined with everyday usability must have been really appealing to enthusiasts back in the day. I know it was to me….but I was only a kid. Looks great with TorqThrusts too, but the original Rally wheels might actually still get my top vote.

  15. chrlsful

    OH Boy! stacked headlights, 390, 4 speed mmmm. @ 35,3$ right now.
    My fav is the ranchero that had this frnt trim/yr. C it by googling the ranch, scroll dwn to the pic of the ‘blue’ (turquoise?) one. Justa bute brute

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