Saturday, January 7, 2017

1967 Ford Fairlane: Deja Vu Ford goodness sakes

Owned for 50 years, has a 289 engine and three-speed column shift transmission.

Babysitter’s Fairlane. Automotive journalism affords a guy opportunities that other neighborhood busybodies may not be aware of. Things may be hiding in otherwise plain sight. Such is the case with this car. Residents of the neighborhood where I (Ron) grew up mentioned this mystery car from time to time. They thought it may very well be a 1963 Ford Galaxy or even an LTD still in the hands of its original owner. 
  So, I went to the door. Why would someone let me in? I thought maybe because I had a camera and a notebook as well as a passion for older cars. Maybe because I made it clear I am not trying to buy it, but would just love to see it. Still, why let someone in you don’t really know? 
  The car turned out to be a 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 four-door sedan. It had several attributes that would be the envy of anyone attempting to restore an older vehicle. This beautiful sedan did not need restoration. It was a true one-owner survivor. Powered by a 289 V8, a manual 3-speed on the column, and a great story that I needed to know!

1967 Ford Fairlane 500 has a three-speed column shift transmission.
50 years ago
  It seems in February of 1967, Mr. S (name protected) had an errand to run at a local Ford dealership. On the lot of Jim Skinner Ford, on the eastern side of Birmingham, Alabama, Mr. S spotted the car that would be a part of the family from that point forth. A brand new 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 in Raven Black. It had a peppy 289-cubic-inch V8 under the hood and propelled itself with a manual three-speed, shifted on the column. This four-door sedan would be a perfect family car. Now to work on that "family" part. 

All original with 68k miles.
All original 289-V8 engine sits under hood of the ’67 Fairlane.

Wedding bells
  After surprising his girlfriend (the future Mrs. S) with the grand arrival in the new sedan. It was just the inspiration a guy needs they were married in September of 1967. They took the car on their honeymoon to Gary, Indiana. It also served them on trips as far north as Canada. After the addition of aftermarket air conditioning, they drove the black Ford way down south to Florida. However, don’t get the idea that this car was in steady rotation. It was driven sparingly and cared for meticulously. A mere 68,396 miles on the odometer.

Seat covers protected the 1967 Fairlane’s original seats from wear.

Preserving history
  Years later, the car is still in the hands of Mrs. S. She kindly let me take as many photos as I wanted and graciously offered to move things around in her garage to take better photos. I was amazed at the condition of this classic Ford. Most people would not have preserved a spartan four-door sedan the way Mr. S did. They covered the seats when the Fairlane was new, to protect the original material from harm. Clearly, this car did not see much rain or snow. In Alabama, the sun can be violent. It is especially not kind to black paint that tends to hold heat. Somehow, Mr. and Mrs. S protected it from that too. 

The Raven Black four-door 1967 Ford Fairlane has lived in this garage for 50 years.

Meet again, for the first time
  My lovely visit with Mrs. S and my photo shoot came to an end. As I was leaving, I mentioned that my grandmother lived down the street and perhaps she had known her. 
  “No, but I know you,” she replied.
  She knew me? How did she know me? 
  That explains the friendly greeting and the “Come on in” I encountered earlier. But how?

The driver could set the warning MPH, which created a buzzing sound to warn driver they were above indicated speed preference.
The speed warning option made an annoying buzzing sound to nag you if you exceeded the preset limit. After Mr. S added the wife option the warning buzzer was no longer needed.

Deja vu
  How do you know me?, I asked. Maybe she is a reader of Junkyard Life (editor’s note: Ron always thinks that no matter how unlikely). 
  “I used to babysit you when your parents moved over to Paris Street when you were about five years old,” said Mrs. S. 
  It was true! My parents did move one street over from Mrs. S when I was five years old! I inquired with a tone of inquisitive surprise 
  So, I have been here before?, I said. 
  “Yes, several times. You played here in the den and out in the yard with a couple of other kids,” said Mrs. S.
  Then the important question... ”So the car was here the whole time?,” I asked. It was. I knew it looked familiar! (editor’s note: No, it didn’t. That took Ron by complete surprise.) 
  So, instead of saying salutations like, “Nice to meet you,” I was pleased to say, “In that case, great to see you again.”  The déjà vu of classic cars and nice people. It was comforting to hear her say “They always come back.” Yes we do.

Ron Kidd
Junkyard Life

“And I feel like I’ve been here before”Déjà vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Fairlane 500 hub caps, all intact and in great shape.

 Ron’s 1967 Ford Fairlane Fun Facts:
  • Though not a 1967 fact, Ford introduced us to the Fairlane name in 1955.
  • Affluent people often named their estates. The car was named after Henry Ford’s estate in Michigan “Fair Lane”.
  • The 1967 model was the last of the fifth generation Fairlane models. Changes occurred to the Fairlane in 1968. 
  • It was rumored that Ford produced 57 super hot 427 c.i.d Fairlanes with 425 horses to meet requirements of the NHRA and IHRA racing. Imagine how fast that would be in this chassis. 
  • May not be a fact, but it does not appear that Ford gave us a four-door hardtop. They seem to all be sedans.
  • Ford built 51,522 four-door sedans in the 500 trim level. A large chunk of the the total 238,688 Fairlanes (according to So it was not the rarest of the bunch. However, our feature car is an outstanding example.
  • The rarest Fairlane would be the 500XL convertible. Only 1,943 built.

Do you have a classic or muscle car in the yard or a barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

1967 Ford Fairlane rear bumper teases those passing by the open garage door.

Under dash air conditioning was added before a trip to Florida decades ago.

Clean lines on this one-owner 1967 Fairlane 500 in the garage.

Original Jim Skinner Ford dealer plate on the trunk lid of 1967 Ford Fairlane.

The black 1967 Ford Fairlane sits in garage surrounded by 50 years of life accumulation.

The owner was gracious to let Junkyard Life’s Ron Kidd in for the story.

Ford Fairlane 500 emblem.

The patriotic-themed grill emblem on the ’67 Fairlane represents more than it realized. (deep thoughts from Ron)

A red God loves you tag mounted on the front bumper.
A red ‘God Loves You’ tag mounted on the front bumper.

White headliner is like-new in the black 1967 Fairlane.

The mystery of the one-owner 1967 Fairlane revealed more than a good car story but a connection to a babysitter from 40 years ago.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cars in yards: 1973 Dodge Charger

The Dodge was parked in the side yard at a house near Birmingham, Alabama. The tires were sunk up to the rims in the dirt.

Mopar or No Yard. At least hide it a little better! It was not in a shed or a carport. Not covered up with a tarp or visually blocked by a vast array of refrigerator doors. It was however, rolled to the edge of the yard. The very edge. A chain link fence, the sole divider, standing to protect the Charger from drooling Mopar fans
  How could a 1973 Dodge Charger be forgotten and relegated to the far, side yard? How could anyone forget this curvy girl? 

Side view shows the beauty of the long bodied 2-door Mopar.
See the Magnum wheel I love? Complete but incomplete with a strange rear side marker light and missing engine designation emblems.

Guess what’s under the hood?
  I don’t know what resided under the flat hood. But, the hood actually is a clue. Mopars with fatter motors often had a bulge in the hood. My guess is that a standard 318-cubic-inch mill provided a good balance of torque and fuel economy for this black beauty. Bigger engine-optioned Chargers were often proudly advertised via emblems and trim. None here, but this one hopefully packed some high octane muscle, in order to live up to the “If You Can’t Run With The Big Dogs” tag under the front bumper. Or was this canine sent to the porch? 

Who knows if this Mopar had a built 440 but it appeared to be a base optioned car.
To the porch we go!

Magnum shoes
  It was wearing at least one of my favorite Mopar wheels – the famed Magnum 500. It also had a way cool red stripe that does seem like it could be factory. The stripe broke up the sea of black sheet metal with a splash of color. It reminded me of the wide Rallye stripe that Dodge Charger made famous. Keep in mind this could be considered subtle when compared to the “High Impact” colors Dodge unleashed a few years prior to 1973. We could say with authoritative certainty this was not Panther Pink or Limelight Green. 

Hideaway headlights were no longer available on 1973 Chargers.
In order from left to right. Road, Ron, fence... 1973 Dodge Charger.

No hiding

  1973 was the year that Charger lost its hide-away headlights, but it did have an option package denoting a Special Edition known as the “SE”. That option gave the buyer a slotted rear side window where an ‘opera’ window would be located in other makes. Some Chargers also had a nifty hood ornament. Junkyard Life digs hood ornaments. 
  We can tell from the roof that this car was not an SE, although it does appear to once have worn a vinyl roof. We could not verify if the Charger had high back bucket seats or a bench with a sporty look. But Dodge fans may be able to help us identify them with one glance. Send us a comment/email.

  This Charger did not appear to be too far gone. Yes, it was rough around the edges. I would do floor pans, brakes, a 440, a primer hood, a touched-up set of Magnums and let this Dodge Charge! Again…what was it doing here????

Happy Hunting!
Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Old cars are always on our mind at Junkyard Life.
We found this 1973 Dodge Charger in a side yard near Birmingham, Alabama.

Do you have a classic or muscle car in the yard or a barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ford Explorer misses out on million mile quest, destroyed by parking fail, tree wreck

Lucky that the vintage Yellowstone camper did not suffer damage.

Down, down, and totally out. Ron Kidd had a very bad day. His Ford Explorer took a hit from a neighbor’s tree. A hit so big, that it popped out both headlights, broke the rear door glass, puncture the windshield, destroyed the A-pillar, wrinkled the door, hood, fenders, roof, and planted a family of feral cats in the front seat. 
  Ron, as you can see, is very attached to the 4-wheel-drive Ford that carried him 350,000+ miles. That’s 14-times around the earth! I had no doubts that, in Ron’s care, the Explorer would eclipse 1 million miles on the odometer.
  “I had just parked it in the backyard,” said our woeful junkyard hero, Ron Kidd.

Love is a highway, but the Old Gray Mare is...
  Sure, Ron had swapped out the engine at least once. A junkyard engine, no less. Always kept fresh rubber on the wheels, A/C charged, fresh plugs, and the latest... ok, not the latest, tunes on the radio. The Explorer was his go-to, heavy-hitter. Always there for junkyard adventures. No job too big or dirty. Could this be the end of the road?  

Uh, Yes
  The insurance adjuster gave him the bad news. Total loss. It was a somber day for a guy who considers his cars a part of the family.
  He’s thankful that the tree didn’t take a swipe at his vintage Yellowstone camper. Maybe, just maybe, Ron can get by with one of the, seven-or-so, other vehicles in his stable?

The Ford was totalled by the significant damage to all sides except the rear tailgate.
The Ford Explorer was totaled by significant damage to all sides except the rear tailgate. A-pillar caved beneath the weight of the tree and wrapped over the hood on both sides.

Note: Four wild, stray cats bolted out all of the Explorer’s windows and doors when I moved in for a look at the damage. Yikes!
* No animals were harmed while taking the photo.  

Do you have a crushed car or a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at