Thanking Quentin Tarantino - a 1968 Ford Fairlane Brought Back to Life


Inspiration comes from many places. After watching Hollywood writers/directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez' double feature movie, Grind House, Classic Industries' customer Clark Hogan decided to purchase a muscle car. Clark saw Grind House back in 2007. At the time, he had just sold a 1998 Ducati and a 900 Chromo and thought he could fill an adrenalin rush void in his heart and soul with a powerful four-wheel muscle car, as opposed to dodging bad drivers when riding his two hyper fast, exotic motorcycles. His wife likely also approved of such a wise choice.

The Search Begins for an American Muscle Car 


Looking for the usual popular American muscle cars, the search began in earnest on eBay for a: Chevelle, Camaro, Mustang, Charger, etc. But even back then for anything in reasonable low rust, decent paint, solid runner condition, the price range was in the high-rent territory of $15K to $40K. Clark altered his search parameters by looking for anything from 1965 to 1975 in the $5K to $15K ballpark. Low and behold a bunch of Ford Fairlane's popped up on his eBay search feed.


A Bargain - 1968 Ford Fairlane Found & Bought

Clark drove from Los Angeles to Whittier to test drive this very 1968 Fairlane. Though the owner was asking $12K, he countered with $7K. The owner shook Clark's hand so fast that he attempted to counter again at $6K. Clark learned that two other eBay offers had fallen through, because the buyers didn't qualify for financing. It was a Saturday afternoon, with all the banks closed. Clark managed to pay through PayPal, which the Ford's owner had never used. 


The Fairlane had its manufactured with '68 Ford 302-cubic inch V8 and a C4 three-speed automatic transmission, which Clark drove for the next seven years. With headers and Flowmaster mufflers, the exhaust note was sound, as were the notes emanating from a decent stereo that Clark installed. But the engine began to burn oil, blow smoke, and the auto trans began to slip. Either some engine and trans work were in order or swapping in a different engine and trans would remedy the Fairlane's increasing mechanical issues. 


Tremec Five-Speed Manual Shifts Smooth & Precise

The transmission part of the drivetrain equation was an easy choice. He sourced a Tremec five-speed manual trans. For the engine, a 'friend' recommended that a nearby shop with an advertised rare race spec 406 FE mill that was recently rebuilt would make for a perfect engine swap for the Ford Fairlane. 


Ford FE V8 Big Block Mill a Bit of a Prima Donna

Regrettably, the so-called engine rebuilding shop didn't know what the heck they were doing. The Fairlane was in their shop for two years with them trial and error shoehorning the engine/trans/exhaust system into the engine bay. Once Clark finally drove the Fairlane out of the so-called race engine building garage, the big block V8 was temperamental. With the Holley double pumper carb and the aggressive, lumpy cam, the engine was hard to tune and wouldn't hold a tune with a reasonable idle.

Later, at about the same time that the engine was leaking oil out of the intake manifold and cylinders, the shop went out of business. Another shop pulled the engine and learned that the engine was really just a 390-cubic inch Ford truck engine by measuring its bore and stroke. Ford's engine and cylinder head stampings from that era were commonly mistaken for that of the 406 FE mill, as they were similar. The new shop discovered that the connecting rod caps were loose enough that one or more may be grenading through the block soon. The rings were poorly fit, and the engine was coming apart in general. Clark had the new shop rebuild the engine again and had them replace the Holley carb with an Atomic EFI system.  


More Issues with the FE V8 Engine

Taking these actions still didn't resolve the challenges with the mill. The shop dyno'ed the engine and learned that the oil passages in the short block hadn't been relieved to accommodate the installation of the high-volume oil pumps for either of the mill's two engine rebuilds. They guessed that all the oil was filling up within the valve covers and not lubricating the rest of the engine. Even worse, the engine began to develop a noise that sounded like a rod knock. 


FE Big Block Ford V8 Engine Saved at the 11th Hour

At this point, Clark had just about given up on the 390 FE block. He sourced a 351 Windsor small-block V8 that the third engine builder he was working with was going to build into a 406-cubic inch stroker mill. After quoting $30K in parts and labor to do the work, the shop suddenly backed out of the deal. Clark was actually okay with that since that amount of money was more than he wanted to pay anyway. As if on cue, the rod knock in the 390 FE went silent. 

Ten years after installing the throttle body EFI system, and having the Fairlane strand him at times, Clark realized that he had to learn all about timing, air/fuel mixture, fuel amps, power valve settings, accelerator pump, and etc. himself to absolutely get the car dialed in and running well. Thanks to some help from MSD on the company's tech support chat line, in the last two months he has been able to get the drivetrain running great. The Fairlane finally runs like the muscle machine Ford meant it to be, and it's an absolute thrill to drive. 

Classic Industries Has Ford Fairlane Parts - More Each Day

Regardless of whether you have a 1959 Fairlane that has tail fins, or a '68 coupe like Clark's that is built to be a fly-under-the-radar sleeper, you may rest easy in the fact that Classic Industries is adding more Ford Fairlane parts and accessories online almost all the time. Simply click the button below to visit Classic Industries and start seeking those must-have Fairlane components.

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Classic Industries Articles Archive Library

Should you need inspiration or help in your search for what muscle car you'd like to purchase, you'll find a great deal of information from these three articles: