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My 1962 Ford Fairlane 500 Compact

However, the 1962 Ford Fairlane 500 Compact is in pieces in Dinte's garage and he says he is running out of time to have it back on the road by January when he will have owned it 40 years.

"I would like to have it back on the road by then but I don't think I can," he says.  "It had done 26 trips to Sydney in one year by the original owners, a Gold Coast real estate company, and I've had it around the odo a couple of times myself.

"I've even taken photos of it going back to zero twice.  "It's done half a million miles (800,00km) easy and there's another half million miles in it."

The 64-year-old retired computer store manager used to own a bodyshop years ago and has always been mechanically minded, so he has stripped the Fairlane back to a shell and its various parts for a much-needed complete restoration.

It should be a perfect job, too, because his garage also plays host to an immaculate 1966 Ford Galaxie 500.  "I did everything except reconditioning the power steering, the upholstery and the diff," he says.

His wife, Carole, points out that she helped: "I'm usually on the other end of the pulley block holding the engine."  Dinte joined the Queensland American Ford V8 Club in 1985 when there were just seven members, but he hasn't hasn't always been a Ford fan.

"I had an FC Holden and rolled it in 1969 after hitting a lamp post," he explains.  "Three days later it was back on the road but it was dangerous to drive the wife and kids around, so I bought the '62 and I've had it now 40 years. 

"It's been a brilliant car. Tough as blazes.  A Toyota Corolla ran into it and the Toyota was a write-off. We spent $28 to straighten out the Fairlane."

The Fairlane came with a 221 cubic inch (3.6-litre) V8, but Dinte has replaced it with a 289 (4.7L) Windsor.  He has also updated the four-speed auto with an electronic gearbox and added cruise control and remote key entry.

"It just idles along at 100km/h doing 2000rpm," he says.  "They talk about old cars being not very environmentally friendly but I used to get 26mpg (9L/1200km) and I'm hoping to get 28-29 (8.5L/100km) when it's done.

"I just want to live long enough to get a bit of work out of it."  Meanwhile, he takes his Galaxie 500 on club runs every few weeks with his wife, Carole.

Although it's called a 500, it features a 390 V8 big block with three-speed auto and a tall-ratio diff.  "They knew how to build them in those days," he says.  "It's a lazy old engine but by jeez they go."

He bought it 16 years ago for about $9000 and has had it on the road since 2001.  "I had ordered a car from the US and it never turned up. The importer reckoned the container it was in `fell off the ship' on the way over," he explains.

"I rang the police and they said you'd better go to Victoria to front the guy who was importing it, so I did and I put a bit of pressure on him and ended up with this car.  It was already converted to right-hand drive but I had to do a fair bit of work on it.  I stopped restoring it at about $32,000 but I could easily spend another $5000."

Getting in the way of the Fairlane restoration is another resto project, a 1985 Chevy motorhome.  "You have to be careful with cross contamination with the Fords," he jokes.  "Parking these big Fords is easy after the motorhome."

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