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Used Ford Fairlane review: 1995-1996

Back in the 1960s when Ford released the first locally designed Fairlane there was nothing better, or bigger, than the biggest Ford. It was a measure of success, in business, or down on the farm.

Today it’s no longer alone at the top end of the town, it now has plenty of company at head office, but it still offers the very same qualities it did when it was the head rooster.

The Fairlane formula was simple, and like most simple things, it was also very successful. The first Fairlanes to be sold here were based on Canadian models, there was the ‘tank’ model from 1959, replaced by the ‘Compact’ in 1963, which in turn was replaced by the ‘Aussie’ Fairlane in 1967.

To create the local Fairlane Ford simply took the Falcon platform, then the Mustang-bred XR, and stretched the wheelbase to substantially increase the rear seat room, then lengthened the rear to produce a huge boot.

In the mid-1960s it was unrivalled for luxury motoring. Holden tried to match the big Ford with, first the Brougham, then the Statesman, but neither managed to make serious inroads into the Fairlane’s domination.

By the mid-1990s, when the NF Fairlane came on the scene, Holden’s Statesman had managed to claw its way into the lead, and the Fairlane was battling back.

MODEL WATCH

The 1995 NF followed the traditional Fairlane formula in that it was based on the current Falcon, in this case the EF.

Ford invested $220 million in the EF in an effort to make up some ground lost to Commodore as Holden sales recovered from the disastrous 1980s, and spent another $30 million on the long wheelbase models once the Falcon was up and running.

Although based on the Falcon previous Fairlanes had been more distinct than the NF, which used the same front end sheetmetal as the EF Fairmont. The result was that the NF was shorter in the nose than most previous Fairlanes, but it still had the roomy rear seat, and large boot, which were seen as the key features of a local luxury model. All up the NF Fairlane was 98 mm shorter than the car it replaced.

For the first time Ford adopted what they called a ‘High Jewel’ effect, which in effect meant more chrome and stainless steel trim, and clear turn signal lamp lenses. Central to the theme was the bright chrome grille, which combined with bright window mouldings and numerous chrome strips for sparkling highlights.

Inside there were new trim fabrics, leather if you could afford it, and make believe woodgrain panels for added touches of prestige. There was a long list of features, from improved audio systems, a CD stacker, climate-controlled air-conditioning, cup holders, and an airbag for the driver.

Based on the Falcon as it was, the NF Fairlane got the same mechanical improvements that went into the EF Falcon. That meant more responsive handling, with less of the roll-steer that was so apparent in earlier Falcons and made them wander about as they followed the profile of the road.

The suspension was the same combination of wishbones at the front and live axle with Watts Linkage at the rear, but in the Fairlane it was tuned more towards a refined ride than sporty handling.

When you bought a Fairlane you expected a smooth ride, and didn’t necessarily worry about handling precision, but despite its obvious bulk the big Ford still handled quite well. It was quite well balanced and went where it was pointed, even if it wasn’t quite as sharp as its family Ford cousin.

Bigger brakes, in the form of thicker and larger diameter discs, with ABS, resulted in a firmer pedal feel and boosted braking performance.

Buyers could choose between Ford’s fuel-injected single overhead camshaft 4.0-litre six that gave 157 kW at 5900 revs, and 357 Nm at 3000 revs, or the optional 5.0-litre V8, which boasted 165 kW and 388 Nm.

Both engines were coupled to four-speed auto transmissions to ensure smooth progress.

Ford released the NFII in 1995, and with it came an airbag for the front seat passenger, along with a number of other detail improvements.

IN THE SHOP

With the same mechanical package the Fairlane suffers the same mechanical maladies as the Falcon.

Both engines are quite reliable, the 4.0-litre six works well on gas, but can suffer head gasket problems.

Fairlane drivelines are also reliable, the auto hangs on well into the high 100,000 kays, and the diff is tough. Listen for diff noise on high kilometre cars.

Problems with electrical components can be frustrating, and the Fairlane can suffer similar electrical gremlins as the Falcon.

Fairlanes, particularly if privately owned from new, are usually well cared for by fussy owners, and these are the ones to seek out. Others that could have come from the hire car business will be showing high mileage and should be treated with caution.

Check for a car’s history of ownership to determine if it’s been in the hire business, and service to ensure it has been serviced according to Ford’s recommendation.

LOOK FOR

• simple Falcon mechanical package

• smooth refined ride

• great rear seat room

• large boot

THE BOTTOM LINE

Local prestige model has roomy rear seat, huge boot, smooth ride, and plenty of standard features. Feels like a Falcon from the front seat, but is great if you’re a back seat driver.

RATING

60/100

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
1996 $3,600 $7,040
1995 $3,400 $6,160

View all Ford Fairlane pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$4,780
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$3,400
Highest Price
$6,160

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Ghia 4.9L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,700 – 6,050 1995 Ford Fairlane 1995 Ghia Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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