We've all seen those business cards that itemize the owner's talents such as riots started, coups quelled, expertise with automatic weapons, tree huggers humiliated, Prius owners vilified, lost dogs recovered, and maybe a little life insurance on the side. When we met Dan Tallant at the Des Moines, Iowa, Goodguys show, he handed us a card that listed his shop's talents, which included chassis fabrication, Pro Street setups, and chopped tops.
With a business card like that, you might think that his favorite machine would be some exotic Pro Street car with every in-vogue accouterment. Instead, what attracted our attention was this ultraclean '66 Fairlane that looked like every Ford guy's idea of the perfect street machine. Dan decided to build this car for his father-in-law, Brian Lewis, which would also serve as a great calling card for Dan and his father/partner Dave's abilities at Tallant's Hot Rods in North Kansas City, Missouri (tallantsauto.com).
It's all here if you take the time to pay attention to this machine's purpose. Think low, clean, and simple, and every detail will reinforce those key words. Most Ford guys seem to gravitate toward big-blocks, so we expected to see an oversized FE between the framerails, but the idea behind this Fairlane was to make it more of a driver. "I built this car for my father-in-law, Brian, but actually my mom drives it about 90 percent of time." To that end, it had to be conservative yet still make a statement. The subtlety comes by way of a mild 351W motor. At first glance, the engine compartment appears street-machine typical, with a smoothed firewall bathed in body color. But questions arise when you realize what makes this engine compartment work so well isn't what's there, but what isn't.
Ford's Fairlane was built using a similar unibody concept to the early Mustangs. These midsize machines were tortured with the same shock-tower front-suspension system as Ford's ponycars. Not only was this stock suspension underwhelming from a handling standpoint; it also intruded heavily into the engine compartment. But those massive shock towers were missing when Dan popped the hood, which prompted a whole discussion on the Air Ride and Mustang II-inspired suspension. Dan chose to reveal his shop's ability in a subtle way by slamming the Fairlane on the ground with Air Ride pieces coupled with a rack-and-pinion steering for the front and a complete Air Ride triangulated four-link trailing-arm suspension in the rear.
The plan was to build a car that would both ride nicely and perform even at rocker-panel-scraping ride heights. "You can actually drive this car with the airbags all the way down," Dan says. The proof of that statement can be found if you note the minor camber angle of the front tires even with the ride height at full belly-slam height. This required tweaking quite a few components, including the engine crossmember and raising the engine 211/42 inches. That move cannot be taken lightly since it required slicing and raising the tunnel to clear the transmission. Dan also fabricated new inner fenderwells in the front after the original shock towers were removed, which allowed much more room to lay this Fairlane low.
The 351W supplies more than enough motivation to run this red rogue down the road complete with a Ford AOD overdrive behind it through a Ford 9-inch with 4.11:1 gears. This makes for a pleasant cruise through the countryside in overdrive, where the engine doesn't have to sing at 4,000 rpm to keep up with traffic. Dan also went to the effort of putting 11-inch discs on the front, just to make sure Mom can pull it down from highway speeds when necessary. All this rolls on a set of ubiquitous American Racing Torq-Thrust II wheels with 16s in the front and larger 17s in the rear. Dan kept the tire sizes conservative mainly so that he could play the slam game whenever necessary.