Like it or not, it seems everybody and his brother loves a ponycar. Yeah, granted, there's a whole lot of today's youth who get off on the rule of fours-as in the number of drive wheels, doors, and cylinders-but hey, no brain, no pain, right? The people we're talking about are ones who appreciate any or all of the following attributes: timeless styling, V-8 power, straightforward wrenching, parts availability, and more. Beyond this, people who aren't even car enthusiasts seem to love ponycars-think of your girlfriend, mother, or that guy pumping gas next to you. Alas, such affection comes as a double-edged sword, for as great as it is to be popular, we all crave an element of uniqueness.
This is where Bill Barnes and his sweet-looking '66 Fairlane come in. Noncar types are unlikely to love it-in fact, they probably won't even see much beyond the shiny paint. No matter, for to people like you and me, it's a sight for sore eyes. Simply put, the '66/'67 Fairlane is no ponycar, but rather an intermediate that qualifies as one of the best ever spawned by Dearborn. Heck, we'd even go so far as to say it's one of the best intermediates to come from Detroit-period. Not only does the Fairlane have lean, first-class lines, but it's also a pedigreed competitor, which adds immeasurably to the whole package. Legendary names such as Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti, Cale Yarborough, and Bobby Allison rode this platform to victory in NASCAR Stock Car racing, while over at the NHRA, 427 models were tough competitors and periodic national record holders in several Stock and Super Stock classes.
So why the big deal comparing ponycar and Fairlane? Well, it was the decision Bill faced way back in 1966 because, that's right, he's the original owner of this high-powered GTA model. Forty-plus years of ownership yield plenty of interesting stories, but the one that had us most curious was how he arrived at a decision on the Fairlane to begin with. Consider the times-so much muscle and a million Mustangs sold by 1966. "I never considered any other musclecar makes, not that there weren't a lot of good cars from the other brands, rather because I've just always liked Fords the best," Bill says. "I never considered the Mustang because I've never liked small cars. In fact, the Fairlane was on the edge of almost too small for me. I had been looking at used '62-'64 Galaxies with 390s and 406s and hadn't heard of the Fairlane GT/GTA until I saw a commercial one Sunday night while watching the Wonderful World of Disney. (We remember. -Ed.) Within a few days, I went to Tallakson Ford in Seattle, where they had a dark blue GT on display. I placed an order that night."
Bill and his wife, Marilyn, made daily use of their Fairlane for many years-a true grocery getter. You wouldn't know by looking, but the car had more than 180,000 miles under its belt when we got together for our photo session. Bringing it to its current glorious state was done in stages, the first being a respray of the original Raven Black hue in DuPont urethane in 1989. That's completely glossing over the substantial metalwork required to remedy the results of a long-leaky rear window, but we won't bore you with the oxidized details. More daily driving followed for several years, but when the GTA was finally retired in the late '90s, it was hardly destined for a rest home. Instead, Bill figured he had the green light for modification, and it didn't take long for a transformation to take shape.