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						66 Fairlane Rcode 4

1966 Ford Fairlane 500 R-Code

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Streetside Classics

Ford was in the thick of its new “Total Performance” marketing effort by 1966, with special Shelby-tuned Mustangs and Cobras available for road racing, along with the new Le Mans G.T.40 program in full effect. To cater to the blue-collar crowd, Ford had a slew of special NASCAR and drag racing programs in effect, but considering Ford’s NASCAR boycott in 1966, Dearborn needed a real ringer with the drag racing crowd. Luckily the code wasn’t too hard to crack, especially with the race proven 427 FE in the stable.

There was no shortage of heat in the Stock drag racing classes by the mid-1960s. Everyone from Chevrolet, to Buick, Pontiac, Ford and Chrysler had been throwing their largest displacement engines in their premium full sizers for years, then mother Mopar and others got wise to the weight advantage of the intermediates. The game got dirty from there, with nearly all the manufacturers offering stripped down, featherweight race-only models with every conceivable form of weight savings from Swiss-cheese frames, to Lexan windows, fiberglass hoods and thin-gauge alloy panels. But when it came to the 1966 Fairlane R-Code, Ford kept the formula pretty simple.

Ford officially named the new-for-1966 model the Fairlane XL500 427, but it soon took on the more ominous moniker the Ford Fairlane 500 R-Code. The meat and potatoes of the program was the 500 hp-capable 427 side-oiler engine with 11.6:1 compression, equipped with a medium-riser intake manifold, two Holley 710 cfm carburetors and an Autolite single-point mechanical-advance distributor. Ford officially rated the package at 425 hp and 480 lb-ft, likely far short of its actual output.

The rest of the 500 R-Code package was a bit more reserved than previous efforts. The cockpit featured a standard bench seating instead of stripped-down buckets, and the doors had actual glass in them. Bumpers, fenders and other body components were all pretty standard fare with the exception of the scooped fiberglass lift-off hood, meaning the R-Code hedged its bets on the Fairlane’s inherent low weight and the brutish power of the 7.0-liter mill. Every example rolled off the line identical from tip to tail, wearing sedate Wimbledon white paint, color-matched steel wheels and Firestone Sup-R-Belt red-stripe rubber. Interiors were black vinyl with a floor-shifted TopLoader four-speed feeding a 3.89:1 ratio 9-inch axle.

Ford built a total of just 57 Fairlane R-Codes for ’66, just over the NHRA’s 50-unit threshold, and nearly every example was spoken for before it was built. These cars descended on Super Stock A and B classes like wild fire, capable of quarter-mile times deep into the 11s.

Given the “controlled acceleration trials only” nature of these automobiles, it’s pretty hard to find one of these rare 500 R-Codes today with its original gear. Offered by Streetside Classics Charlotte, North Carolina, this ’66 R-Code offers a high degree of originality and documentation. While its original side-oiler block must have suffered a catastrophic failure at some point in its life, a date-correct 12/21/65 casting block was sourced for the car, and rebuilt using its original medium-riser intake, 710 cfm Holleys and cast exhaust manifolds. The original interior is just as spartan as the day she was born, with only a steering wheel, TopLoader four-speed and three pedals to get you down the 1,320.

Born as number 52 of 57 units, this 1966 Fairlane 500 R-Code is one of a precious few original condition cars still in existence. It’s offered with documentation, correspondence forms and its original window sticker for $199,995 here at Streetside Classics.

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