Chassis number: 6K47C182142

This very unique car has received a full rotisserie restoration. It’s been given the name of “The American Flyer” because it represents a true Americana vintage-style drag car. It’s been upgraded with a 390-ci V8, 4-speed manual transmission and a 4.11 Posi nine-inch rear end.

The car sports a beautiful, laser-straight black paint job and factory black bucket seat interior. The 390 motor is completely rebuilt. The Toploader 4-speed transmission is fresh and out of a true ’66 “S code” Fairlane.

The one-off parts include a set of custom headers, as well as custom ladder bars and roll bar. This car is street legal.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1966 Ford Fairlane 500 XL Gasser
Years Produced:1955–70
Number Produced:75,947 (1966)
Original List Price:$2,892
SCM Valuation:$12,000–$20,000
Tune Up Cost:$200
Distributor Caps:$14
Chassis Number Location:Located on top of dash, visible through windshield
Engine Number Location:On passenger side of block, behind starter (casting number only)
Club Info:Fairlane Club of America, 340 Clicktown Road, Church Hill, TN, 37642
Alternatives:1961 Chevrolet Bel Air 409, 1964 Ford Thunderbolt, 1941 Willys Gasser
Investment Grade:C

This 1966 Ford Fairlane Gasser, Lot 1560, sold for $38,500, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, AZ, on January 21, 2012.

This is the type of car that makes my job diffi cult. I should be able to simply state that this 1966 Ford Fairlane was way too expensive for a car that’s a misrepresentation of what a Gasser really should be. I should be able to say that if the buyer wanted a nice Fairlane for cruising or a legitimate Friday night drag-mobile, more appropriate examples were present.

Trouble is, I don’t agree with any of that.

Nose up

Dubbed “Gassers” for the fairly obvious reason that they run on gasoline, the Gas classes were some of the very fi rst the NHRA started in the mid-1950s. Like the Dry Lakes racers that inspired the nationwide infection of speed and ingenuity, Gassers were typically built from undesirable cars that were not only multi-purposed and inexpensive, but accessible as well.

Even the distinctive straight axles and nose-high attitudes that so unmistakably defined the Gassers were simply early and cheap attempts at managing every drag racer’s two worst enemies: vehicle weight and weight transfer.

Required to have working lights, windshield wipers, starters, and even current registration and tags, the cars that filled the staging lanes with the /G or /GS moniker on their windows were the street machines of their day. The cars were often driven on the street, driven to the track — and then fl ogged unmercifully.

The end of an era

Participation, competition, and fan interest in the Gas classes had grown considerably by 1960, and so had the ever-constant pursuit of advantage. Slowly, the rules began to change, and the cars became more radical and purposeful.

By 1966 — the year this particular Fairlane came to life — “Big John” Mazmanian; the Stone, Woods & Cook team; K.S. Pittman; “Ohio” George Montgomery; and the rest of the Gasser superstars were in the twilight of their era. The younger, lighter, and more aerodynamic pony cars, and to a lesser extent the Fairlane itself, were beginning to emerge. As a result, the raucous, wheelstanding Gasser heroes were fi nding themselves outgunned. Likewise, improvements in chassis and tire technology quickly deemed the sky-high nose — and the street-fighter persona it implied — irrelevant.

A three-dollar bill

So why would anyone build this car this way? Well, following rules is rarely considered a strong suit of the hot-rod and drag-race crowds, so the most obvious answer would simply be: “Why not?” It’s completely plausible, although unlikely, that this car could have been built this way in the late 1960s. It’s not so diffi cult to imagine a young, brash racer with a pocketful of money to burn on a Gasser obsession.

Although it is easy to imagine our young racer suffering through parental scolding — and older local racers seeing him as a roaring blur of misplaced enthusiasm — it’s hard to argue with this car’s component selection. A tunnel-ram with two-fours feeding 390 cubic inches does a lot of talking without even saying a word, and harnessing that beast to a 4-gear beatin’ stick turning 4.11s is any hot rodder’s snowy Christmas morning with a red bow on top. This is the type of setup that separates the men from the boys, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Evolved performance

As technology and manufacturing processes continue to improve, our lives as racers and hot rodders become easier every day. Crate engines, CNC mills and online shopping have made 500 horsepower mundane, 750 horsepower pedestrian, and 1,000 horsepower commonplace. How fast you can go depends entirely on how much money you have.

I’m intrigued with the new Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs and Challengers — and their seemingly effortless combination of performance and drivability, but I can’t say that I find myself inspired. Instead, I’m inspired by cars that can be described accurately, and without exaggeration, as rude. And that’s just what this car is.

Old-school cool

The historian, the purist and the rationalist in me can’t help but look at this car as a misguided attempt to capitalize on the current resurgence of popularity that the true Gassers are experiencing in the market. But the hot rodder, the burnout maniac and the hooligan in me just can’t stop thinking about suckerpunching that 4-speed, terrifying my neighbors with those open headers, and confi rming all of my motherin- law’s worst fears about me.

As a purposeful racer with no concessions for comfort or usability, this Fairlane will be a handful to drive. But for some, like me, the appeal is in the visceral experience. Just imagine the fury of dumping the clutch at 4,000 rpm, power-shifting the Toploader, and trying to keep the car pointed straight down the quarter-mile.

Gassers of the ’50s and ’60s occupy very signifi – cant chapters in the histories of both American drag racing and American hot rodding, and their historical signifi cance is not up for debate.

What is up for debate is whether $38,500 is a fair price to pay for a non-storied, unauthentic Gasser re-creation that works hard to bridge the gap between then and now. Considering the money paid probably failed to cover the cost of the build, I would say the new owner is ahead based solely on the sum of the parts. Add in the curb appeal of an angry, mechanical gorilla, and I’d guess the new owner was smiling all the way to the bank. Well bought

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