Ford Fairlane ZH

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Ford Fairlane

Ford Fairlane ZH

1976 - 1979
302 / 351ci V8
220/290 bhp
3 spd. auto
Top Speed:
180 km/h
Number Built:
22,982 Fairlane 500's
2 star
Ford Fairlane ZH
The ZH was Ford's answer to all the citiscism of its predecessors. While again retaining the central structure of the XC Falcon, the designers put much extra bulk into the car, not only giving it a big car look, but also actually lengthening it as well.

It may have appeared as a radical increase to the amount of sheet metal over previous Fairlane's, however the Ford designers needed to regain a huge slump in Fairlane sales, coming off a high of 50.3 percent to an all time low of 27 percent in the early part of 1976.

The design relied heavily on that of US built Ford luxury cars, big, bold and imposing. The equipment list was also improved, standard fitment now including steel-belted radial tires, a limited slip diff, rear disc brakes and intermittent wipers.

The "Custom" model was dropped, the 500 now becoming the "entry level" Fairlane. The new Marquis model was the up-market offering, it coming standard with air conditioning, power windows and twin "lounge" seats up front, both with individual arm-rests, but allowing a third passenger to be accomodated if required.

The impressive front end combined well with an elegant rear styling treatment, the redesigned Falcon XC rear doors with a lower upsweep removed the previous coke bottle style and allowed not only a more airy interior feel, but gave the car a modern, square shouldered look. Inside, the redesigned instrument panel was for the first time made from plastic.

To broaden the appeal of the big Ford, a limited edition "Sportsman" model was released, it featuring a color-keyed vinyl roof, chrome plated door mirrors and Volante alloy wheels. For those living in the country, Ford introduced an "Outback Country Suspension Kit", which included a factory fitted tow bar and 128 liter long range fuel tank, along with firmer heavy duty suspension.

There was little to criticise about the ZH Fairlane, although the boot was too shallow and small for a car of its size, and the imposition of the petrol filler made matters worse. Nevertheless the design was bold and elegant, and it for a time arrested the slump in Fairlane sales. Updates in May 1978 saw changes to the carburetor in an attempt to reduce fuel consumption, while the Marquis was now fitted with six-way power adjustable front seats. The ZH was manufactured between May 1976 and May 1979.

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Also see:

Fairlane ZH Specifications
Falcon/Fairlane Identification Guide
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