1967 Ford Fairlane (aka 'La Pantera Peruana')

Well, we finally got to working in Peru after years of thinking, planning, consulting, slogging through a pandemic, and so on. So by Sept. 2021 we had finally arrived, and being a compulsive spannerer I knew I would need some sort of mechanical project, as I love metaphors for redemption and resurrection (the Bible's framework will do that to a man). My good wife (I have only one, just to be clear), who has tolerated all sorts of motorcycle projects in the past, was quite clear that she didn't want me motorcycling around Arequipa, where we live in Peru's southern Andes. Can't really blame her, either; the streets are rough, the kerbs made of basalt, and the traffic fairly lawless and uncompromising.

So that meant no motorcycle projects... because we all know that if I was to restore one, then of course I would be tempted beyond what I could bear and ride the thing. So this meant I was either looking for (i) an ex-military helicopter, or (ii) something with four wheels.

I had noticed quite a few promising options quietly rotting under their layers of volcanic dust around the streets of Arequipa, but the problem with most of these jalopies is that they have no paperwork. And having the correct paperwork here in Peru is *very* important, esp. if you are an extranjero like me. Without the paperwork, you can't prove you are the owner, and so if they day ever comes when you face a roadside check of your paperwork, then you could end up simply having the vehicle confiscated. And also, if the day ever comes when you want to export the vehicle, you've got no chance of getting it out of the country.

     Above: Here's one such jalopy: GMC cab, Ford tray, early Volkswagen wheels, flathead Ford V8 donk.
     I did enquire about this beastie but the owner said it was his next project. Good man!

So I started trawling a few Peruvian online car sale sites. I was quite open-minded about possibilities, but was already leaning in the direction of a pre-80's F100 or something like that. But then what should I spy but a 1967 Ford Fairlane, for which the owner claimed he had all the correct paperwork. I went and checked the car out, and happily it was mostly all there and -- even better -- also needing a ton of work! This would guarantee hours (decades?) of spannering, problem solving, and the satisfaction of knowing that anything I did to it would pull it back from the brink of oblivion. The motor (original 289 V8) started easily, ran smoothly, and no smoke!

Next step was to co-opt Peruvian mate Carlos, jack-of-all-trades and master of about 15. He checked over the paperwork (as I didn't have a clue as to what constituted correct paperwork or not), declared it all pukka, helped negotiate a bit of a discount, and the deal was done!

Next day with Carlos at the wheel (I hadn't yet run the gauntlet of getting my Peruvian drivers licence) we drove the Fairlane back to my place (video courtesy of Annabell, daughter of previous owner):

I use the term "drove" rather loosely, as it kept on conking out -- and so at one point I had the crazy fun of pushing my own yank tank through the occasional intersection while Carlos chuckled away in the driver's seat, much to the delight of all the Peruvian spectators! Thankfully the return trip was mostly downhill and old Fairlanes respond to gravity rather well.

Naturally, after getting it home I hooked into the fuel system. The previous owner, trying to enhance the beast's fuel economy, had installed a carbie from a Daewoo Tico. That's right, a carbie from a 0.8 litre engine, grafted onto a 4.7 litre engine... I'm sure he got his increase in fuel economy, but let me assure you it was at the expense of just about everything else! Thankfully the original carbie -- an Autolite 2BBL -- came with the car, so I managed to find a refurb. kit for that and back in it went. The other major thing to address was that, for some reason (soon to become clear) the fuel tank had been disconnected, and a small 3-gallon homemade fuel tank installed in the boot (trunk). This was ditched, as it was very good at filling the boot space with petrol fumes, and no way would I want to light up a Cuban cigar anywhere near that.

I pulled out the fuel tank and checked it over. It was almost spotless inside, and I was wondering why it might have been decommissioned when what did I see but a cracked solder joint around the fuel line spout, where it entered the sender unit cap. That was easily fixed, sender reinstalled, fuel tank filled, and yes now it is fuel tight once again.

Of course, the smooth-running motor was a short-lived phenomenon. It started running rough, missing, etc. and so it was time to dive into the ignition system. The more I poked around the motor, the more I realised that despite being 55 years old, there was so much of the original factory equipment still present with "FoMoCo" logos everywhere. Yes, all looked original in the ignition department too, so I just replaced the lot... leads, plugs, coil, rotor button, dist. cap, points, condenser -- I just went to town. I also dismantled and cleaned the dizzy; a little bit of free play evident in the shaft but nothing excessive. After working my way through all that, we had a smooth runner once again.

Since buying the old tank I have tackled all sorts of other things, too: fresh wiring from the fuel tank sender, repaired the front seat adjustment mechanism, reco'd the water pump, some fine tuning of the carburetor, new set of (all terrain!) tyres, fabricated a retainer for the spare tyre in the boot, etc. Fixes in the near future include a proper set of seat belts, new shockies all 'round, new exhaust system, conversion to floor shift (from the worn out and hopeless column shift) -- just to name a few. The cosmetics will be the last cab off the rank!

Above: poking around under the hood with Carlos.

16th Aug. 2022...  Well, apart from all the shockies being utterly flogged out, the fact that the driver's side front shock was also completely disconnected from the suspension wishbone wouldn't have helped to reduce the pogo-stick effect! In the end I couldn't find exactly the shocks I wanted here in Arequipa, but I did get a set of front and rear that only needed a bit of modification to install. Now I'm just waiting on the arrival of the gear shift conversion kit (from the column to the floor) and then we can start cruising the town Stay tuned!

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