I’m very excited to have Jason Borg and his gorgeous 1966 Ford Fairlane 500 in Garage Hot Rods.
First and foremost, the Fairlane is a top notch hot rod, and Jason’s got plans to make it even better.
Second, Jason is just starting out on some big changes to the Ford and he and I are planning to provide updates in GHR as the project progresses.
And third, Jason is hot rodding the Fairlane down under in Melbourne, Australia. Google says Melbourne is 9,682 miles from Atlanta, Georgia where GHR is located. How cool is that?
I’m always interested in how people get hooked on hot rodding, and even more so when they’re in another country. Here’s what Jason told me:
“I have been into cars in general for as long as I can remember – with a preference for street rod, hot rod and muscle cars. I remember playing with Matchbox cars as a kid. My mum’s family were into cars and so I had a bit around me that was certainly an influence. As a kid I would ride my bike around to an uncle’s house where he had a project 57 Customline in the garage. I would just look at it and sit in it, letting my imagination take me on a ride.
“I had another uncle who was a mechanic that I would hang around on school holidays. He had a ‘32 Tudor and a couple of Customlines also. In the earlier days he also had a sweet black ‘56 F-100. As I got into my teen years and learning to drive, there was another uncle who let me drive his ‘71 Falcon wagon that was running a 302W with shaker hood, top loader and 9” rear. OH BOY! Things got so much more real then.”
Spending so much time with his uncles and their Fords, it’s no surprise that Jason’s a Ford guy. He also owns a 2018 Mustang GT. But his first car was an Australian built GM car, a 1967 Holden sedan. Naturally, Jason hot rodded the Holden too. It had a set of American Racing deep dish mags and a hot cam, a Holley 2 barrel, and extractors (an Aussie term for exhaust headers) on the 192 cubic inch Inline 6.
But Jason’s preference quickly turned to Fords. “When I was purchasing new cars for myself,” he told me, “I really preferred the build and engineering that Ford offered here in Australia over the GM Holden products – especially from about 2000 on when Ford introduced proper IRS and multi overhead cam engines.”
In 2003, Jason was able to purchase one of the first (build number 33) GT Falcons that Ford Performance Vehicles introduced. FPV is the performance arm of Ford in Australia.
Australia has its own manufacturing plants and car models that are built specifically for the country. Jason told me many of them are iterations of existing US designs – especially Fords. Australian Fairlanes were only offered as four door sedans. But his Fairlane is a US model that had been imported to the country.
The story of how he got the Fairlane is fantastic. I’ll let Jason tell it, accompanied by some photos taken by his friends when Jason got the car:
“I got the Fairlane in May 2020 – just as Covid was coming in. It was a surprise from my lovely lady, Danielle, for my 50th birthday.
“I had been looking at US cars for ages. It’s funny, I’ve been into cars and around classics for so long of my life, but not really owning one in my midlife. I’m a procrastinator and I like too many variants to make any sort of quick choice. There is a guy, Ben, who imports cars from the US and has a shop here in Australia. (@seven82motors on Instagram). I had met with Ben a few times. I had even contemplated paying him a fee to do a search on a 63/4 Falcon Sprint or similar, but it never eventuated as I was so busy building my garage and studio apartment on top.
“But one day I saw this Fairlane on his site. I showed Danielle a couple of times. Then Ben changed the car up a bit, lowered it and refurbed the original steel wheels and caps. It just spoke to me. It looked so cool.
“Danielle told me to just buy it, but I didn’t know enough about it nor its condition. So when I stalled, she took matters into her own hands, called Ben and spoke with my 2 brothers. Long story short, she did a deal with Ben who was an absolute champion with the care and assistance he offered Danielle. They had it transported down to my brother’s place and they all surprised me with it by inviting over the family for a dinner. They took me out to the garage to look at my brother’s ‘64 Fairlane Sports Coupe – lifted the cover off and I’m like….WHAT?!?!!!! That’s not his 64!”
[Side note: The story of Ben’s 2019 trip to the US to buy cars, the one where he obtained the Fairlane that is now Jason’s, is highly, highly, entertaining. Click here to go to read the story on Seven 82 Motors web site.]
Jason and Ben have become great friends, which is not surprising since they share so many interests. Ben has even said to Jason that if his circumstances ever change and he was to end up on the Gold Coast and in need of a job, to look him up and he’d find a place for him somewhere in his team!
And it turns out Danielle made an excellent decision. The car is in mint condition. Jason told me that except for the few changes Ben made, it’s a completely original car with just 53k miles on it.
But Jason’s a hot rodder. Changes are in the works.
“I never really had a solid vision for the car at the beginning,” he said. “I was thinking of keeping it as-is, but building a stroker Windsor just for some extra muscle. But driving it was something that I wasn’t thrilled with. It was too soft, too floaty. I like things a bit firmer and I like to express myself with modification – like my Mustang.”
Jason’s vision began to solidify when a local Ford dealership listed some surplus 5.4 Quad Cam motors for sale. I had not heard of the Quad Cam so Jason provided a little background on it.
It’s based on the cast iron 4V DOHC Boss short blocks sourced from Windsor, Ontario. But the engines include some locally sourced parts (such as intake components and the pistons), coupled with DOHC 4-valve cylinder heads from the Mustang Cobra R engine.
It has been produced in Boss 290 (which Jason had in his GT Falcon), Boss 302, and Boss 315 versions. The numbers indicate the output of the engine in kilowatts. So the 315 going into the Fairlane puts out 315 kilowatts, which equals 420 horsepower, in stock form.
The motors the Ford dealer had for sale were intended for Ford’s production line, so they came with many of the accessories needed to drop the engine into a car. Since the Boss is much larger than the 289 that was in the Fairlane, Jason has also ordered additional components from an Aussie supplier to open up some space in the engine bay and help complete the conversion. The picture below shows how much bigger the Boss is.
That Boss engine will have a TREMEC 5-speed transmission behind it. That’s another component Jason’s familiar with because he had one in his Falcon. Since the 290 and 315 engine blocks are the same the transmission will bolt right up to the engine, but it still remains to be seen what will be necessary for Jason to mount it in the Fairlane.
The TREMEC will drive the Fairlane’s solid axle rear end that will have a new differential unit in it. He hasn’t finalized the gear ratio yet, but is thinking something around 3.9. With the 5-speed, and the larger wheels Jason’s planning, that combination should work out well for highway cruising.
Major suspension mods are going to get rid of that soft, floaty feel Jason doesn’t like. He’s going to ditch the stock leaf springs and mount the rear end on an interesting 3 Link (similar to a 4 Bar) with coil overs and a Watts link. The front will also have coil overs in a strut configuration, meaning the upper control arm is removed. This allows for the shock tower to be notched which Jason’s going to need to fit the beastly large Boss engine into position.
Jason explained to me that to legally register and drive a modified car on the street in Australia, it needs to be certified by an engineer. “Not many people actually do it,” he said, “but I’d like to tick that box. I did it with my Mustang. For the certification they are quite fussy and particular with suspension mods, so I’ve tracked down a local manufacturer of these conversion parts, a company called RRS, whose components are certified to the Australian standards that I need to get my car passed.”
When I asked Jason if he was going with four wheel disc brakes his reply was “YES!!! HELL YESSS. Four BIG discs – 13.5” 2-piece rotors up front with 6 piston calipers, and 13” rotors with 6 piston calipers on the rear. I have ordered them blank, no logo, and will have them painted a graphite colour with a custom vinyl decal I have in mind that will be styled off the old 427 Eagle logo.”
The Fairlane currently has the original power steering. But Jason’s going to upgrade it to a power rack and pinion, with a collapsible tilt column, that he’s also getting from RSS.
He has not yet made a final decision on wheels and tyres, but the Ford will probably have 18” or 19” wheels. He’s not sure about the style yet either, but Jason says “I just know they’ll be 2 or 3 piece and will have a polished stepped lip like my Mustang wheels.” He used his Mustang’s wheels, which are 20″, to get an idea how bigger wheels would look.
The Fairlane’s body is all steel and all original. It’s still the original color, Emberglo, although it has been repainted. Jason told me that whoever did the repainting did a great job. He has had it ceramic coated. The chrome trim is in good shape.
The interior is really clean and completely stock. The dashboard is all original and untouched. Jason wants to add gauges so he’s thinking he’ll take out the original gauge cluster and put it away for safekeeping and replace it with a custom gauge set.
The factory bench seat and automatic transmission column shifter are still in place. Of course, Jason has to replace that column-mount with a floor shifter for the TREMEC, but he’s going to retain the bench seat. The Fairlane currently doesn’t have air conditioning, but it will get it soon. Naturally, the Ford is going to get a nice sound system, with a retro style head unit, amplifiers and 12” subwoofers for the boot.
Due to Covid lockdowns, Jason didn’t have much time to drive the car before he started working on it. (One of the few times he did, driving it to a hot rod run that he attends every year, he had a tyre blowout.) Since his Fairlane is a US model, it still has left-hand drive. I asked Jason how difficult it was to drive since Australia is one of the countries that drives on the left side of the road.
“It takes a bit of getting used to,” he replied. “You have to be conscious of positioning the car on the road. But it doesn’t take too long to get accustomed. Not that I’ve tried or needed to, but overtaking is almost impossible on your own and if you have a passenger, you need to trust their judgment.”
Once the mods are complete on the Fairlane, he’s looking forward to left-hand-driving it on casual drives, club runs, shows, cars and coffee events, and occasional trips. But it won’t see the race track. “I’m not into racing so much these days” Jason said.
In 2020, GHR featured Luke Arena’s Charger, also from Australia. Luke had told me hot rodding is big in the country. Jason said the same. “The car scene here in general is pretty big. Probably bigger than I even imagined because since I’ve been on Instagram, I’m seeing more and more cars.“
Jason’s excited about the work he’s going to do on his Fairlane, even though he knows it’s going to take a while, working on it in his spare time on weekends.
“I’m looking forward to the journey and having a car that I like and want to drive,” he said. “The old, classic, disengaged driving experience, whilst cool and period correct, was not inspiring. I want to LOVE driving it and I think the combo I have lined up will tick that box and it should look to be a bit of Pro Tourer style. Fingers crossed.”
I’ll keep my fingers crossed too, 9,682 miles away from Melbourn, but with the work, planning, and thought Jason’s put into the Fairlane already, I don’t think any luck is going to be needed.
GHR will be checking in with Jason as the project progresses. You can keep up with his work on Instagram by following his accounts @jaseybro and @jaseybro_fair_lane_change.
Photos courtesy of Jason Borg
Click here to see more photos of Jason’s Ford