Long wheelbase model lost favour
FAIRLANE and LTD are long-wheelbase versions of the Ford Falcon.
For many years they carried their own specific shape to make them stand out from their shorter brothers.
However, during the early years of the 21st century Ford Australia decided to save money by having the Fairlane and LTD share most body components with the Falcon.
The result was that buyers stayed away in droves and the big Aussie Fords tumbled from their position as kings of the market and were discontinued at the end of 2007.
The big Fords make excellent family cars, particularly if you've got some large teenagers. Note they are better suited to four occupants than five as the centre-rear seat's foot-space is compromised by the transmission tunnel.
As all the extra wheelbase has gone into the rear passenger area the boot space is about the same as that of the Falcon.
The boot is quite large, but on the shallow side.
Many cars, especially in the LTD range, began their lives as government or hire cars and have generally led an easy life in their early years, having been serviced strictly according to the book and carefully maintained by drivers who took pride in them.
Though they are very large cars, the Fords are reasonably easy to drive.
However, they can be out of place on inner city streets and in tight parking stations.
Ride comfort is excellent and the big Fords really come into their own when they are used on rough and ready Aussie country roads. Indeed, they can show the big name Europeans cars a thing or two when it comes to soaking up harsh surfaces with a minimum of fuss.
Sixes and V8s are offered in both models with the V8 being the more common in the LTD. The big V8 engine scores in its heavy towing ability, though the six isn't as far behind as you might expect.
Many drivers just love the lazy, easy-going travel only a V8 can provide and aren't particularly interested in the latest and greatest in technology.
However, the six-cylinder powerplant is often the better choice unless you are a revhead as it has been significantly upgraded over the years and doesn't lag far behind the V8.
Expect to use about 10 to 15% less petrol in the six than the V8.
Engine capacity on the six-cylinder is 4.0 litres, with the engine being revised many times over the years.
The powerplant from the AU series onwards is the one to go for if your budget can handle it.
The V8 had a capacity of 5.0 litres until the launch of the BA series in 2003, when an all-new design went up to 5.4 litres.
The newer engine is far superior to its predecessor, both in performance and economy.
A four-speed automatic transmission was used in Fairlanes and LTDs until the BF facelift of 2005 introduced a six-speed unit.
The latter is a far better design and combines good off-the-line acceleration with a lazy, mile-eating high-ratio sixth gear.
The big Fords are relatively easy for the knowledgeable amateur to work on, though some of the luxury extras will need a professional operator.
Spare parts are reasonable in price and there are dealers in virtually all areas of the continent.
Insurance costs are low, very low if you remember the high-class company this car keeps on the market.
We have seen some Fairlanes dressed up to look like LTDs, particularly in the older models. If you are in doubt get in touch with your Ford dealer and quote the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) for a confirmation.
What to look for
Check the body for signs of rust and/or previous crash damage.
Rust is not usual but can get into the lower corners of the doors and bootlid, the boot floor and the rear windscreen surround.
Engines should start within a couple of seconds even when cold and should have a smooth idle straight away. Watch for smoke from the exhaust, at its most obvious when the accelerator is floored quickly, and feel for any hesitation under acceleration.
Check the automatic transmission isn't hesitant about going into gear from park or neutral and doesn't make unnecessary changes.
Listen for a whine from the differential at moderate urban speeds and when cruising at about 100kmh to 120kmh.
Earlier Fairlanes and LTDs weren't as well-built as they should have been.
Check for parts that don't fit correctly, or rattle and squeak on bumpy roads.
Expect to pay from
- $5500 to $9000 for a 1999 Ford Fairlane AU,
- $8000 to $13,000 for a 2000 LTD AU,
- $12,000 to $18,000 for a 2005 Fairlane Ghia BA,
- $17,000 to $25,000 for a 2006 Fairlane Ghia BF,
- $22,000 to $31,000 for a 2007 Fairlane Ghia BF, and
- $24,000 to $34,000 for a 2007 LTD BF.