Knockout in Three Rounds: Dick Bahnick's 1966 Ford Fairlane

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The decision is in: Dick Bahnick’s 1966 Fairlane is a real knockout! But the ferocious Ford wasn’t always the car-show champ you see here.

It took Dick three rounds of knuckle-busting restoration to transform a down-and-out coupe into a heavyweight contender, ready to take on all challengers.

A life-long hot rod hound and veteran of several successful builds, Dick’s automotive education began with his first car at age 16. “It was a ’39 Olds coupe with bad shocks. Man, that thing would bounce 10 miles up and then 10 miles down,” says Dick with a chuckle.

Each successive project brought a unique set of challenges and also gave Dick the opportunity to hone a growing arsenal of car customizing skills—skills he’d eventually test on a 1962 Ford pickup. “I chopped and channeled the body. It came out nice, but getting that windshield to fit was an awful lot of hard work,” explains Dick.

In 1986, Dick had a ton of experience under his belt and was looking for a new challenge. “I found the Fairlane in Florida. It had a 6-cylinder and an automatic,” he says. Hardly what you’d call a looker, the plain-Jane coupe came complete with a cracked windshield, battered exterior, and factory interior that had been customized with at least one rattle can of green paint.

Dick towed the Ford back to his Ohio home and began the first round of restoration. “That 6-cylinder had to go. I didn’t even start it to see if it ran,” says Dick with a smile. He benched the welterweight drivetrain to make room for a beefy 400 V8 coupled to a stock C-6 transmission, and then turned his attention to the car’s bodywork.

Not one to pull his punches, Dick picked up a body hammer and pummeled 20 years of the street-inflicted lumps and bumps from the bruised exterior. With the bodywork and powertrain in tip-top shape, Dick sent the Fairlane out for fresh paint and a new vinyl interior.

Dick drove the rejuvenated two-door until the bell sounded for round two in 1994. “The car was still in pretty good shape but it needed to be freshened up. I basically took it apart and put it back together,” says Dick with a smile. “I also threw in new suspension and steering bushings and new shocks to tighten up the ride.”

Then in 2008, Dick decided it was time for the main event—an all out bumper-to-bumper rebuild. “I stripped the car down to the sheetmetal,” explains Dick. “I wanted more horsepower and I wanted to keep it street. That means it’s got to be reliable.”

Starting from the ground up, Dick replaced the factory front suspension with a road-hugging Rod & Custom Motorsports coil-over system and Mustang II rack-and-pinion. In the back, Monroe air shocks control the coupe’s altitude and rake, while four Wilwood disc brakes deliver a big boost in stopping power—an absolute must considering the boost in go power Dick had in store.

Dick’s power-improvement plan called for a massive 514 stroker engine, but the big block Ford was far from a perfect fit. “I cut out the shock towers when I installed the independent front suspension and that gave me some more room for the 514,” he says. “I also had to notch the driver side valve cover to clear the brake booster.”

Taking up every available inch under the Ford’s custom fiberglass hood (and a few inches above it), the stroker is loaded with go-fast goodies and sits dressed to impress with gobs of polished-aluminum accessories (get the details in the Fast Specs below). For bulletproof reliability, Dick installed a rugged B&M C-6 transmission to handle all of the power generated by the 94 octane-fueled engine.

Outside, Dick’s impeccable bodywork is an absolute joy to behold. Every inch of the perfectly executed exterior is straight as an arrow. “I took a lot of time getting those gaps just right. It’s those little things that make all the difference to me,” he says. The Fairlane wears a spectacular Ruby Red paint job applied by Chester Autobody and is accented with hot rod approved pinstriping provided by Guy Shively.

The car’s interior is an excellent blend of hot rod style and function. Dick installed a set of Monte Carlo power seats plus a full complement of power accessories, all connected to a Painless Performance wiring harness. “On a build like this, you’re always adding circuits for the windows, locks, and what have you. The Painless harness really makes life a lot easier,” explains Dick.

The pros at Portage Trim covered the Fairlane’s seats and interior surfaces with supple tan leather while deep red cut-pile carpet ties the color schemes together. A Vintage Air climate control system keeps Dick comfy while he adds over 4,000 miles to the Ford’s factory odometer every year.

Is there a round four to this story? “Maybe,” says Dick. “The only thing I like better than driving this car, is working on it. I think a set of low-profile fuel injection stacks would look pretty cool.” We should have known. Car show champions like Dick Bahnick’s 1966 Fairlane are not born, they’re built with hard work and passion, sometimes three (or more) rounds at a time.

Story by: James Millar
Art Direction by: Aaron Gray
Photography by: Todd Biss

FAST SPECS

Chassis


Frame: Stock reinforced
Rear End: Ford 9", Moser ring and pinion, Eaton Detroit Locker differential
Suspension: Rod & Custom Motorsports independent front suspension kit, factory rear leaf springs, Monroe air shocks
Steering: Flaming River Mustang II rack-and-pinion and steering column, Grant Elite GT steering wheel
Brakes: Wilwood 4-wheel disc brakes
Wheels and Tires: American Racing Torq-Thrust 16" x 7" front/16" x 8" rear aluminum wheels, Cooper Trendsetter SE tires, 225/60R16 front, 235/70R16 rear

Engine and Transmission

Engine: Ford 514 cu. in., 9.5:1 compression ratio, Scat rotating assembly, COMP® Cams hydraulic roller camshaft (.622"/624" lift, 242°/248° duration), Lunati Voodoo roller rocker arms, Ford Racing Super Cobra Jet cylinder heads, Ford Racing valve covers modified by owner
Induction: Holley 870 cfm carburetor, Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap intake manifold, Billet Specialties Air Cleaner
Ignition and Electrical: Mallory E-Fire distributor, MSD 6AL ignition control and Blaster coil, ACCEL ignition wires, Powermaster alternator and starter; Painless Performance wiring harness
Exhaust: Ford Powertrain Applications ceramic-coated headers, 1 3/4" primaries, 2 1/2" custom exhaust system, Flowmaster 70 Series mufflers
Other Items: Griffin aluminum radiator, Billet Specialties serpentine system, Vintage Air air conditioning, ARP fasteners
Transmission: B&M Street and Strip C-6 transmission and 2,400 rpm torque converter

Exterior

Body: 1966 Ford Fairlane, trim removed, fiberglass hood and scoop, bumpers filled; body work by owner
Paint: PPG Ruby Red body with dark highlights on hood scoop
Paint By: Chester Auto Body
Pinstriping and Graphics: Guy Shively

Interior

Upholstery: Tan leather upholstery, red cut-pile carpet  
Upholstery By: Portage Trim
Other items: Stewart Warner gauges

Awards

2012 Newton Falls Ohio Street Car Show: Best in Show
2012 Middlefield Ohio Summer Fest: Police Chief’s Award

Special thanks to: A great group of friends who were always ready to lend a hand

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