Just the Facts
Owner: Doyle Thomas
Subtlety is among the hardest goals to achieve when building a car. Though most folks can easily identify when a car owner has gone too far with a design concept, it's usually harder to determine where the line of over-indulgence is drawn during a build.
Creating something that people haven't seen before is another challenge because, after 80 years of customizing hot rods, it's often difficult to find a new way to look at something.
Doyle Thomas is a car collector and has several great cars in his garage. Some folks will probably remember Doyle's Alloway-built 1955 Buick convertible that was a runner-up in the magazine's 2011 Street Rod of the Year program, or possibly his all-black Rambler from the Feb. 2012 issue of STREET RODDER.
Mike Rutter, the 44-year-old owner of Rutterz Rodz in Bristol, Tennessee, built the Rambler for Doyle and liked what Rutter did for him—so much so they talked about doing another project. This one involved the top-secret Ford design team that cooked up a hybrid: a performance-oriented Fairlane dressed in 500 KR clothing. The 500 KR (King of the Road) nameplate was used by Ford in 1968 on their Shelby Cobra GT Mustangs and signified a higher performance level (due, in part, to being equipped with a 428 Cobra Jet engine) than that of the standard Mustangs of the time.
Chrome Tech USA restored the gauge panel, and Classic Instruments created the custom gauge
But, of course, there was no "secret Ford design team" in 1964 (or at least none that we are aware of), but this car's design, penned by automotive illustrator Eric Brockmeyer, incorporated those 500 KR concepts, and it was up to Rutterz Rodz to convincingly pull it off.
Much of the work on this car is in the suspension and drivetrain, starting with the removal of the front suspension and shock towers in favor of a Mustang II–type independent system. In the rear a Moser 9-inch rear went in along with triangulated four-bar design and Aldan coilover shocks. A custom X-member was also fab'd, along with a new trans mount.
Wilwood disc brakes were fit to each corner, as were Schott F-10 wheels (18x7 in front, 20x10 in the rear), wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport 225/40-18 and 255/40-20 hides.
The brakes are controlled with a Kugel Komponents underdash master cylinder, and Rutterz modified Shelby GT500 brake pedals to work with the Kugel brake arm. Steering is handled by a tilting Flaming River unit, topped with an original Fairlane wheel.
The engine bay was a bit more complex, and not just for the fact Rutterz slipped an 2007 Shelby GT500 5.4L motor into the compartment. Part of the look Rutter wanted was to keep a certain amount of plastic hoses, tanks, and plumbing to make it look factory, but void of unnecessary items that would clutter up things. That balance is key for a clean appearance, and one that Rutter capably accomplished. Effort was also made to keep the original height of the hood, without resorting to bumps, blisters, or scoops.
The 500 KR design influenced what Rutter did with the shift knob, incorporating the six-sp
The Shelby GT500 six-speed transmission is controlled by a shifter arm Rutterz modified so it would come out of the console in the right spot, and the console itself does a good job hiding the larger-than-normal hump from the transmission.
The Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe featured a higher trim level (similar in some ways to Ford's Galaxie line) as well as a pillerless hardtop design, which was introduced the year before. For this coupe the rear wheelwells were widened to accommodate its big wheels, and Shelby-style bullet mirrors were added to the exterior. Most of the original trim was left intact (though expertly straightened and polished by Dan's Polishing).
A natural thought for color on this subtle car might be the Wimbledon White used on many Fords of the era, but Rutterz didn't like the underlying hues in that shade, so he picked a custom-mixed white from Dupont that had the correct look. The team at Rutterz (Greg Whitehead, Jonathan Tolley, and Rutter) straightened out the body, fit better gaps to the doors, trunk, and hood, and wired (using a kit from Painless Performance Products) the car before turning it over to Paul Atkins for its interior.
Complementing the white exterior, Atkins went with a competition blue leather that was laid out over original bucket seats (but with reshaped foam) and a custom rear bench. Blue wool carpet also went in, as did the original gauge insert, though this one was refurbished by Chrome Tech USA in Wisconsin. Classic Instruments provided the custom-face gauges (that include Doyle's name in a winged design), and a Vintage Air system went in for the A/C and heat. The stereo system from Benny Broyles in Blountville, Tennessee, uses a JVC head unit and Memphis audio amps and speakers.
When this car was photographed at the most recent Goodguys' PPG Nationals in Columbus (after receiving a STREET RODDER Top 100 award), it had only rolled up 168 miles on the odometer, but they've been some fun miles! Doyle and Rutter are already at work on the next project: a 1951 Ford sedan that Doyle's father bought new. It'll get an Art Morrison chassis and another of the Shelby GT500 powerplants—which should make for one great ride.
But even though performance exudes from every part of the Fairlane, it's been wrapped up with a plain bow. But the deeper you look, the more you find, and its simple but well-done approach is what helped it win STREET RODDER's Street Rod of the Year award.
A certain amount of 1964 Thunderbird can be seen in the sail panels of the Fairlane—a desi
Going with the idea this was to be a factory "what if?" car, the engine bay looks clean an
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"factory," much of the exterior trim was left intact, though the original do