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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I have been into old cars for years, I am finally in a place where I can work on something. In my family is a 1961 Ford Fairlane that has been sitting in a barn for probably 20+ years.

This car was driven by my Grandmother for 10 years and then parked. It was last to be known running and driving a little over 30 years ago. So there it sits in an old barn. It is a pretty basic car. 2 door, 6 cylinder, 3 on the tree, doesn't look like to many options. I have been thinking of working on it for years. The price would be right, free, but I know it needs a ton of work and don't know if it's worth it. I checked it out again yesterday. You can see some pictures at:
http://s18.photobucket.com/albums/b124/dakota1994/fairlane/

The good part is everything is there. The bad part is that it was driven in Michigan for 10 years. So there is some rust. The body itself doesn't look to terrible. Rust around the corners and bumpers, but I don't see any major holes. The underbody looks rusty as you can see in the pictures. This could be a lot of surface rust, but I still had my work clothes on, so I couldn't climb around to much. I am going to go back in a few weeks and check out the underbody some more. I looked under the drivers side rubber mat and the floor pan there seemed pretty solid.

If anyone can take a look at the pictures and give me any advice on this I would appreciate it. I could have it towed to my house and clean it up to see what it really looks like. I don't know if it's worth doing something with or not.

My plans would be to see if I can get the old 6 running and driving. I'm sure all the brakes will need rebuilding, could be wiring issues, and who knows what else. I would probably pull the 6 at some point and throw a 302 with auto trans. Just something to cruise in. I'll obviously have some body work to do here and there. This could be a good learning experience or it could be way to much for me.

All opinions are appreciated.
Thanks
 

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The Good: Like you said it's all there. Looks like all the trim is there, which is important. Finding trim for a 61 Fairlane would not be a walk in the park, so even if all the pieces needed rechroming to look nice, you wouldn't have to spend ages to find them. For being 45 years old and in a barn for so long what little I can see of the undercarriage doesn't look pleasant but doesn't look that bad. It is also a unique car, so many people focus on the 62-70 fairlanes and also the mid to late 50s convertible Fairlanes that the 61 and kin don't get noticed all that much. It would be a neat car to see at a car show or cruising, and you would be guaranteed to have the only one of its kind.

The Bad: For having not run for so long it is a given that the engine is going to be frozen and unable to turn over. The engine is going to have to be pulled and rebuilt before you could even dream of turning the key and having it fire up. It should also go without saying that the same will hold true for the Transmission and likely the Rear End, fluids congeal and become less "fluid-like" when sitting for so long. You already acknowledged the need for complete brake R&R and also keep that in mind for most if not all of the suspension components. 45+ year old wiring in a car like that will need to be replaced, period. The weatherstripping is also long gone, a concern if you were to drive the car in anything less than perfect weather or at highway speeds.

The Honest truth: This will be expensive, sure you can do some of the work but depending on your experience a lot of it will need to be done by a body shop or engine shop, transmission rebuilder, etc. That body should be stripped to bare metal, repaired where necessary, and the undercarriage could REALLY use a good media blasting before repainting. Don't forget to have the undercarriage recoated in a rust preventative. Expect $10k in body work. Even with just plain stock rebuild, expect another $10k in the engine, trans, rear end, plus parts for the suspension and brakes (even if you do some of the work yourself). The good news is, since it obviously isn't going to be your daily driver, there is no real time restraint on how quickly you get these things done, so while $20k is $20k, it doesn't look so bad over 2-3 years.

Good luck!
 

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Like jtfairlane said you don't see these everyday and it will be cool at the Cruise-in's and Car Shows. He left out the 'Lucky' parts, …except the “Good Luck”.

‘Being Real Lucky’: Marvel Mystery Oil "might" get it to turn over. I had an engine sit for 16 years and drove it another year or two until I started killing all the mosquitoes in town without a permit (valve seals shot). Start by pulling the plugs and filler up, let it sit a day or so then try turning the motor by hand. Don't make it turn if it doesn't want to turn or you could break the rings. Let the oil do its job. I couldn't say about the auto trans, never messed with one. But I think you ain't gonna be lucky here. Too many seals and passages.

‘Being Lucky’: Only have to replace the Master & Wheel Cylinders. Brake & Fuel Line. The gas tank will need to be sealed if not replaced. Wiring might be good if the field mouse hasn’t been munching on them. My wires are still good and its one year older than yours

‘No Luck at All’: I'm not going there

Junkyards and eBay if you need rare parts, vendors and NAPA for the common parts

It’s possible to pull this off around 5-10k, if you’re ‘Lucky’ by doing most of the work yourself and finding good deals on parts.
 

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Zig, you have a JEWEL there, a real diamond in the rough.

Not sure how old you are, but I would love to have a project just like yours for my 14 year old son.

First, the car is rare and desireable and very neat! Keep it, no matter what.

Second, restored or mildly rodded it will be a head turner, and relatively cheap to redo as restorations go.

Third, I agree with the others that major components will need serious attention, but it's also an opportunity to get everything just right. Your engine will likely need rebuilding (very cheap to do that straight six) your manual trans will likely be in ok condition, possibly some work, the brakes and wiring, interior and whatnot will need freshening up.

If you are new to the restoration hobby, this is a perfect project for you to learn on. I think you're going to have a ball doing it and will have a wonderful result when done right!

Keep us posted!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone for the replies. A little about me, I am almost 29 and have always been a car guy. I've been reading car craft and hot rod since I was 10... I am more into mopars to be honest. I have a 95 dakota that I have built up a bit. I've done engine work and major suspension modifications. So I have experience in working on cars.

I know I could do a lot of the work myself. The thing that scares me is the body work. I do have a large air compressor with air tools. I also plan on buying a mig welder this summer. So I am trying to build a good assortment of tools. I could try out some bodywork myself. It could be a good learning experience.

I have a little fishing boat also in that barn that I plan on bringing home in a few weeks. At that time I am going to check out the underbody some more. I am worried about holes in the floor pan and a rusted out frame.

What spurred all of this was talking to a guy at work. He has a 64 Comet that he is working on right now. His car is a base car also. 6 cylinder, manual trans. He is tearing it apart, putting disc brakes on and wants to install a 302. Does anyone know how compatible a 61 Fairlane and 64 Comet are?? He already said he would bring in brake parts for me and maybe even the engine. So I may have access to a bunch of parts. That would help for sure....

So I guess I will research some more on this car. It does seem to be a very unique car. There are not to many out there. It seems like it is almost forgotten after searching a little bit. The car would definetly stand out at a car show. I will take some more pictures in a few weeks and let everyone know how the rest of it looks...
 
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