1 Mar 1999
By CHRIS HARRIS
The first Fairlane to concede market leadership to the Holden Statesman, the American lines and liberally applied chrome of the AU Fairlane just didn’t gel well with buyers, despite sharing only the divisive AU Falcon wagon’s doors Fairmont bonnet.
The interior, heavily revised drivetrain, recalibrated coil spring suspension, independent rear suspension (IRS), extra standard features, greater refinement and much improved dynamics were borrowed from the AU Fairmont Ghia.
The 168kW 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine utilising more-efficient “breathing” (called VCT) was a complete overhaul of the old unit, and considerably quieter and more economical for it.
Other improvements included steering wheel audio controls, traction control and an immobiliser.
The 175kW 5.0 was the V8 engine option in the Fairlane Ghia, while the LTD offered a 185kW version, along with the 168kW 4.0.
Buyers dropped off in droves so Ford wheeled out the value-added Millennium edition in January 2000. But to no real avail.
5129 AU 1 Fairlanes and 438 AU 1 LTDs were built.