What is the result when you essentially hand a blank check to your shop of choice and ask them to build your dream car for you? If we had to guess, we probably couldn’t afford such a build, but that didn’t stop Lance Tavana from achieving his vision for his classic Ford. Take one look at this sleek, 1964 Ford Fairlane 500 and the first thing you’ll probably notice is that it looks damn-near stock – and it’s supposed to — according to Lance.
I told him to pretend the car was his own, and to do what he would do if it was his. — Lance Tavana
However, it’s the Coyote in sheep’s clothing underneath the hood that’s the star of this show. But that might lead you to believe that Lance’s vision of the coupe stopped there – and it didn’t. One word comes to mind from the underpinnings of Lance’s Fairlane — custom.
Every, single detail of his Snow Coyote Fairlane is completely custom. The chassis? Custom. The drivetrain? Custom. The suspension? Also, custom. When you don’t have the option to acquire an off-the-shelf component for the job, what do you do next? Well, you custom make it, of course.
To say that Lance’s Coyote-powered Fairlane is a no-expense-spared build would be a bit of an understatement. The craftsmanship and its attention to detail that cultivated the build might even lead you to believe that it blossomed without its humble beginnings, but we’re here to tell you otherwise.
A Peculiar Way
Lance isn’t a stranger to building hot rods, having previously built his own ERA Cobra replica with a supercharged, 427-cube V8. Surely he’s our type of car enthusiast — a musclecar fanatic with a love for all things Blue Oval, including his Fairlane.
For more than two years, Lance was on the hunt for an unequivocal version of the Fairlane. The criteria was that it had to be a white, 1964 model with a blue interior. One day while cruising eBay, he had surprisingly come across this exact car in the exact version that he desired back in 2011.
“Conneaut Collision Center in Conneaut, Ohio, did all the body work and paint. We wanted a stock look, so it’s a single-stage Wimbledon White just like it was out of the factory.” Lance Tavana said.
“As I was reading through the description, there was an email address attached at the end. I recognized the address — it was Robert Pond from Robert Pond Motorsports, from whom I bought my aluminum 427ci block for my Cobra replica. I called him up to discuss the car,” Lance explained. “Shortly after, I asked him switch the auction to the ‘Buy It Now’ option. Two weeks later, it was sitting in my garage. This Fairlane was originally a Des Moines, Iowa, car that had spent a fair amount of years in the Seattle area. It was then brought to Robert at his shop location in California before coming to me nearly a year later in 2012.”
Let The Good Times Roll
Lance and his brother continued major work on the car in 2012, revamping the interior with new floor pans, new carpet, an upgraded stereo and a complete sealant. Around this time frame, he says the car was “basically stock after that with a 289ci V8.” Minor modifications were performed on the old mill, which included a pair of Ford Motorsport SVO cylinder heads and a Holley carburetor.
A rebuilt transmission helped things move along as well. “It was really a great car to tinker around with,” Lance divulged. “I drove the car for about a year until a persistent transmission leak forced me to drop the transmission to have it rebuilt a second time.”
Unfortunately, Lance said the transmission continued to leak for the next three years. This prompted him to consider a new one.
“From there, the avalanche started,” he said. “Getting a new transmission made for the possibility of a new engine. Then I switched from auto to stick, added a new front suspension to fit a Coyote, and upgraded the rearend for the increased power… You get the idea! So I ended up replacing the entire drivetrain, suspension, and brakes — and then things got serious.”
Playtime Is Over
Not the 302 you’re used to seeing under the hood of a classic Fairlane.
With all of his cards laid out on the table, Lance tossed “average” out of the Fairlane’s list of descriptions with the intent to build a relatively stock-looking daily driver that could perform at the drag strip, on the autocross, and on a road course.
Lance says that Chuck Dworek of CHE Performance out of Girard, Pennsylvania, performed nearly 100 percent of the build.
“Why? Because he knows his shit,” Lance laughed.
Lance explained that Chuck shared the same vision for the Fairlane from the beginning, stating that they continued to bounce ideas off of each other as the build progressed. “I told him to pretend the car was his own, and to do what he would do if it was his,” Lance shared.
The front suspension consists of custom tubular A-arms allow the steering rack to be lowered. The QA1 Proma-Star adjustable coilovers are mounted to custom, welded gusseted plates that replace the factory locations. "This design ensures that the weight of the front suspension is distributed in the same way as it was designed at the factory with the load being transferred to the cowl through the custom tubular shock tower brace instead of the load being entirely placed upon the thin stamped steel framerails as is common in other kits," Lance told us. "The tubular torque arm is complemented with double adjustable lower control arms. The lateral stability is handled with a custom Watt's Link setup, and a custom rear swaybar is tucked inside the rear framerails.
The goal from the beginning was to be Coyote-powered and equipped with a manual transmission. A mini tub and a new rearend followed shortly thereafter, as Lance and Chuck wanted to utilize a torque-arm-style rear suspension because of its versatility.
“We like the understated look to the car that doesn’t scream modified, yet if you know what you are looking at you can figure out that it’s got something going on,” Lance enthused.
CHE fabricated a completely custom front and rear suspension for Lance’s application. A custom K-member allows the wide, 5.0-liter V8 to sit lower in the engine bay, which allowed for the use of a Wilwood brake master cylinder without needing to modify anything for space.
“The clutch conversion kit is from Modern Driveline, as they provide a full Fairlane conversion that uses stock pedals to link up to a hydraulic clutch,” Lance explained. “It’s linked up to a TKO600, which has been modified to rev to 7,000 rpm.”
A Denny’s 4-inch aluminum one-piece driveshaft bridges the gap between the transmission and the Moser Engineering M9 fabricated 9-inch rearend, which uses a Detroit TrueTrac differential, 3.89 gears and beefy 35-spline axles.
• Rocket Racing Fuel 15×8-inch rear w/ MT Street S/S Drag Radial, 295/55R15
• Custom ceramic coated long tube headers
• Custom CHE stainless 2.5-inch exhaust
• Custom CHE X-pipe
• Borla Pro-XS mufflers
Remember how we mentioned earlier that everything was custom? We meant it. The fuel tank is a custom aluminum piece from CHE that allows for an in-tank electric pump which is paired with a Aeromotive fuel regulator. The exhaust? You guessed it,custom, thanks to a pair of Borla ProXS mufflers that are dumped in front of the rear tires.
“I wanted to pay homage to the Thunderbolt Fairlanes with the dual headlight air intakes,” Lance described. “Chuck was able to create one that fits within the space, yet turns into the fairly forward intake on the Coyote.”
Lance was able to use the stock air conditioning compressor on the Coyote and link it up to a Vintage Air Magnum unit. However, he wasn’t a fan of the off-the-shelf A/C vents, as he believe they didn’t really jibe with the stock look, so Lance found a vintage Ford air conditioning vent unit and Chuck built a manifold to mate it with the Vintage Air unit.
“The controls for the unit were placed in a heater delete plate that we metalized,” he said. “We then replaced the Vintage Air control knobs with replica radio knobs so that it looks fairly stock.”
With all of the upgrades intact, Lance says the Fairlane drives just like a brand new car. “It’s a beast with a ton of control, tight steering, and a suspension that feels stable no matter what you throw at it,” Lance assured. “It’s currently running low 12s in the quarter mile; but we are tuning it, changing our shift points and will possibly change out the rear tires. We’re hoping to get high 11s.”
Lance says that PowerHouse Automotive in Girard, Pennsylvania, did the custom tune on its Mustang Dyno. The results netted an additional 35 horsepower over the stock tune, reaping 452 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels.
“The drivability was the biggest benefit of the tune as the car is much more manageable at lower RPM,” he concluded.
Lance is currently entertaining the idea of throwing a blower on the Snow Coyote. We like the sound of that.