The R Code was a 7.0-liter racing engine that wasn’t supposed to be installed into dealership cars destined for the street.
Ford did exactly that and shoehorned this mighty V8 into a mid-size Fairlane, resulting in one of the most feared cars on the street.
As one would imagine, a car with as much firepower and light curb weight as the R-Code would offer some serious performance. Indeed, a July 1966 road test of a 1966 Fairlane XL500 427 in stock trim tripped the quarter-mile in just under 13 seconds at 114 mph.
Not only it was too powerful with almost 500 hp, but it was too loud and hard to maintain. The R-Code’s exhaust system had a single transverse muffler and dual exhaust outlets. The car’s cast-iron manifolds were unique and had a profound consequence on the production of the car.
Wearing 14″ painted steel wheels the car looked mostly stock.
there was a hood scoop, and yes it was completely functional.
The only ‘Tell’ on the outside, that this was a special car was the plastic hood with a big scoop, which was necessary to feed enough air to the massive engine.
The Ford Fairlane 500 R-Codes only came in one color combination: Wimbledon White with a black vinyl interior that was Spartan by anyone’s standards.
Inside a standard front, bench seat was the only option. A dash-mounted tach and radio-delete plate that featured a Ford emblem as the only evidence something was special about this car.
In true ‘sleeper’ fashion the R-Code looked just like any other 1966 Fairlane on the market. As you might expect, the car was blisteringly fast in a straight line and won many drag races.
However, due to the limited availability, of the special engines, it was rare on the streets, high price, handling, road bumps, etc were all not conducive to sales.
Only 57 were produced by Ford, falling short of predictions that they would build at least 70 cars.
All R-codes came with Ford’s Toploader four-speed manual with synchromesh ratios sending power to a Ford 9-inch “SPEC” housing open differential with a 3.89:1 ratio.
For suspension, the R-Code had front independent, unequal-length control arms, coil springs, lower trailing links, telescoping shock absorbers, and a 7/8-inch anti-roll bar.
In the rear was a rigid axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and telescoping shock absorbers.
Brakes consisted of a hydraulic, dual-circuit master cylinder, and a vacuum-power assist system with 11-inch discs and single-piston calipers in front and 10-inch drums in the rear.
Today, those surviving Fairlane R Codes are highly collectible and bring high price tags.
This car is a bonified piece of muscle car history.