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Revisiting Old Passions by Restoring a Classic: 1967 Fairlane Ranchero
Written By: Stephanie Laska
Photography By: Heidi Mehlberg and Paul Herman
A 1967 Ford Fairlane Ranchero lives in Clark, South Dakota, waiting for its chance to race. The classic car, rebuilt with the works, is already wowing crowds at car shows across the state. This one is a beauty to keep on the radar.
Paul Herman began drag racing in the early ‘80s, but quit in the ‘90s when “life got in the way.” The ’67 Ford caught Herman’s eye as he was looking through the Jamestown Gazette one day. Upon calling the owner, he learned the car had been left on the street by a drifter from California. The floorboards were rusted from some water damage, but the rest of the car was in good shape. Herman took a chance, and soon began the five-year restoration project.
The Ranchero was a base model car with what Herman describes as “a meager little 6-cylinder engine.” After the restoration and modification process, the FE-series 390 big-block Ford, bored and stroked to 445 cubic inches, puts out a ground-shaking 550 horsepower. The pro-street car features custom headers and chassis built by Jeremy Lee Race Cars of Mandan, ND.
It has an automatic transmission, and the modifications Herman added include power steering and an early 1980s Mustang rack and pinion suspension. The shock towers were taken out. The fuel pump had to be overhauled twice; originally, Herman was using fuel from the pump, but now, Herman runs 110 octane race fuel from a fuel cell in the back of the bed.
The body of the ’67 has all original panels, but the fiberglass hood is aftermarket. The body work was completed by Eric Caulfield at The Body Shop in Bradley, SD. The car had to be stripped down to be painted “Gulfstream Aqua” – an original color of the ’68 Fords. The chrome trim against the bold paint color gives striking definition to Herman’s model and accentuates the sleek lines of the car. Even the Fairlane crest is shiny and new – this small but important detail of the car comes from an unopened box first packaged 50 years ago.
The car was originally lower, but it bottomed out too often, so it received a lift. Herman added 31-1650-15 racing tires and 2012 Cobra Mustang black leather racing seats. This car originally included the radio delete plate, an addition that very few models had when first produced, and Herman kept this consistent in his restoration with a newly installed dash.
Herman’s initial interest in the ’67 stems from the car’s uniqueness, a rare edition of the Ranchero with smooth lines and trim. He shares, “I remember seeing one of these parked at my sister's neighbor's house years ago, and I just had to have it. I drove the wheels off that car and eventually, it ended up sitting in a pasture. Since then I've owned quite a few Rancheros, and yes, it has become a passion of mine with these old gems.”
Herman’s garage set-up is every car enthusiast’s dream, with shelves upon shelves of car parts that have been collected over the years. Original ’67 Fairlane parts sit neatly on the shelves, ready for future projects. The garage is complete with a lift for easy access to projects, a big screen TV and several awards touting the car’s accomplishments.
The Ranchero took home 3rd in class for ‘Pro-street ’73 and earlier’ at Kool Deadwood Nites, 2nd place from Hedahls Auto Plus Car Show in Redfield, SD, and 1st place both times it visited Clark Potato Days. Herman also brought the car to Winterfest of Wheels last month, and on an unofficial July 4th cruise around Lake Kampeska.
Herman plans to enter the car in drag races one day and take it to a few more car shows along the way. As his ’67 Fairlane Ranchero waits for its chance to rev up its engine, the car can be seen driving through the streets of Clark, SD.